The state of Texas is huge. There's a reason we say everything is bigger here, and when it comes to our musical heritage it's no exception. You could spend a lifetime exploring all the nooks and crannies of Texas music and still come up short on seeing it all. But chiseling it down to a list of the absolute must do, must see and must attend venues, acts and events across this great state of ours? That's a task worth undertaking.
And we've done just that, putting together a list of the 50 most essential Texas music experiences. We love this state and its musical culture, and we've gone out of our way to experience as much of it as possible. Now we want to help you do the same with our Texas Music Bucket List. So gas up your cars, and get to traveling people.
50. Visit the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in Carthage
There's no better place to start learning about where so much of this state's musical history and identity has come from. But really, it's pretty self explanatory, isn't it?
49. Tejano Cujunto Festival in San Antonio
Because there's a huge music scene in this state no one covers, and this is its ACL. Culture yourself.
48. Catch an up-and-coming act at Hotel Vegas in Austin
They book the bands you'll be paying $45 to see in two years.
47. Go to the Continental Club in Austin
Bringing the rock since 1957, this is the Austin venue all other Austin venues dream to be.
46. Live from the AstroTurf at Good Records
Pro tip: The best bands coming through Dallas usually show up to do special shows at the state's best record store. Try to catch 'em if you can.
45. Score free drinks at a showcase at SXSW
It's almost a rite of passage to get free booze at a showcase and live the Cash Money Motto.
44. See Beyoncé
She's a cultural icon, and the Houston native makes sure she brings all of her fierceness when she plays in her home state. Miss Third Ward is a must-see live.
43. Catch a Country Super Show
More fun than an SEC tailgate, wilder than a frat party and 1,000 percent more likely to make you wish for crippling illness.
42. Attend a Girls Rock Showcase
Because not only are you helping diversify the music scene in this state, but these girls really fucking rock.
41. Grambling State vs. Prairie View A&M battle of the bands at the State Fair
Think Drumline, but interesting, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You'll forever scoff at people who forward Ohio State's band videos to you because they're way too white.
40. Levitation (formerly Psych Fest) in Austin
But for the love of God, do not do any mind-altering substances. You might never come back.
39. Austin360 Amphitheater at Circuit of The Americas
They spent a whole lot of money to build a spot for you to see all the best touring bands in the world. Plus, you know, fancy international car racing is right there. This is so new Austin.
38. Attend a Performance by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra
'Cause you fancy, huh?
37. The Historic Majestic Theater in San Antonio
Wear a suit. You need to show respect to the state's most elegant venue.
36. Catch an alt-country show at Floore's Country Store in Helotes
Make sure you scream "OUTLAW COUNTRYYYYY!!!" at the end of the encore.
35. Crate digging at Forever Young Records in Grand Prairie
You need to up your record-collection game, and this behemoth of a shop is just the place to do it. Just try to not get lost when going aisle to aisle.
34. Wednesday night with RC & the Gritz at The Prophet Bar
You'll never dance harder, or want to go to karaoke, again.
33. Kerrville Folk Fest
You will see Molly, she just won't be freshly showered.
32. New Year's Eve at Lights All Night
You will see Molly.
31. Drink a Texas craft beer at Spune's Untapped Fest
Preferably a St. Arnold's if you're at the Houston edition, or a Rahr if you're at the Fort Worth original.
30. New Year's Day in Galveston for the Townes Van Zandt Wake at the Old Quarter Cafe
Order a vodka and orange soda, and drink to the greatest songwriter this state ever saw.
29. Austin Blues Society open mic at Antoine's
You never know who might show up, and who might become a star. This is called the Gary Clark Jr. rule.
28. Attend a taping of Austin City Limits
You'll officially be a part of this state's (and the world's) musical history.
27. Catch a DJ at spring break in South Padre
But make sure you don't catch anything else that's readily available during the week.
26. Parade of Flesh's Spillover Fest in Deep Ellum
It's the best time you'll have at SXSW, and you'll have it in Dallas.
25. 1919 Hemphill in Fort Worth
You're a poser till you catch a random 12-band lineup at the crown jewel of the North Texas DIY scene.
24. A house show
Just make sure it's in a college town, and you know none of the bands. Check ID when you chat someone up.
23. Houston Rodeo
Put on your best boots and buckle, and try to remember you live in the 'burbs, not on the King Ranch.
22. Buddy Holly Statue and West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock
It's literally the only reason to go to Lubbock. Well, other than the binge drinking.
21. Visit the Selena memorial in Corpus Christi
And make sure you bring a white rose with you.
20. Get into the Fader Fort at SXSW
So you can talk about the Fader Fort endlessly.
19. SuperHappy FunLand Houston's DIY venue
Houston's No. 1 spot for DIY art, bands and weirdness.
18. Get weird at NotSuhOh in Houston
Just don't agree to live in a window for a week, and try to play it cool so you're taken upstairs to the after-hours club.
17. Take a line dancing class at Billy Bob's in Fort Worth
That, or some real, live bull-riding INSIDE THE VENUE. It's the preeminent country venue in the state; you better visit it at least once.
16. Free Week at Rubber Gloves in Denton
Denton's dankest rock club makes sure every school year starts with a bang with a week-long showcase of the area's best bands.
15. Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff
Since its rebirth five years ago, there's been no better place to catch a marquee act's performance in the state.
14. Greater SouthWest Music Fest in Amarillo
Troubadour central. If you like traditional music, this is your Shangri-La.
13. Lola's Saloon in Fort Worth
There's no better spot to take a shot and catch a band in Cowtown.
12. Catch a troubadour at The Buzzard Bar in Wimberley
This sleepy artist enclave is known for bringing in some of the best musicians in the state to perform for intimate crowds. This should be your next weekend getaway.
11. Have a drink on the patio of Dan's Silverleaf in Denton
Preferably while watching Hares on the Mountain tear the stage apart while local Denton authorities make handshake deals a table over.
10. Fun Fun Fun Fest Nites
The nighttime offshoot of the popular Austin music festival has quickly become the best side-project of any festival in the state.
9. RL's Blues Palace in South Dallas
Everyone should witness the hen call at least once.
8. See Erykah Badu live
Such a must see that when The Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum decided to re-open they didn't hesitate to have her headline their grand opening.
7. Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic
Though it's no longer located in the Fort Worth Stockyards, this yearly party hosted by the state's most beloved son is a mandatory stop for any true country music fan.
6. Free Press Summer Fest in Houston
Rather unexpectedly, Houston has nabbed the best festival in the state. This beginning-of-summer party has grabbed the "most exciting line-up" title, too, and run with it.
5. The Mohawk in Austin
Austin's best venue is the place to catch the best acts during SXSW, Fun Fun Fun Fest, ACL, and really any night of the week.
4. Fitzgerald's in Houston
Since its revival via new bookers in 2010, Fitz's, which has been in operation since 1977, reclaimed its title as the venue to catch a band at in Houston.
3. Have a dance at Gruene Hall, Texas' oldest dance hall
Indie bands have started making the pilgrimage to New Braunfels to play Gruene, so you have more opportunities than ever to have a truly memorable experience at one of Texas music's real treasures.
2. Visit Luckenbach
Preferably accompanied by music from Waylon, Willie and the boys.
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1. Catch a show at the Ballroom Marfa
Any visit to the West Texas hipster Mecca is incomplete without catching a band touring through the area at this famous venue.
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