25 More Legendary Houston Music Venues

Categories: Only In Houston

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Photo by Larami Culbertson
Scott Gertner listens up at SkyBar, March 2009
SkyBar
SkyBar occupied the top floor of the tallest building between Allen Parkway and the Medical Center for a decade, an oasis of uptown sophistication in bohemian Montrose. At the helm was genial musician-owner Scott Gertner, who held court among the city's top-shelf smooth-jazz/R&B acts until bounced by a landlord dispute in 2010. He's now looking for yet another perch after recently vacating even swankier digs at Houston Pavilions. CHRIS GRAY

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Photo courtesy of Bruce Kessler/rockinhouston.com
John then-Cougar Mellencamp at Southern Star, 1982
Southern Star Amphitheater
When Astroworld closed its doors, it was a sad day for kids of all ages across Houston, but the memories weren't limited to the Texas Cyclone. There were also the concerts at Southern Star Amphitheater. Essentially a huge stage in front of a massive parking lot, it was packed by some of the coolest rock and New Wave bands going, and it didn't hurt that your ticket got you free admission to the park. Missing Persons, Night Ranger, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, New Order, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, R.E.M., The Cure, AC/DC, Power Station and more brought the best of the '80s to the place teens called home every summer. JEFF BALKE

Stuka
When Stuka opened in January 2003, owner Tim Murrah made a big splash about its being the anti-Numbers, insisting he didn't care what people wore or what they drank as long as they had a taste for good music (meaning stuff he thought was in good taste). The interior was painted with German WWII bombers and other Nazi-era art, and it didn't take long for local Jews to take offense. Stuka's fate was sealed almost before it picked up any momentum at all, but we recall seeing a Dragons/Riverboat Gambler's bill there that was as good as anything going on. But the club never truly caught on. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH

The Unicorn
The Unicorn wasn't around terribly long, but in the early '90s the former supermarket at 59 and Tidwell managed to host many of the top names in alternative, punk and metal shortly before they got a lot bigger: Beastie Boys, Pantera, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Social Distortion, etc. The first few Lollapalooza lineups could have been hand-picked from the Unicorn archive at setlist.fm. CHRIS GRAY

Urban Art Bar
It's hard to believe now, but downtown used to be a ghost town after dark, save a strange little underground scene in the northwest corner that included places like Power Tools and the Urban Art Bar. Though it wasn't around long, UAB was one of those places that made suburbanites feel like they were living in the big city when they got to see a show downtown and then swing over to La Carafe for a beer after. JEFF BALKE


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21 comments
Libby Medea
Libby Medea

Thanks for these lists as they brought back a lot of really good memories from days gone by. My favorite non-musical event was at the Tower when the good Dr. Hunter S. Thompson did his best to start a mini-riot during his "performance"'. :D Also a belated FU to the goof who peppered sprayed the front of the stage during a set by the Judybats (also at the Tower). Good times, I tells ya.

wordlover
wordlover

The Skybar on Montrose was the best! I used to go there before Scott took it over, when it was called Codys, and then kept going when it became Skybar.   I then followed Scott downtown when he opened Skybar at the Houston Pavillions, but then that went kerplut.   I'm still upset about that!  :(

Bill Grady
Bill Grady

Oh, balls. Pik n pak was in the first installment. As it should be.

Joe Cote
Joe Cote

I forget...were we 'sweaty thrashers' or 'doom merchants'?

WestSideBob
WestSideBob topcommenter

Saw many a show at UAB.  Seemed to be a favorite stopover for Dred Zeppelin.    Wonder if the members of Phineas Gauge are still around.?

girltr8der
girltr8der

Anyone remember Cardi's?  I saw INXS play there back in early 80's.  How did Rockafellers miss the list? 

txcyclist
txcyclist

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I would swear the Pig & Whistle was on the corner of Richmond and Greenbriar.

Austin Cooley
Austin Cooley

My bad. I read an earlier version that had less than 25 clubs and didn't include The Island. Glad this was updated.

Austin Cooley
Austin Cooley

Yes, but you didn't mention The Island. unforgivable omission.

kmaher23
kmaher23

Another interesting article; those wondering why their favorite club is missing really need to check out the first one, too.  Although Houston's music history is long enough that there are still more venues to remember...

Two small corrections. In the Jester/Sand Mountain days, at the very start of his career, Townes van Zandt's performances were usually excellent & fairly sober. The "falling off his stool" stories came later.  

And Steve Earle was heckled by Townes at the Old Quarter, not Sand Mountain. Here's the story: http://m.npr.org/story/104154336



John Cramer
John Cramer

The Mike Gunn played a good chunk of these as well. Good times.

gilvaz1
gilvaz1

What about Liberty Hall. Springstein and The Ramones played there for several nights.

Also the Texas Opry House. Talking Heads, The Police, Elvis Costello, Magazine, ect. played there.

Agora/Palace, saw The Jam, The Plastics and many more.

Spit hosted Ultravox and the Stranglers.  

Tower Theater, Pretenders, Simple Minds  

wordlover
wordlover

@girltr8der Me! I saw The Outfield play there, they were just starting out.  Good times there!

txcyclist
txcyclist

Cool! There are other old timers reading the Press!

WestSideBob
WestSideBob topcommenter

@txcyclist Yeah ... right across from Shepherd Sq.  A pretty funky building it was :-)

RLDavies
RLDavies

@gilvaz1I worked at the Agora/Palace/Rock Saloon. So many good shows. AC/DC did an impromptu show there the night after playing the Summit.

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