Year after year after year, Houston nurtures and cultivates its music scene. It has grown into substantial force, arguably as powerful and diverse as it's ever been, with legitimate talent in just about every branch or genre.
Accordingly, the city is flush with venues to see said talent, be it well manicured subsidiaries of corporate venues or locally owned iconic landmarks. Plenty of proper enjoyable places were left off the list due to the sheer number of quality venues the city now has. (That's one of those good problems to have, I'd guess.)
These are the best eight places to see local musicians in Houston.
8. Bronze Peacock Room (House of Blues): The House of Blues is a relative newbie, sure. And the House of Blues isn't exactly a homey venue, sure. But it's Bronze Peacock Room, a smaller offshoot of the main section of the venue, has played to countless local shows during its four-years-young life cycle. It is small and intimate and well put together, arguably the most traditionally attractive of any of the other places that landed on the list.
1204 Caroline, 888-402-5837, Web site
7. Dean's Credit Clothing (Dean's on Main): Considering that this spot is actually two separate locations (notsuoH's is located right next door; they're both part of the same compound), this one has a bit advantage. What's more important, though, is that this hangout, cool and trendy as cool and trendy have ever been, is pushed into importance by its eccentric owner, Jim Pirtle.
Few nightlife characters match Pirtle's quirkiness (he famously once draped his entire house in fabric), but fewer still match his enthusiasm for showcasing local musicians. Rock, rap and everything in between are all welcome.
316 Main, no phone, Facebook page
6. Warehouse Live: Multiple winner of the HPMA for Best Music Venue, Warehouse Live has grown into an unquestionably important part of Houston's music scene. And with the addition of its two smaller rooms, which offer smaller but still substantial capacities, which are ideal for local talent, it has rooted itself even further in. WL has played host to everything from murderously enjoyable producer battles such as the Space City Beat Battle to indie rock sets from Bang Bangz and Handsome Ransom to raptastic rap showcases from underground noisemakers Doughbeezy, Dante Higgins, KAB and more.
813 St. Emanuel, 713-225-5483, Web site
5. The Mink: I think the most accurate way anyone has ever described The Mink was "post-hip"; it's always just been a bit ahead of the curve as far as those sorts of things are concerned. And with its peculiar structure -- it's basically three separate sections: A bar at the front, an alley at the middle (which might be just about the most cigarette-friendly location in the city) and a two-story room at the back for music. There are no bounds to go out of at The Mink. Everyone from wunderkind DJs like Squincy Jones to post-apocalyptic superheroes like B L A C K I E have played there.
3718 Main, 713-522-9985, Web site
4. Walter's: Formerly Walter's on Washington, their new location, a once-upon-a-time mechanic's shop located behind DiverseWorks and just a few paces from University of Houston's Downtown campus, carries as much weight as the original.
Sound quality is splendid, band lineups (mostly variations of rock) are always solid, and its owner, Pam Robinson, is one of the all-time personalities in the independent music scene. There are no frills and there is no pomp. The focus is always on the music, same as it ever was, same as it ever will be. Definitely considered an iconic music venue in the city.
1120 Naylor, Facebook page
3. Continental Club: With regards to seeing local music, few places are as sturdy as Continental Club (only one, actually). It is built out from an historic building whose history dates back to the '30s, features no less than three separate sections to see music, and has grown several local bands and musicians into prominence.
Kanye rapped that he had his swagger on a hundred thousand million. Whatever the good will equivalent is to that, Continental Club has it. A cherished nightlife spot that should only ever rate near the top of any Which Are The Best Live Music Venues In Town list that wishes to be taken seriously.
3700 Main, 713-522-9899, Web site
2. Fitzgerald's: The granddaddy. Fitzgerald's has been a part of Houston's music scene seemingly since forever (35 years, to be specific). Owned by the affable Omar Afra, alt-paper Free Press Houston's main honcho, it's bound by neither genre nor preference. They're just as likely to book a rock act as they are a rap one, a Grammy winner as they are an HPMA winner.
Fitz is also just as likely to take up the fight against the city's dictatorial sound ordinance, which earns them no small amount of respect among the music community. The best place in the city to go to see local musicians is Fitzgerald's. Everyone else is playing for second. Except one.
2706 White Oak, 713-862-3838, Web site
1. Super Happy Fun Land: Super Happy Fun Land is home to truly strange and innovative music-makers -- noise, punk and freak-folkers. Located inside an old warehouse off Polk near the train tracks, Super Happy has art installations, graffiti murals, a newly installed back patio and a larger-than-average stage where traveling bands and locals do their thing.
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There is a community at Super Happy made up of artists who patronize each other's creations, and they're doing some of the most unique and irreverent work in the city. At last fall's Monotonix gig, the band played inside the venue's restroom, next to the tracks, on a Dumpster outside and finally onstage proper. Happily, that kind of chaos is welcomed at Super Happy. Try doing that at Jones Hall. (Best of Houston winner, 2010)
3801 Polk, 713-880-2100, Web site