Readers' Choice: House of Blues 2200 N. Lamar St. 214-978-2583
A music venue is more than four walls and a sound system (even if, as in the case of the House of Blues, it's a mind-blowingly stellar sound system). Three years ago, CD World owner Mike Schoder—he of the perfectly casual blond coif and the laidback surfer's grin—bought the storied Granada Theater, which over the years housed everything from Cowboys watching parties to screenings of The Godfather, and it has evolved into the spot for those who eschew corporate-owned venues, for those who would rather attend the Baboon CD release party than a Justin Timberlake show and those who would rather hear Animal Collective than Creed. Schoder's decision to hire local scenester Kris Youmans as a booking agent has improved the caliber of shows dramatically; even with the Charles Attals of the world pushing the majority of artists toward the House of Blues and Palladium, the Granada's blend of indie groups, giant-name artists and local luminaries—everyone from Devendra Banhart to Lucinda Williams to Ghosthustler—has something for anyone who has an ounce of taste. Oh, and don't worry, they still have the Cowboys watching parties.