Oklahoma City is home to some iconic music venues, and while the music route has been through Tulsa in recent years, that is changing with the addition of outstanding new venues like The Criterion in east Bricktown. The 4,000-seat Criterion has adaptable seating to allow for smaller, more intimate shows, a state of the art sound system, and a full bar for concert-goers. A partnership with Live Nation means The Criterion draws the best local and regional acts, especially singer-songwriters, alternative rockers, bluegrass, and country artists.
The Criterion is owned by the same group that made the Wormy Dog Saloon a household name around the state. Originally a Stillwater club, the Wormy Dog in Bricktown hosts top regional talent just about every weekend. Oklahoma City is only a few hours north of Austin, so the roots, Americana, bluegrass and Red Dirt artists who make Austin such a musical mecca, make the trip up Interstate 35 regularly to play the Wormy Dog. One of the side benefits of the venue is that it’s a dance club as well, so feel free to two-step your way through the shows.
The Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma is actually a degree program through the university, but it is also an event center that features a wide range of artists. ACM@UCO, as it’s known, is actually in Bricktown, unlike the university, and it focuses on several different genres. The venue regularly hosts performers—including comedians—with regional and national profiles. As it is contemporary in focus, the artists tend to be across genres, so it’s possible to see jazz, rock, country, swing or just about any other style you can imagine.
Finally, for the serious music fan, the Blue Door is Oklahoma City’s best venue for listeners—no crowd noise, cigarette smoke or nonsense allowed at Blue Door. There are shows nearly every week, and the list of bands and musicians features some of the best local, regional and national acts, especially in the genres of Americana, folk, roots and new grass. Since it doesn’t sell alcohol or food on the premises, you are free to bring your favorite bottle of wine or an ice chest full of beer to enjoy during the show.