Austin is know as the “Live Music Capital of the World.” There is always a band playing somewhere. I regularly go to a grocery store on Friday nights to hear a band play, and I’ve even seen shows at a carwash. A lot of them are free – great for rockers on a budget.
Most of the bars and music venues are downtown, around Red River and 6th Street, or in the Warehouse District. 6th Street is a legendary partying district for college students (think jello shots and tattoo parlors), and they close down the streets on Saturday nights for the revelry.
Red River Street has tons of music venues, and the Warehouse District has bars and clubs for people who are past the college scene (and feel old when they walk down 6th Street). Head over to West 6th Street after work for some great drink specials.
An area that has popped up in the last couple years is Rainey Street, which is an old downtown residential street turned nightspot. Most of the older homes have been turned into bars, and they usually each have a food trailer next to them. This area has a nice mix of clientele.
For the hipsters out there, stay on the eastside, around E. 6th St. There are a lot of great places with large outdoor patios and food trailers and you’ll practically swear you’re still in Brooklyn or San Francisco.
Most of the above places are serviced by pedicabs, so you can bar hop from one area to another with friends relatively easily.
And don’t forget the Broken Spoke! This classic bar and dancehall is a must-visit. They offer two-step lessons on many nights, and I highly recommend taking them before the band starts so you can participate.
No discussion would be complete without mentioning our two large music festivals: South by Southwest (in March) and Austin City Limits (in October). More about them in the festivals section.
What about kid-friendly music & nightlife events?
Parents know that “nightlife” post-baby usually means Netflix and a beer on a Friday night, and in bed by 10:30 pm. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
As I mentioned before, my family and I go to a grocery store on Friday nights. Not just any grocery store, but Central Market – the ultimate yuppie grocery shopping experience (Lamar at 38th St). On Fridays they have live music and dancing at their oak tree-shaded patio. Grab a meal at their cafe or deli, maybe a glass of wine or import beer, and keep one eye on the kids playing at the on-site playground. In the early summer when the lightning bugs are doing their thing and it’s not too scorching hot, it’s almost magical.
Other coffeeshops have kid-friendly shows during the weekends. There are more and more music venues catering to the parent crowd. Be sure to stay up on things by checking out our weekly mag, The Austin Chronicle.
Creative Commons: Pedicab image by ercwttmn. Broken Spoke image by me!