In my Backstage Pass series, I take you behind the scenes of my favorite music adventures.
Let’s be clear: I am not hip. The night before I went to check out The Raven Tower – Houston’s newest hangout bar and music venue owned by the team behind Free Press Summer Fest – was spent knitting and sipping whiskey neat like I was 80 years old. No apologies.
But the next night? The next night was for being hip and checking out the newest spot to see bands and drink cold beers in Houston. When you live in the fourth largest city in the country, there is no shortage of music venues. From the historic Fitzgerald’s and hole-in-the-wall Walter’s Downtown to the corporate House of Blues we have a little bit of everything in H-town.
Now we have a little more.
And it’s pretty dang cool.
My original musical partner in crime, Mel, and I decided to check out The Raven Tower at their soft opening. We ordered beers and hung out on the patio. We stepped inside the music venue portion and marveled at the sound. We even climbed four stories of stairs (in wedge heels!) to check out an absolutely killer view of downtown Houston from the tower that was formerly a bachelor pad. Yes, really – more on that below.
Here’s our night in photos:
For reference, this is what The Raven Tower looks like – I never got a good full exterior shot. Photo from their website.
And here’s the view as you approach from the street. The Raven Tower is located just north of downtown Houston off I-45 and North Street, and the stage area is open air. It was perfect this cool January evening, but come July? It might be another story.
Let it be said now this is yet another music venue in town with a parking problem. Better open up that Uber account you’ve been putting off (like me) or learn to light rail (also like me).
And that wraps up my complaints. Everything else was awesome. Another view inside as you walk in. I kind of like that you can see backstage from the street. That + how the green room is set up inside makes it feel a little bit like Emo’s in Austin, may it rest in peace.
When you head all the way to the back, you gain access to Raven Tower’s patio and back bar. It’s a cool indoor/outdoor space that will be perfect for afternoon weekend hangs when the weather is gorgeous.
Close up at the bar. Be nice, we’re new! (As in still bringing in glasses in their original shipping boxes new.)
Tons of great Texas beers on tap!
View of the patio that backs up to the very edge of Little White Oak Bayou. (God help them when it floods…) Full of picnic tables, TV screens and space for hanging out.
By the way, the bathrooms are fantastic. And if you’re a girl you understand exactly how it feels to walk into a bathroom this nice at a music venue.
Seriously. Because most of the time it looks more like this.
Bonus points for the cool bathroom art. The team running The Raven Tower, and its soon-to-be next door neighbor White Oak Music Hall, rented Fitzgerald’s for the last few years. It’s cool to see some of their show posters at the new place.
After drinks, we popped over to the music side of The Raven Tower and caught a few songs by Grand Old Grizzly. And I have to say…the sound was freakin’ spectacular to this music fan’s ears compared to some of the other venues in town.
Mel and I almost left without going up in the venue’s namesake – The Raven Tower. The stage and bar are housed inside what used to be a metal fabrication shop, and the tower? It was the home of R.W. Walker, the business’ owner, and was the ultimate bachelor pad. Allegedly there’s a Texas Monthly article from 1983 that showcases the home if you can dig up a copy. (Internet searches brought me nothing worth sharing.)
It ended up being worth the wait. You climb the tower and when you get to the top, it opens into a room with killer views, cozy couches and spots for hanging and there’s even a bar. But wait…
Climb one more flight of stairs, and you get to stand on a rooftop patio that overlooks the entire venue – and a second make-shift bar. It’s pretty awesome.
Here’s the view of what will soon be White Oak Music Hall. There is a parking lot between the two buildings, but it won’t be nearly enough to accommodate music fans and bar patrons so best to be a good groupie and get there early.
It’d been awhile since I’d looked at an article with the venue’s renderings, so I was glad to bump into my Quiet Company pals Jay and Frankie who reminded me that outdoors there will also be an amphitheater next door! Going to be pretty awesome when it’s all finished.
The Instagram shot that’s worth the wait and the climb. Houston, you’re pretty.
It’s also worth noting The Raven Tower is hosting local food trucks on the west side of their building, so you can get your foodie fix from some Houston favorites. I didn’t partake this visit, but the burgers from The Burger Joint and tacos from LaMacro looked ah-maz-ing.
You can read more about The Raven Tower and get more photos from their opening here:
- theraventower.net – tons of beautiful photos, plus a drink menu and upcoming shows
- The Raven Tower Returns to Life – houstoniamag.com
- Raven Tower Opening Offers a First Glimpse of White Oak Music Hall – houstonpress.com
- First look: Raven Tower to debut at White Oak Music Hall – chron.com
Time to check “visit a new music venue” off the 2016 resolution list!
Houston friends – anyone stopped by Raven Tower yet?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and who you’re excited to see there. I’m hoping to get back later this month for Johnnyswim.
A raving Raven fan,