Top 10 Austin Venues to Watch in 2014
1. C-Boy’s Heart and Soul
Pro tip: I hear the ladies’ room is wall-to-wall glitter, which always helps make an evening a little more magical. If you must take selfies in 2014, take them here.
2. The Roost
Pro tip: The Roost has an insanely great vintage vinyl and poster collection. Bring the crankiest old-school Austin music fan you know and win them over.
This snazzy club, launched in 2013 by two Marine vets just back from Afghanistan, has found a perfect spot downtown, nestled between established restaurants, and just a stone’s throw from the Four Seasons and the lake. Take a break from your favorite dive, and treat yourself to jazz, blues, and standards in this swanky jewel box of a club. As the club expands in mid-2014 into the old El Ceviche space, picking up a full kitchen and significantly more seating, we expect its reputation to grow as its already excellent programming continues to mature.
Pro tip: Don’t let the swankiness fool you. Jeans, boots, flannel, yoga pants – it’s all good. If you love good music and good drinks, you’ll fit right in.
4.The Long Center for the Performing Arts:
This state-of-the-art nonprofit facility on the shore of Town Lake is really three venues in one – first, the acoustically splendid Dell Hall, home to the more than 100 year old Austin Symphony Orchestra (the only band in Austin older than Asleep at the Wheel), as well as the Austin Lyric Opera, Austin Ballet, Conspirare, and other local musical treasures. Downstairs, the intimate Rollins Studio Theatre hosts the Long Center’s exclusive Concert Club series, where hardcore fans of local artists like Graham Reynolds, Redd Volkaert, Guy Forsyth, Carolyn Wonderland, Grupo Fantasma, the Whiskey Sisters, and Dale Watson can enjoy seeing their favorite performers up close with perfect sound, impeccable sightlines, short lines at the bar, close-in covered parking, and spotless restrooms. The third performance space is the spectacular City Terrace, where free outdoor concerts ranging from classical to Western swing give patrons the opportunity to hear great local artists in front of the most beautiful backdrop in the city – our skyline. No matter your budget, you can enjoy exceptional performances by local artists at Austin’s Creative Home, and 2014 will be no exception.
Pro tip: Order your drink at the bar before the show and it will be waiting for you at intermission. Spend your break admiring the amazing views, instead of waiting in line.
5. Hotel Vegas:
The East Side haunt has found its niche, serving a critical role in the Austin music ecosystem as a “farm team” for more established clubs. Up and coming bands lucky enough to book gigs here benefit from mentoring, coaching, and hard-won advice from head honcho Jason McNeely, thanks to his deep personal commitment to local artists and their careers. If you want to know the next new sound, band, or vibe to come out of the local rock scene before it gets picked up by the media or bigger clubs, Hotel Vegas and their partner venue, the Volstead, are definitely worth a visit.
Pro tip: Custom earplugs are worth the investment. You can still hear the music, and live to rock another day.
6.The White Horse:
The great thing about this club is that it’s more than just a honky-tonk – it’s a dance hall, a community center, and even part of the Lit Crawl for the Texas Book Festival. Check out the Sunday afternoon dance party with Conjunto Los Pinkys, an band that will have you out of breath before the 70-year-old musicians break a sweat. Take some Cajun dance lessons on Fridays and get your fais do-do on. And don’t forget the East Side Flea Market held here (weather permitting), with exclusively handmade items from local artists, because “nobody wants to buy their mama your old toaster.” Missed the massive Christmas tree decorated in beer cans? Catch it in 2014.
Pro tip: Don’t ask for a drink menu. Just order a Two-Step.
7. Red River Cultural District:
From the Mohawk to Beerland to Elysium, this short industrial stretch along Waller Creek has delivered solid live music from locals and touring bands alike for years. On any given night you can see fans of metal, indie, prog country, and EDM, and even the occasional juggalo, strolling happily from club to club to food trailer. Add in some new food options – like the Pelon’s Tex-Mex + 508 Tequila Bar + Zorro compound – and the night starts shaping up nicely. The new RRCD reaches over to East 7th to pick up Holy Mountain, Red 7, Empire Control Room & Garage, and Sidebar, and the latest news is that East Side fave Cheer Up Charlie’s is stepping in to take over the former Club deVille space. Now, if only a great club could sign a long-term lease for the old Emo’s space…
Pro tip: Look for the meters with the five-hour max instead of three – that way, you won’t have to leave mid-set to feed your meter.
8. Austin streets and sidewalks:
I will show up just about any time, anywhere, if there’s even a rumor of a second line brass band playing, and I’m a huge fan of Austin’s homegrown “renegade circus brass band,” Minor Mishap Marching Band. I expect that 2014 will bring some great new opportunities for Austin buskers and fans of busking, and that visitors and Austinites alike will soon be able to enjoy a great deal more of the amazing talent that makes Austin the Live Music Capital of the World.
Pro tip: Attend an upcoming Music Commission meeting to learn more, or share your thoughts on busking. The public is always welcome.
9. and 10. Honorable mentions go to Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon and the Poodle Dog Lounge
Saved from becoming footnotes in Austin history books by Dale Watson and Randall Stockton, respectively. If you haven’t been to either place yet, check them out, pronto. Chicken sh*t bingo waits for no man.
Pro tip: If you are the kind of person who gets deeply upset when old venues close and post about it on Facebook for days and haven’t been to either place yet, either…then get in your dang car, buy a Lone Star, tip your server, tip the band, and have some fun. And do your part to help keep these places alive and kicking.