The music scene in San Antonio often has to compete with Austin to bring in major national touring acts to their venues because of the prestige that surrounds our neighbors an hour up I-35. However, this doesn’t mean that San Antonio isn’t slowly working their way towards being an established, high variety music town. Local and regional acts also need places to play that allow for intimate settings to garner new fans as well as comfortable, mid-size clubs for their fan base to grow over the years. In fact, rumor has it that areas like the Saint Mary’s Strip (with a storied entertainment history) will soon be known nationwide as being a go-to spot for live music venues ranging from grungy punk clubs to beautiful art deco theaters. Until then, we compiled a list of some of the current venues in San Antonio that provide a variety of genres and environments to enjoy live music. And as local community experts, we believe you must visit them.
Sam’s Burger Joint
This music venue and burger palace has become many a San Antonio local’s favorite spots to catch live music. Both casual music goers and those who crawl out of their holes every so often to watch live music can enjoy Sam’s Burger Joint. Because seated shows hit about a 250 person capacity while standing shows can be up to 500, Sam’s feels intimate for any show they put on. This venue is the go-to place to see Americana, blues, and good old rock-n-roll bands. Additionally, swing dancers around the city flock to the joint every week to hear some live big band music and cut a rug. But it's not just the bands that earn this place a spot on the list, the venue gets a gold star for sound quality, which, as any music lover knows, is a big deal. A difficult criteria to achieve, Sam’s knocks it out of the park in regards to sound quality. As an added bonus, there is food at this place. Fantastic food. You may want to get there early in time for dinner because Sam’s has a 1-pound burger (what…) for you proud carnivores and a pretty great veggie burger for anyone looking for a less intense option.
Where: 330 East Grayson St, San Antonio, TX 78215
Luna describes itself as “San Antonio’s only classic sit down live music nightclub”. With aims to provide patrons with that vintage jazz club atmosphere, friendly staff, and laid back unpretentious style, it is a venue that is trying to encourage the full culture of live music - not just the prestige of the band performing. You can walk into Luna 5 nights a week and hear a different style of music. Jazz, blues, soul, R&B, Latin, funk, you name it, Luna is probably putting on a show for it. Settle down with a nice cocktail or get up on the dance floor and sweep someone off their feet, it’s a great space for whatever you are into. And with a plasma TV behind the bar, that includes those die hard sports fans who want to leave the house but can’t miss the game.
Where: 6740 San Pedro Ave, San Antonio, TX 78216
The interesting thing about 502 Bar is that it rests in an unsuspecting strip center. Folks have been known to keep on driving around thinking they have the wrong address first time they go there to see a concert, later to find out that as soon as they walk into the small, yet intimate venue it continually impresses upon them. With open mic on Sundays, karaoke on Mondays, and all kinds of music on the weekends, 502 Bar has the full spectrum for a fun night spot, great for anyone looking to get out of the house and hear some tunes. This venue is ideal for the younger indie and alternative crowd, bringing in the best of local and regional acts as well as booking some major national touring bands.
Where: 502 Embassy Oaks Ste 138, San Antonio, TX 78216
The Aztec Theatre is The Alamo City's "premier historical multi-purpose entertainment and events facility." Not only is it a cherished historical landmark, it is quickly becoming the must-play room for major national and international touring acts. Opening in 1926 with a 3000 person maximum capacity, the Aztec is known as one of the more glorious theaters in the country. If you are a show-goer who believes the entire atmosphere of a concert is what makes it good, then this environment will fulfill your criteria (think art deco meets Aztec temple). While you're not looking at the beautiful architecture and decoration, turn your eyes toward the stage and see monstrous performances from bands like Switchfoot, Yellowcard, Eddie Money, and many more big names.
Where: 104 N St Marys St, San Antonio, TX 78205
Paper Tiger is working hard to fill in the live music gaps that have been left out of the San Antonio music scene in previous years. Formerly the White Rabbit, which was San Antonio’s well-known dirty punk room, Paper Tiger aims to bring in national touring acts that have previously opted to bypass the Alamo City for better venues. Booking genres like indie, punk, hardcore, hip-hop, electronic, and whatever else you can think of, this venue wants to provide patrons young and old with music they want to hear. Equipped with some fantastic equipment, a best-in-class sound system with two rooms located off the Saint Marys strip is hard to beat. Bands like Frightened Rabbit, Kishi Bashi, and the Old 97s are taking notice and taking the stage, and die-hard fans are showing up in scores. A cool, young, albeit hip, room for anyone looking for a great, unique show.
Where: 2410 N St Marys St, San Antonio, TX 78212
Alamo City Music Hall
The pride and joy of Alamo City Music Hall is its amazing line up of artists that fill the calendar. Taking over the duties of Backstage Live (the former venue), Alamo City is providing the San Antonio youth scene with many of its favorite bands. Hardcore metal fans can enjoy bands like Stick to Your Guns, Polyphia, and more, while punk fans can check out the iconic punk rock band Pennywise; on tour with Strung Out and Unwritten Law later this year. Hip hop and rap artists like Lil Uzivert and Warren G have taken the stage before, and ACMH plans to keep bringing in these great acts. Hosting the Remember the Punks Festival in October, we know many music fans who can't wait to catch MxPx, The Vandals, The Casualties, Lower Class Brats and more - just to name a few of the acts that will be there.
Where: 1305 E Houston St, San Antonio, TX 78202
The Tobin Center is San Antonio’s pride and joy. It includes a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose, 1,738 seat performance hall, a 295-seat studio theater, and a 600-seat outdoor performance plaza right next to the River Walk. The large performance hall is one of the more versatile rooms in the great state of Texas, with “flat-floor” capabilities to change the set up of the room at any time and provide optimal sound for any event. Truly a world-class venue, The Tobin Center is hosting loads of amazing acts this year, including case/lang/veirs, Penny & Sparrow, Clint Black, Kansas, Duran Duran and more. Visuals and sounds alike, this place is a must for any serious concertgoer.
Where: 100 Auditorium Cir, San Antonio, TX 78205
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