Whether you're sitting back in relaxation or up with the crowd, here are some of the best places for live music in Oklahoma City with unique atmospheres and even better music. There are a couple of popular venues, of course, but also a couple of little-known live music gems.
OKC Zoo Amphitheatre
Many would call this the best venue for live entertainment in Oklahoma City. The outdoor Zoo Amphitheatre is quite a unique live music experience. See the concerts seated on the grass or a blanket under the stars.
Chesapeake Energy Arena
This is the home to the majority of the metro's "headline" concerts and tours. Acts that have played here include Coldplay, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Journey, Eric Clapton, Evanescence, The Who, Rod Stewart, Carrie Underwood and more. It's far from an intimate setting, as the Chesapeake Energy Arena arena is nearly 600,000 square feet. Concerts are often "in-the-round," and the big name acts routinely draw many thousands of fans. Nevertheless, the sound system is more than adequate to make a great concert.
Riverwind opened in August of 2006. Performers at the "ShowPlace Theatre" have included Styx, Kool & the Gang, Bad Company, Rick Springfield, Kenny Rogers, Gladys Knight, Foreigner, The Beach Boys, Hootie and the Blowfish and more. The much smaller River Lounge features free live music on occasion as well. Seating a modest 1500, it has a VIP mezzanine and private balconies.
UCO Jazz Lab
If you like jazz, this is definitely the place for you. Located in Edmond, the UCO Jazz Lab is home to the university's Jazz Studies Division, but it also becomes an amazing New Orleans-style music venue on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights when you can catch jazz, blues, soul and folk music. Intimate and comfortable, the UCO Jazz Lab is a unique place to sit back and relax to the sounds of great music. Food and drinks are provided by the next door Hideaway Pizza, itself one of the best in OKC.
TapWerks calls itself an "Ale House and Cafe." You'll find an extensive collection of beers and a menu with some surprisingly good options in addition to the standard hamburgers and sandwiches. The main floor is a restaurant while the live music is upstairs. It's quite a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere.
Remington Park's Wild Rush Stage in the center of the casino has live music every Thursday through Saturday from 9 pm to 1 am. It's a bar-like atmosphere at the Wild Rush Stage, and you might occasionally be bothered if you mind smoking. But otherwise, it's a fun venue, particularly on Karaoke night Thursdays.
The Criterion in Bricktown is an excellent spot for live music in Oklahoma City. Perhaps the only drawback is that don't have shows that often.
Route 66 Road House
Living up to its name, this popular spot features blues, jazz, rock-n-roll in a fun roadhouse environment. It's a fairly laid-back atmosphere at the Route 66 Road House. With food, pool tables, darts and an intimate stage setting, it's an enjoyable live music experience.
An event facility in Bricktown, this venue plays host to a number of concerts of varying styles. With a capacity of a bit over 300, the Bricktown Ballroom is very comfortable with a more than adequate sound system. There is also a dance floor.
All ages are welcome at the Conservatory to catch a number of touring and local bands. You'll find some unique, under-the-radar bands and talented upstarts in rock each night of the week. You can often be pressed in tight with other concert-goers at the Conservatory, and depending on the music, there may be a couple of rowdy patrons at the fairly small venue. But generally, it's a respectful and attentive crowd.
You'll find a nice mix of "American roots" music from alternative country to bluegrass at The Blue Door. Owner Greg Johnson says they place an emphasis "on the song" while hosting many leading Oklahoma songwriters such as Jimmy Webb and Kevin Welch.
A small music venue, The Blue Door is relaxed and comfortable. It's non-smoking, and visitors can bring their own ice chests.