If you're looking for great live music of the local and touring variety, chances are you're thinking of hitting the St. Mary's Strip. And you're not wrong. Our fair city, however, boasts plenty of other great spots around town to dig live music of all types. So let's say you decide to skip the Strip, where should you go?
The Downtown area is home to four solid venues in particular. The Aztec Theatre (104 N. St. Mary's St., 210-812-4355, theaztectheatre.com), The Majestic Theatre (224 E. Houston St., 210-226-3333) and The Empire Theatre (226 N. St. Mary's St., 210-226-3333, majesticempire.com). Obviously, these venues are theaters, which means they host all types of shows, but each, in their own way, contributes something unique to SA's live music milieu. The Aztec Theatre, which recently sold booking rights to Live Nation's House of Blues Entertainment, is a beautifully restored historical building that first opened its doors back in 1926.
Meanwhile, the Majestic and Empire Theatres (which are owned and run by the same folks) offer classical music, opera, big-name comedians, traveling and local shows for children, and legacy shows by folks like Graham Nash, Blind Boys of Alabama and John Fogerty.
The Korova (107 E. Martin St., 210-995-7229, thekorova.com) is a loosely Clockwork Orange-themed punk bar, with a sweet riverside location and a penchant for bringing in your older tío's favorite rock bands
On the Museum Reach, DIY punk venue and longtime favorite of many of SA's finest local music lifers, The Ten Eleven (1011 Avenue B, 210-320-9080, theteneleven.com) is the grimiest establishment you could hope to find yourself in and still be on the River Walk. Unpretentious: check. Loud as hell: on the best nights.
One of the best places to catch live music outside of Loop 410 is 502 Bar (502 Embassy Oaks, 210-257-8125, 502bar.com), which boasts one of the best sound systems in town.
Also outside the loop, Fitzgerald's Bar (437 McCarty, Suite 101, 210-629-5141), Alamo City Music Hall (1305 E. Houston St., alamocitymusichall.com) and Floore's Country Store (14492 Old Bandera Road, Helotes, 210-695-8827, liveatfloores.com) all feature consistently full show schedules. At Fitzgerald's, you might find a local hip-hop benefit, some local alt-rock would-have-beens or a singer-songwriter showcase on any given night. On the other hand, Alamo City Music Hall and Floore's, respectively, boast the best of touring hip-hop/R&B and country/Americana fare.