The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Concert Venues

Photo by Marc Brubaker
Arcade Fire at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, May 2011
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.

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.

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

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,

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,

List continues on the next page.

Location Info


Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, TX

Category: Music

Walters Downtown

1120 Naylor, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Super Happy Fun Land

3801 Polk, Houston, TX

Category: Music


411 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Discovery Green Conservancy

1500 McKinney, Houston, TX

Category: General

House of Blues

1204 Caroline, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Continental Club

3700 Main, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Warehouse Live

813 St. Emanuel, Houston, TX

Category: Music


2706 White Oak, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Jones Hall For the Performing Arts

615 Louisiana St., Houston, TX

Category: Music

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My Voice Nation Help
Katie Heim
Katie Heim

Cynthia Woods? UGH! I can't even.

James Santos
James Santos

I dig Warehouse Live, but man do I miss The Meridian.

Erika Warren
Erika Warren

Warehouse Live or House of Blues. Both have an up close and personal feel. Gotta love the Woodlands Pavilion though!

Dallas Hölmes
Dallas Hölmes

as long as its not HOB, i can dig it. but if i have a choice, warehouse or meridian.

Hugo Villalobos
Hugo Villalobos

Bayou Music Center? Arena Houston? Toyota Center? Still, kudos to the writer but my favorite will always be Warehouse Live.

Scarlette Lopez
Scarlette Lopez

Fitzgerald's, because there's no pesky barricades or security a-holes yelling at you for taking video or pictures. It's relaxed and a great intimate atmosphere. A very close 2nd is the Bronze Peacock Room at HOB. I once saw the lovely cellist Zoe Keating perform there, and it was even more relaxed and intimate than Fitz. We were all sitting on the floor during the show and she walked out after the show and hung out with us.


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