The House of Blues (and the accompanying Foundation Room) in the Houston Pavillions complex brings major acts (MGMT, Bone Thugs N' Harmony) but is sometimes better enjoyed for it's crazy cover bands — from Michael Jackson impersonators to '70s-inspired phenoms Le Freak.
The Houston counterpart to the Austin staple is owned and operated by Peter Gordon (professionally known as Pete Gray) who also plays in bands including the El Orbits.
Located on the cusp of downtown on Main Street, the Continental Club draws classic acts from multiple genres, from Houston Funk Factory to The Blaggards to Glover Gill Tango. They also sometimes cook killer barbecue in back by Adam and Lena Fisher.
Love the atmosphere provided by the original fixtures from the building's previous as a 1920's department store — tin ceiling and vintage neon light fixtures.
The Swell Season concert at Warehouse Live in November 2009 was in the top five shows ever for this writer, and it wasn't all the band (though I lurv them). Also a favorite venue for special events, Warehouse Live is, essentially, a giant warehouse. It's got fantastic acoustics and attracts well-known but not mainstream bands like Rilo Kiley, Nelo, Tegan and Sara, G. Love and Special Sauce, Yo La Tengo, Keane, Passion Pit (we could go on . . .)
A Houston Heights staple since 1977, Fitzgerald's was once home to acts like James Brown and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The renovated dive is now considered a local music headquarters for the hipster set. Think groups like the Miniature Tigers, Jason Reeves and Dead Confederate.
This funky north downtown bar, concert venue and restaurant is on the National Register of Historic Places and is run by long-time quirky Houston favorite Dawn Fudge. It's nondescript (read: you've got to know where it is and knock to enter) but super laid back, with a back patio strewn with Christmas lights and good Mexican food.
The stage out back hosts bands like Green Mountain Grass, Steve Straker and Potroast, geered for a 19-and-up crowd.
Drum circles are the norm.
Although it's a bit of a drive of inner loopers, The Woodland's Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion snags the biggest names coming to town — Van Morrison, Tom Petty and Dave Matthews Band are just a few of the acts to grace it this year.
If you don't want to pony up for the covered seats, the lawn is always moderately priced and picnic friendly. Rules on what you can bring in vary with performer, so be sure to check the website first.
Located in the heart of downtown at Bayou Place, Verizon Wireless is the perfect place to catch major acts on a smaller stage. Although it plays host to touring acts like Chelsea Handler and even Charlie Sheen, we prefer to see our favorite bands — like the Avett Brothers in 2011 —a little closer there than we might at the stadium venues.