Houston Venue Spotlight: White Oak Music Hall
Certain venues come around to set the standard for the larger community. White Oak Music Hall (WOMH) is one such venue. You can think of it as the higher-end of medium-sized venues, catering to an array of concerts, and managed by professionals with a real history in Houston’s live music scene.
WOMH is located in north Houston, around two miles out of downtown. An expansive establishment spanning over five acres, the venue has made a reputation in Houston as one of the city’s premier venues.
The venue staff is extremely professional — if a bit no-nonsense. The shows run on time and concert-goers are made to leave the venue promptly after the closing act, leaving patrons with more than enough time to catch a few drinks at the sister bar next door, Raven Tower.
The venue hosts three distinct stages in order to accommodate a variety of different shows. The downstairs stage is what you would typically think of for showcases of proven talent. Musical acts like Kurt Vile, Blood Orange, Jenny Lewis, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra have graced this stage in the past, each packing out the room with a 1000+ capacity. It’s a massive room, with an expansive bar, known for putting on memorable shows with legendary performers.
The upstairs is a smaller room with a 200 occupancy cap; more fitted for intimate shows and bands that are on the rise. Somewhat paradoxically, the upstairs room offers a massive balcony for smokers and those looking to catch some fresh air, along with the more intimate setting, making for a much more comfortable atmosphere overall. These shows are a high-scale duplication of dive venues, giving WOMH the uncanny ability to have some variety in their shows.
Perhaps the most notable stage is their massive outdoor arena, known as the Lawn, which can hold up to 3000 people. Initially, the outdoor stage was intended to be the setting of smaller festivals, which makes sense considering that one of the venue’s creators was a partner in Houston’s infamous Summerfest festival, a cultural juggernaut in the city during the mid-2000s. However, the nearby neighborhood created some difficulties for the venue that were well-publicized, and the massive stage went notably unused for some time after its creation, except for an initial mini-festival to commemorate the venue’s opening back in 2016. However, it seems that relations have since normalized, and acts like Tame Impala, Jason Isbell, and Father John Misty have recently made appearances on the outdoor stage.
White Oak Music Hall is still new, with many years to show the city what it has to offer, but the figures are in: WOMH is one of the best venues in the city, with few who can successfully imitate it.