The Axiom Home to Houston's underground and indie music scene in the late '80s and early '90s, the Axiom occasionally featured a touring act, the most famous of whom was a very young Nirvana in 1989. The no a/c or heat only added to the sweaty or shivering ambiance. JEFF BALKE
Blue Iguana Where coke dealers met Rice students who met off-duty strippers. Early porn shots of Madonna with motorcycle gangs passed for bathroom-wall décor. With its gnarled, twisted dead oak tree behind the bar extending to the ceiling and a jukebox that defied categorization, there hasn't been a bar like it, before or since. Horseshoe, Sundowners, Southern Backtones, and Jay Hooks used to burn this joint up. But most importantly, no Blue Iguana, no Little Joe Washington. They bought him a guitar, kept it at the bar, and made sure the little guy made some money each week when he was at a low point. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
The Bon Ton Room What eventually morphed into Mary Jane's and ultimately Walter's before surrendering to the Pearl Bar was once a damn fine rock club that featured, what seemed like every month, the Arc Angels blowing the doors off the place. JEFF BALKE
Cabaret Voltaire Some of the greatest punk and hardcore bands of all time played this bombed-out house on the east side of downtown. It was dirty, dank and filled with kids, exactly as every punk venue should be. JEFF BALKE
Cardi's There may be no greater example of how Houston kills its live music venue than the fact that Cardi's, a bar that saw U2, Metallica, Ratt, Bon Jovi and countless other rock bands grace its stage, is now Spotlight Karaoke. There was even a documentary made about its heyday in the '80s. Even driving past that strip mall on Westheimer and Fountain View is depressing. JEFF BALKE
Catacombs Operated by Ames Productions and possessing no liquor license, Catacombs, at 3003 S. Post Oak, was essentially an underage hangout that existed solely on ticket prices. Jeff Beck Group, Mothers of Invention, Grateful Dead, and Jethro Tull played their first Houston gigs there. The venue eventually moved to the corner of University and Kirby in Rice Village, but closed shortly after moving to be reopened as Of Our Own.
The guys in ZZ Top were regulars, particularly when Lightnin' Hopkins took the stage at this uber-eclectic club. The flowering of the Catacombs paralleled the flowering of middle-class teen drug culture in Houston. It also continued what was becoming a Houston tradition of mixing genres on the same bill. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH