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Culture / Entertainment

Houston’s Ultimate Nightlife Guide

The 11 Best Spots for Live Music in the Bayou City

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Houston’s after-hours scene is as diverse as its population. Here are our favorite places to hear great live music, soak up local color, and, of course, have a drink or two. From the eccentric (Notsuoh) to the fancy (White Oak Music Hall) and the iconic (Numbers), all facets of Houston after hours are accounted for.

Axelrad Beer Garden, 1517 W. Alabama. Sandwiched between the hip enclave of Montrose and the ongoing revitalization of Third Ward lies the historic building that’s home to Axlerad, the beer garden that now doubles as a spot for live music. Dog-friendly and offering tons of outdoor seating, the spirited venue unites beer-loving hipsters and yuppie types looking to lay low.

Barbarella, 2404 San Jacinto St. This Austin import is like the younger cousin of famed Houston club Numbers, with a youth-influenced lineup of themed evenings such as ’90s night, emo night, indie night.

Cezanne, 4100 Montrose. There are jazz clubs, and then there’s Cezanne, an exquisite space nestled in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it strip shrouded in trees in the middle of Montrose. Situated next to English pub The Black Labrador, Cezanne boasts a cozy live-jazz experience worthy of New York City.

The Flat, 1701 Commonwealth. An eclectic, low-key space, the cool confines of The Flat are host to some of the city’s most exciting hip-hop, electronic, and vinyl nights, a place that doesn’t try too hard to be cool because it just naturally is. Partially owned by the local, influential artist DJ Sun, The Flat is a chic respite in the hipster- and dive-bar-laden Montrose neighborhood (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Nightingale Room, 308 Main St. Amidst a bustling strip on Main with newish dive bars and chic lounges is Nightingale Room, a downtown venue with a Montrose speakeasy feel and a unique setup: bar downstairs, bands and artists upstairs. Audiences sip cocktails while looking up at performers.

Notsuoh, 314 Main St., notsuoh.com. The definition of dive, Notsuoh (yes, that’s Houston backwards) held ground on Main Street long before it became tourist- and foot-traffic friendly. Notsuoh hosts open mics, performance artists, and musicians of all stripes, from the deeply obscure to the more known. With a David Lynch movie feel, Notsuoh is one of the most genuine Houston spaces left standing.

Numbers, 300 Westheimer. Before there was Barbarella, there was Numbers, the venerable dance club for former club kids and their offspring looking to follow in their footsteps. Don all black, apply the eyeliner, and get a glimpse of the iconic ’80s night every Friday. Numbers is even hosting a “Retro” Super Bowl party, with a late ’80s/early ’90s theme. This is something you likely won’t get in Midtown.

Raven Tower/White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N Main St. These flashy new venues are a two-for-one special. White Oak hosts bigger names in a modern building with a large downstairs stage and a small upstairs room, while Raven Tower typically hosts local acts in a stage located in the shadow of a one-of-a-kind former bachelor pad suspended in the air (and visible from the freeway). White Oak provides the panache, but Raven Tower tosses in the local flavor.

Rudyard’s, 2010 Waugh Dr. This long-standing, formidable Montrose-area venue hosts musicians upstairs (with far more variance than typical “bar-band” selections) and is one of the best pure bar experiences downstairs, whose burgers are among the city’s finest. Even with a metal show on the second floor, Rudyard’s remains a charming place to catch a game or enjoy a casual night with friends.

Satellite Bar, 6922 Harrisburg Blvd. A relatively new experience on the city’s rising East End, Satellite Bar has the appeal of a laid-back, come-as-you-are bar with a stage set in the corner and tons of outdoor space. It’s a welcome addition to Houston’s roster of unpretentious yet hip venues catering to local and regional acts.

Walter’s Downtown, 1120 Naylor St. This venerable, gritty institution, once housed on party street Washington Avenue, cleaned itself up and made a successful move near downtown a few years ago. Walter’s offers an exciting, eclectic mix of live music: rock, electronic, hip-hop, you name it, with a friendly neighborhood, off-the-beaten-path vibe. The curated record shop Deep End is also housed within its doors.

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