The Best Live Music Bars in Houston

Though the “Live Music Capital of the World” is ostensibly 170 miles away, Houstonians tend to think that’s a lot of bluster. A vibrant music city in its own right, Houston’s scene is a fractal of the city itself, with a broad range of styles and venues that—while seemingly disparate—encapsulate a city whose very identity lies in its patchwork nature. As is so often the case, Houston’s music is almost always accompanied by a stiff drink, and vice versa.

  • 1

    Dan Electro’s Guitar Bar

    Smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood north of Downtown, Dan Electro’s is a rec-room roadhouse, with day-glo walls that feel a bit like a 1970s roller rink. The stage is low-slung and intimate; there are structural beams in odd places inside and a surprisingly lush garden patio in the back. Grab a cheap longneck and dance like a maniac.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • live music
    • dancing
    • outdoor / patio
    • bar food
  • 2

    McGonigel's Mucky Duck

    McGonigel’s starts off as a straightforward Irish pub—Black and Tans, pints of Guinness, beef stew with more Guinness. In keeping with Irish pub tradition, The Duck then adds a fine roster of folk, country and traditional musicians in an acoustically impressive room. It’s the kind of place where, after a few pints, you might be inclined to grab a couple of spoons and join in with whoever’s on stage, whether its the weekly round of traditional Irish music or legendary steel player Junior Brown.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • live music
    • bar food
    • full menu
  • 3

    notsuoH

    A who’s who of Houston artists, musicians and general weirdos make up the bulk of the clientele atnotsuoH, but all are welcome. You might get pulled into a chess game or an impromptu mime performance, but you'll never be bored. Grab a beer from downstairs (don’t expect it to be a fancy one) and head upstairs to see an anarchist punk band or an interactive performance piece.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • games
    • live music
    • historic
  • 4

    Rudyard’s British Pub

    Rudyard’s is well-worn and well-loved for its above average bar food, surprisingly good beer selection and one of the most eclectic stages in the city. Local favorites threaten to break through the ceiling most nights of the week, and, if you’re lucky, you just might catch ultimate outsider artist and Houston legend, Jandek. 

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
    • outdoor / patio
    • live music
    • bar food
    • games
  • 5

    Under the Volcano

    Frozen Screwdrivers and an array of local and national musical acts draw a diverse crowd to this neighborhood bar dressed up with tropical Dia de los Muertos décor. Just off the campus of Rice University, the bar boasts a cozy warren of rooms and two patios, with bands setting up right in the middle of the action. Don’t be surprised when an impromptu dance floor is created and fills up.  

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    KNOWN FOR

    • live music
    • outdoor / patio
    • bar food
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