The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Concert Venues
As the Houston Press doffs our kudos cap to local institutions great and small in the Best of Houston® 2013 awards, all through October each of our four blogs will be looking beyond the winners of selected categories in a series we like to call "The Rest of the Best." Rocks Off happened to draw Fridays, when music is on many people's minds as they ponder their weekend plans, so we figured we'd start with a pretty big one: the places where all this music we cover almost nightly actually happens.
Photo by Marc Brubaker Arcade Fire at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, May 2011
The editor asked each Rocks Off regular contributors to come up with a Top 5 list of local venues, in order, and added up the scores. For the record, 30 different venues across our sprawling metropolis drew at least one vote, but these are (drum roll)... the rest of the best.
10. CYNTHIA WOODS MITCHELL PAVILION
Photo by Groovehouse Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne in The Woodlands, July 2013
Cynthia Woods is way out in The Woodlands, and the pavilion setting can leave one exposed to the elements, but glance at all the massive names it brings to town. The sound is as fantastic under those giant fans, but if you can't spare change for those high-roller seats, the lawn is where it's at. Chilling on a blanket beneath the stars, with plenty of elbow room, feels like a little bit of paradise. And now that the venue allows fans to bring their own munchies, it's ten times cuter than before. ANGELICA LEICHT
2005 Lake Robbins Dr., The Woodlands, 281-363-3300 or woodlandscenter.org
9. WALTERS DOWNTOWN
Photo by Jim Bricker Featherface at Walters, September 2013
After a protracted (losing) struggle against Washington Avenue douche-ification, Walters' dedicated owner Pam Robinson took over a warehouse space in north downtown and somehow made her eclectic redoubt for both touring and local bands even cooler. Now they get to play in much swankier digs with a great sound system, passionate staff, and excellent drink prices, proving that not all small clubs are dirty.
What sets Walters apart, however, is the club's reputation for giving bands a chance when others venues won't. (And if you were wondering, yes, the bathrooms are much cleaner than those in the Washington Ave location.) ALYSSA DUPREE
1120 Naylor, 713-222-2679, waltersdowntown.com
8. SUPER HAPPY FUN LAND
Photo by Allison Wagoner Acro-Cats (indeed) at Super Happy Fun Land, February 2011
Put bluntly, there's no venue with more character in all of Houston. The place is a total gutter punk DIY heaven, with odd furniture and decorations all over the place, brilliant graffiti and wall art, tables hastily set up to sell cheap merchandise, beer, and local crafts, and most importantly, bands you'd never hear anywhere else. Every venue says they love the strange and the unique, but the folks behind SHFL put their money where their mouth is by hosting some of the most avant-garde shit you've ever seen.
We just had a look at their calendar, and coming up in November is a French artcore band made up of three kids barely out of high school. You're not going to see that in Houston anywhere other than Super Happy Fun Land. JOHN SEABORN GRAY
3801 Polk, 713-880-2100, superhappyfunland.com
List continues on the next page.
2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, TX
1120 Naylor, Houston, TX
3801 Polk, Houston, TX
411 Westheimer, Houston, TX
1500 McKinney, Houston, TX
1204 Caroline, Houston, TX
3700 Main, Houston, TX
813 St. Emanuel, Houston, TX
2706 White Oak, Houston, TX
615 Louisiana St., Houston, TX