25 More Legendary Houston Music Venues

Categories: Only In Houston

Jacksons84-0827.jpg
Photo courtesy of Bruce Kessler/Rockinhouston.com
The Jacksons' "Victory" tour hits the Astrodome, November 1984
When Rocks Off published our choices for "Houston's Top 25 Closed Music Venues" back in July, we knew all along there would be a Part 2. We just didn't know how many were left. Today, after excavating the memories of 25 more, we're still probably not done.

Please let us know what else we missed, and we'll keep it going.

The Abyss
After Washington Avenue metal haven the Vatican closed its doors in the early '90s, it was reopened as the Abyss and continued to host sweaty thrashers and doom merchants until 1998 when the money ran out.

What many headbangers seem to remember most about the joint was its total lack of air-conditioning, which made every show a sweaty endurance test. The place was meant to hold fewer than 300 people, but many more than that were regularly crammed into the dilapidated space to see and hear the likes of Marilyn Manson, Weezer, Mercyful Fate, Neurosis and plenty others. NATHAN SMITH

Ale House
This haunted house on Alabama near Kirby with its second-story bar was Houston home base for the True Believers, whose shows brought out a fire-code-flouting throng that bounced and hopped and danced so much it seemed like the building might just shake apart.

Irish manager/booker Angela Mullan had an ear that was just ahead of trends, and always made room for hard working locals. On good nights, the long metal staircase up the back of the building supported half the ganja smokers in town. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH

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Photo courtesy of Bruce Kessler/rockinhouston.com
The Astrodome
These days, local officials seem plum out of ideas on what to do with the former Eighth Wonder of the World, but at one time, the Dome was one of the premiere venues of any kind on the planet. In addition to its regular usage as Earth's first air-conditioned sporting palace, the Astrodome played host to some huge concerts over the years, particularly during the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Elvis Presley played to more than 200,000 fans during a run of six shows in the Dome in 1970, and Michael Jackson filled the place up at the height of his powers alongside his brothers on the Jacksons' legendary Victory Tour. Tejano-pop queen Selena appeared headed for crossover superstardom when she sold out the Astrodome during her final Rodeo appearance in 1995, barely a month before her death. NATHAN SMITH

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Photo courtesy of MJ Holley
Billy Blues
We got more feedback about Billy Blues' omission from our first list than any other venue. The idea of a big, brassy blues club was quite a bit more viable 20 years ago than today. and much respect to The Big Easy for keeping the dream alive in Houston. Back in the '90s, Billy Blues was one of the Richmond Strip's flagship clubs, as known for the solid mix of local, regional and national acts that performed there as the giant saxophone out front. CHRIS GRAY

Blythe Spirits
One frozen night in the early late 1980s -- one of those rare nights when it actually froze in Houston -- I saw my life flash before my eyes on the metal fire escape that led from Blythe Spirts to the street below. Helping a friend haul gear down the steps after a gig, I envisioned myself slipping on the icy stairs and being crushed by a refrigerator-sized bass cabinet. Fortunately, I lived to tell the story and remember what a cool place the upstairs pub (now it's Cecil's) on West Gray used to be.

There were plenty of folk acts that graced the stage and an open mike that often brought out the who's who of Houston songwriters, but even loud rock bands like Kings X would occasionally rattle the walls and collapse ear drums. JEFF BALKE


List continues on the next page.

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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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