Things to Do at Home: Music, Concerts, Documentaries & More

Willie Nelson | Photo: Bob Jagendorf via Creative Commons license

Last updated: Friday, March 27, 2020

Tune in, bust a move or chill out with these concerts, music-making apps, music documentaries, and more things to do at home.

Venues across the city might be shut down, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get your groove on from the comfort of your living room.

We’ve begun compiling places where you can catch livestream concerts, view award-winning music documentaries, get making your own tunes, and help out your favorite bands and musicians.

Concerts & Performances

  • Austin City Limits Streaming Concerts – The long-running series airing on PBS has opened their archives, releasing more than thirty fan-favorite installments recorded at the Austin studio. Check out sets from the current season, as well as the previous two years, from acts like Billie Eilish, Vampire Weekend, Willie Nelson, Janelle Monae, Herbie Hancock, LCD Soundsystem and more. Click here to view the catalog of streaming concerts.
  • In My Room: Rolling Stone’s IGTV series – Swing by Rolling Stone Magazine’s Instagram every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2pm for intimate performances by legendary musicians and newer artists as they broadcast brief performances from their homes. Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys kicks off their first episode.
  • DJ D-Nice – The rapper, producer and DJ who got his start with mid-80s group Boogie Down Productions has been cultivating massive followings for his virtual DJ sets. Recently pulling in more than 100,000 viewers that included Michelle Obama, Janet Jackson, Oprah Winfrey and more, DJ D-Nice has been playing hours-long sets that feature classic R&B, soul, old-school hip-hop, dance music and more at what is affectionately known as Club Quarantine.
  • Questlove DJ Sessions – Inspired by DJ D-Nice, The Roots and Jimmy Fallon drummer hopped on the decks for his own Quest Lovers Rock series, featuring epic four-hour sets which can be viewed in their entirety on YouTube. Click here to check out the latest volume of the Quest Lovers Rock series.
  • Third Man Public Access – Founded by White Stripes frontman Jack White, Third Man Records are hosting livestreams from the Blue Room at their Nashville headquarters, beginning at noon. Click here to check out the latest episodes of TMPA.
  • ROCO Weekly Broadcasts & Content LibraryRiver Oaks Chamber Orchestra has opened the doors to their online content library, featuring audio and video recordings of past performances, interactive activity sheets, weekly broadcasts of full orchestra concerts on Sundays at 2pm, and other live performances that can be found on their website and social media.

Streaming Documentaries

  • Gimme Shelter | YouTube – Released in 1970, this harrowing documentary follows The Rolling Stones while on tour in 1969, focusing on their disastrous performance at Altamont Speedway.
  • What Happened, Miss Simone? | Netflix – The Academy Award-nominated documentary dives into the music genius of jazz vocalist Nina Simone, as well as her life of brutal honesty and activism that sheds light on how her legacy has been distorted.
  • Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorcese | Netflix – Legendary filmmaker Martin Scorcese teams up again with Bob Dylan for a film that chronicles the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour using interviews and archival footage. But, in a twist, Bob proves to be an unreliable narrator and the viewer is left guessing what is fact and what is fabricated.
  • Shut Up and Play the Hits | Hulu – The epic concert documentary brings the “final” performances of dance music band LCD Soundsystem as they embark on an emotional farewell in 2013—until they eventually reunite five years later. Even so, the raw feelings come across in their Madison Square Garden shows and the full-cut songs make for an easy way to get off the couch and get dancing in your living room.
  • Long Strange Trip | Amazon Prime – This six-part miniseries offers four hours of footage that chronicles the enthralling rise of one of American pop culture’s signature rock bands, The Grateful Dead.
  • Ken Burns’ Jazz | Amazon Prime – The robust exploration of America’s very own music artform takes a deep dive into where the sounds of jazz originated and grew into an expression of individuality, cementing its place as a musical cornerstone of the world. With over 1,000 minutes of interviews, archival footage, and rare recordings, viewers will undoubtedly learn more about the genre’s greats, including Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and many more.
  • The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years | Hulu – Directed by Ron Howard, this award winning documentary explores the four years of touring by The Beatles from 1962 to 1966, before the band began devoting themselves to a studio career.
  • Stop Making Sense | Amazon Prime – Hailed as “one of the greatest rock movies ever made”, the 1984 concert film directed by Jonathan Demme features live performances from rock band Talking Heads as they promote their new album, Speaking in Tongues.
  • Hip-Hop Evolution | Netflix – Follow Juno award-winning artist Shad as he unveils the history of hip-hop from its earliest beginnings in 1970s New York City to the ways the artform has been shaped by regions across the country, including Houston’s very own The Geto Boys, UGK, and DJ Screw.
  • Shangri-LA | YouTube, Hulu (with Showtime subscription) – The four-part miniseries charts the rise of enigmatic music producer Rick Rubin, as well as insights on the legendary Los Angeles recording studio known as Shangri-La, which has produced some of music’s most popular albums by artists like Bob Dylan, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Metallica, and Kanye West, among many others.

Make Your Own Music

  • Fender Guitar Lessons – Start your three-month free trial and explore the guitar manufacturer’s repository of easy-to-follow guitar lessons, tablature of popular songs, and enjoy discounts on guitars and gear.
  • Incredibox – The addictive music making app includes a free trial to tinker with different sounds, riffs, beats and more with a super easy format that makes it an ideal way to pass time for kids. Throw clothes and accessories on each of your song’s characters, hear the music change, and discover what kinds of crazy mixes you can create.
  • JQBX – Link your Spotify account with JQBX (Jukebox) and host your own DJ party for friends and public groups with chat features. Craft your playlist and jam out, but keep an eye on what your crowd is feeling as they offer feedback on the songs you spin.

How to Help Musicians

As the Coronavirus situation continues, many musicians and music industry workers are left in an uncertain state, hurting from the sudden loss of touring income, sales, and release disruptions. Here are some ways you can help out your favorite musicians:

  • Stream, Follow & Share – While streaming income doesn’t make up a huge amount of a band’s revenue, it’s the easiest way to tune in and help out while you do other things at home. More than that, follow your favorite musician’s accounts to keep tabs on livestreaming concerts and other ways you can help support them during a difficult time. Don’t forget to share them with your friends, as word of mouth is a powerful tool for musicians to expand their following.
  • Bandcamp & Websites – Better yet, swing by your favorite artist’s Bandcamp page, where you can purchase their music and merch. If they have their own distribution set up through their website, then try there so you can directly support them financially. Or, just ask if they have a Venmo, PayPal, or other cash app that you can donate to at this time.
  • Check out your local venue – While concerts are cancelled and postponed across the city, many venues are looking for ways to support their venue staff during these difficult times. Check out your favorite spot to see shows and find ways you can help, like with White Oak Music Hall, who are raising money to help support their staff and giving away prizes like lifetime tickets, gift cards and more.
  • Donate & Fundraise – Organizations across the country are gathering funds to help musicians and music industry workers with financial assistance that meets their most basic living needs. Check out places like Backline, Sweet Relief, Equal Sound, and view other donation opportunities (that can help restaurant industry workers, freelancers and others in need) by clicking here.
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A longtime Houstonian, Justin Jerkins keeps an eye out for all sorts of happenings in H-Town, including breweries, sports, concerts, must-see destinations and much more while serving as Editor-in-Chief of 365 Things to Do in Houston.