Austin: Keeping Us Weird Since 1839
Today’s Texas Music owes much to the weirdness that is Austin, Texas.
Austin may not have a lot of in common with the rest of its Texan neighbors, but it surely does with the global music and the international art scene.
So catch a couple of affordable seats on Southwest and head on down to Austin to discover why most of the cars, trucks and t-shirts of the city proudly proclaim, “Keep Austin Weird.”
Austin is a flourishing, wealthy city that is driven by the need for self-expression, a hunger for music incorporating and crossing all genres, and the pride of a history that is truly unique.
Originally the capital of the Republic of Texas, Austin remained the capital of the Texas when the state integrated into America in 1845. The Texas State Capitol Complex is definitely worth a visit. The gardens are peaceful, as well as the 1856 Governor’s Mansion is an incredible architectural instance of the Greek revival design.
But history tours aren’t why you came down here. You came for the music!
It’s All About The Music
Austin Texas is referred to as the “Live Music Capital of the World” for good reason. The slogan became official in the 1990s when it was found that Austin Texas had more live music venues per capita than anywhere else in the nation.
There are more than 2,000 bands and performing artists. From blues to country to jazz indie rock, Spanish rock and more, Austin’s 200 live music venues mean you can watch a show any day of the week. It is nearly too much to take in.
Wander down 6th Street on any night, and you will find yourself overtaken by jazz, rock progressions, twanging country and electro.
Festivals That Get Weird
Austin is also known for its unusual and wonderful festivals.
Every year, Austin hosts the renowned South by Southwest music and film festival, which has eventually become a tremendous party and showcase for the whole live music industry and the technology/design bunch.
Another really interesting event, the Austin Reggae Fest, is hosted in April.
You’d better have an open mind when seeing Austin during festival season. Eeyore’s Birthday Party is an annual celebration of self-expression where face-painted families mingle next to hillbilly rockers and drag queens.
Austin also hosts SPAMARAMA, the famous annual court to SPAM in all forms. The food, not the advertising sin. This festival comprises a recipe competition, a cook-off, a SPAM sculpture contest and the SPAMALYPICS. You’ll only need to see it to comprehend it.
Film and Theatre Alternatives
Austin also boasts an eclectic picture and theatre business. Over ten theaters that are independents line the roads of Austin, offering many theater choices ranging from offbeat and classical to improv and cutting edge. Also, take a look at the Off Center for a real taste of Austin’s original music, humor and theatre.
The Top 10 live music venues in Austin
If you are in the mood for live music, Austin has an overwhelming choice of bars, honky saloons featuring everything from big name acts to country singers and eclectic/avant-garde acts. Here are ten spots locals favor.
With a long and proud African American history, the Victory is on the National Register of Historic Places and is known for Monday-night blues.
The Carousel Lounge
Weird beyond description, this place feels like a David Lynch recruited the staff. The music is eclectic has hell, with acrobats dancing around and pink elephants everywhere. It’s a trip.
The White Horse
Features some of Austin’s finest new state talent nearly every night of the week, along with Conjunto shows on Sunday that attract older Tejano crowds.
One of Austin’s few dedicated jazz clubs, the Elephant Room is a quintessential jazz joint.
Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon
A little steeple-topped dive bar famous for Chicken Shit Bingo (look it up). The place is small and the dance floor gets cramped. So, it’s awesome.
Musical offerings are as eclectic as the people that run the place, who hail from Houston, Austin, and Niger. You can hear Brazilian one night and funk, African, or swing the next.
The Paramount is the city’s oldest theatre, one of the most beautiful places to listen to music in the city. Sometimes features big name acts.
Hole in the Wall
The Hole in the Wall, in operation for over 40 years, is the University of Texas college bar par excellence. Think: low-cost music, quick drinks, live girls. Stevie Ray Vaughan, Shawn Colvin, Nanci Griffith and Lucinda Williams all have performed here. You never know who might show up.
Beerland offers up loud music – punk, metal and garage bands – and encourages fans to join them for an all-out orgy of loud music and cheap beer. Fun with bruises, in other words.
The Continental Club Gallery
One of the most famous clubs in Austin. Some of the best Country and Swing downstairs. Or head upstairs to the Gallery for a cosy, trendy living room vibe.