Musicians, Bands and DJ's Grace the Live Music Scene in San Antonio
By Kimberly Suta
San Antonio Local Expert
There's a surprising number of San Antonio bands, singers and DJ's on the scene these days. Although they can't compete with Austin's music scene just yet, you're sure to find some unique and exciting live music the next time you're in the Alamo city.
Concrete Jungle is a favorite hang out to simply relax and enjoy some chill music with some incredible tiki cocktails. You'll find some awesomely unique acts here, including one that resembles the well-known Flight of the Conchords. While Concrete Jungle can be a great stop on a tour of Southtown bars, it's also the kind of place you might find yourself spending the whole evening. The drinks are affordable and the bar food is on point!
Popular indie bands enjoy playing at Sam's Burger Joint, which is a large venue that comes with a side of delicious burgers and fries. Popular bands, such as Girl in a Coma, have been known to play here.
To get a true taste of Texas, make sure to add Cowboy's DanceHall and Gruene Hall to your list. Gruene Hall is an iconic venue that could tell some amazing stories, if those walls could talk. The fact is no matter what kind of mood you're in, you'll find some great live music to reflect it!
Rosario's, which has been around now for over 20 years, has transported itself from a local favorite to a critically-acclaimed restaurant. They have been featured in Southern Living, Texas Monthly and The New York Times, and have been listed as one of the "Top 50 Restaurants in the U.S." by Hispanic Magazine. From their Chile Relleno de Pescado (shrimp and fish stuffed poblano pepper) to their fajitas and enchiladas, there is not one thing on the menu you won't be wanting to return for again and again. They offer live music on the weekends and specialize in gigantic margaritas that are almost a meal by itself! (210-223-1806)
The White Rabbit is one of only a few alternative rock venues in San Antonio, and one of the only ones large enough to have a raised stage. Some of their upcoming shows will showcase For the Fallen Dreams, Hudredth, Upon This Dawning, Sworn In and Wolves at the Gate. White Rabbit typically attracts a mostly young crowd to its black‑lit recesses but it's an excellent choice for a rowdy fun evening. As for food and drink, they offer an on-site bar and pizza shop that's not half bad when you're hungry. (210-737-2221)
Go to Cowboys Dancehall for some boot-stomping fun and authentic live Texas music! They are located on the northeast side of San Antonio and are probably the largest and most impressive music venue in the city. Besides great music and country dancing, Cowboys sports an indoor rodeo arena where you can see live events, such as professional bull riding. You'll want to plan ahead so you can buy your tickets early because many of their concerts feature well-known artists of all genres so they sell out fast. If your shy or out of practice, be sure to take advantage of Cowboys' dance lessons. (210-646-9378)
Swig Martini Bar
Follow the long bar that meanders through Swig and you'll likely find your way to a Hemingway Classic from the extensive cigar list, or perhaps a Flirtini with pineapple juice and champagne. At one of the only martini bars on the River Walk, cosmopolitan locals hobnob with the tourist set, yielding a chic yet welcoming atmosphere. Live jazz supplies the perfect backdrop for savoring smokes and drinks. Swig has been around a while so they know how to take care of their patrons. They also usually have some live Jazz going on, which sets the absolutely ideal mood for late night fun. (210-476-0005)
The Liberty Bar is a popular hub in Southtown for dining and live music. It's the perfect place to kick back and relax while enjoying some fantastic food and low key but exceptional music. While it can get crowded, as long as you have a table you'll be nice and cozy. Nothing's better than a glass of wine and some fine tunes. The Liberty Bar features talented local musicians, largely singer songwriters that fit the vibe. One of the nice things is you generally don't have to pay an entrance fee, but no doubt you'll end up with a few drinks and some good food if you stay for more than a few songs. This cool neighborhood joint has been around for a while and exists now in a building that was once a convent. The have a pretty extensive menu and the food is made from scratch. It consists of homey food that makes you all warm and cozy inside, things like pot roast and their infamous roasted lamb plate. (210-227-1187)
Olmos Bharmacy is a local's favorite for good food and live music. Back in the "old days," this place was a Pharmacy, built in 1938, that was eventually turned into a restaurant. Now, when you walk into the Olmos Bharmacy, it's like walking into the past. You sit at the counter with a glass of wine, Belgian beer, or even a homemade milkshake, and it feels like you walked into the past. The Art Moderne style of the new exterior was considered quite daring for the area at the time, and today the building is considered an architectural treasure. The Bharmacy showcases a nice variety of live music, from Small World Jazz Jam on Mondays to Rod Campbell's Celtic Jam on Thursdays. ((210) 822-1188)
The Cove is quickly becoming one of the most popular venues for local live music in San Antonio because of their relaxed atmosphere, great food and quality entertainment. This is the kind of place that looks like it belongs in a movie. This one-of-a-kind restaurant, beer garden, live music venue is also, strangely, a Laundromat and carwash. The picnic-style seating, both inside and out, make for a very casual yet intimate atmosphere that is both family-friendly and dive bar-esque at the same time. Expect to hear some great local bands every night of the week (except for when they're closed on Mondays), including big jazz bands, folk music, country and more. The menu is exceptional with a care for using local, organic ingredients, grass-feed beef and the like. ((210) 227-2683)
Although Gruene Hall is located outside the city limits of San Antonio, it's worth the extra gas to get to what has now become an iconic venue. Built in 1878, Gruene Hall is considered the oldest running dance hall in Texas, and the Central Texas birthplace to many famous songwriters and musicians, including George Strait, Ace in the Hole, Jerry Jeff Walker, Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Hal Ketchum, Bruce and Charlie Robison, and many more. This is the place to put your boots on (or an excuse to buy some if you don't already have a pair), grab your guy or gal and head on down for an evening to remember! (830-606-1281)
Sam's Burger Joint
Many people in San Antonio claim that Sam's Burger Joint is the best place to see live music. In fact, for the second straight year, they have been awarded BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE by San Antonio Magazine. In terms of a good ol' relaxed place to kick back and grab a great burger while enjoying some live music with your buddies, Sam's Burger joint is the joint! They have a fairly large venue for concerts that sits behind the diner-style restaurant. Throughout the years, they've seen some great acts blow through, including local legend, Girl In A Coma, who are on their way to international acclaim. ((210) 223-2830)
Concrete Jungle is a tiki bar. What's a tiki bar? Well, they were popular in the 30's, 40's and 50's after WWI. Ever heard of the Singapore Sling? In San Antonio, there aren't many post-prohibition era bars, and perhaps none as lovingly tiki-themed as Concrete Jungle. One of the great perks about this bar, besides their hand-crafted tropical drinks, is the Asiany food provided by the owner, Rudolfo Martinez, who is a formally-trained chef with plans to eventually open a restaurant. Tapa Tapa truck provides yummy bar food, all made from scratch. All the ingredients for both the drinks and the cuisine are also sourced locally, so you can feel good about a carefree night out. Live music is on offer here... both in the form of musicians and DJ's, although it changes from week-to-week, so make sure to consult their Facebook page for details. You might also be interested in Karaoke night and comedy night as well, which features local comedians. Best thing about all of this? Zero cover! Enjoy your umbrella'd drink and relax. (210-373-9907)
About Kimberly Suta
Kimberly A. Suta is a professional freelance writer, filmmaker and entrepreneur with a background in marketing, advertising and social media. Her first business, Midnight Sun Innovations, involved a partnership with Regal Cinemas, the largest theatre chain in the world. Kimberly has written, directed and produced several films that have screened at Texas film festivals and she produces an annual film competition at the popular Alamo Drafthouse theatre. She recently published her second novel, The Rain Queen, which can be found on Amazon.com. Kimberly currently lives and works in San Antonio, Texas, a place of much inspiration to her.
Read more about Kimberly Suta here.