Miscellaneous ranting about the Austin music scene ...

What people who are new to the Austin music scene don't understand is how inexpensive it is to go hear live music here. Partly this is due to an oversupply of players versus live audience. Austin has long been known as a "musician-friendly" town. It has, until recently, been an inexpensive place to live, where there was a tolerance for a whole group of people who wanted to live their professional lives away from the fast lane. (I believe their term for it would be "rat race".) Also, once it got a reputation as a live music town, the town tended to attract more musicians who were looking for a place to live and/or try to "make it" in the music business.

So these days in Austin it's possible to see live music 7 days a week, for (as far as I know) the entire year. (Not that I imagine attendance at any Christmas gigs was high.)

This has several side effects on long-time residents. First, since they can go see live music "anytime", they tend not to consider it a special treat, and thus get into the "we could do that any time" mold. This is the same phenomenon as growing up in Philadelphia and "never getting around" to seeing the Liberty Bell -- but you can be sure every visitor to town wants to do exactly that, and is puzzled by why the locals haven't yet been.

However, consider the fact that the "getting around to" time is measured in seasons, and the median band life is sometimes measured in weeks :-), and you can see the problem with this approach. Hey, these guys need to make a living in between your "around to it" times ...

The second effect is on ticket prices, partly due to the obvious supply and demand forces. But further, when someone tries to charge something that would be recognized in many other major cities as the market price ($10? $15?), people here tend to say, "Well, gee, I could go see John Dee Graham [link] at the Continental for $5, who are these guys to think they're worth $15?" While the comparison is valid, it's only because we're so spoiled in Austin that we take these $5 gigs for granted. (And, by the way, seeing John Dee for $5 is indeed one of the best deals in town.)

But people new to town probably expect those cover charges to be $15 and all the clubs to be packed. 'Tain't necessarily so. I've seen many of the local acts, and not a few touring acts, play to nearly empty rooms. For at least the type of music I listen to, it's very rarely crowded at concerts.

Which leads to another problem -- the seating dilemma. Many clubs opt for little or no seating during concerts -- figuring that if people are standing, you can get more of them into the fixed size space. Now, when I was in my 20s I could take standing up all night long, but these days the act has to really be something special for me to want to stay on my feet more than an hour or two.

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Last updated Wed Jul 25 21:36:55 GMT 2001 .