Austin’s pop scene is broad and includes a multitude of various influences. Local pop music reflects the city’s love of crossing the boundaries of different genres and creating a wonderful and playful fusion of sounds. Whether it’s just plain rock ‘n’ roll or endearing self-prescribed labels such as “art vomit” (if that sounds like your thing, check out local fusion band HYAH!), the city has become known for its fusion of music genres that make it so distinctly Austin.
The overall genre of pop has relatively remained the genre of the youth and was birthed in the mid 1950s. In Austin during that time, venues such as the Sportscenter and Skyline Lounge invited esteemed guests of budding fame such as Elvis Presley.
When Sportscenter was replaced with the much more well-known Armadillo World Headquarters in 1970, it became home to even more of Austin’s greatest talents. The ‘Dillo and its successor Threadgill’s had a huge influence on forming Austin’s unique brand of what would eventually become pop. It was here where local artists like Janis Joplin eventually became household names and where local bands began to play outside the boundaries of their respective genres. The resulting fusion between psychedelic rock and country music created the lovable “cosmic cowboy” identity that Austin is associated with today.
Thus, with Austin artists beginning to merge genres and color outside of the lines, Austin’s own brand of “pop” music began to take shape. In the 1970s and ‘80s, Joe “King” Carrasco, the inventor of “Tex-Mex rock ‘n’ roll” was one of the first pioneers of the pop scene in the city. He combined “Nuevo Wavo” rock with Latin rhythms and created a fusion of Latin-esque psychedelic synth and rock ‘n’ roll. Carrasco saw a lot of success from his single “Party Weekend.” Following that release, he was interviewed in Rolling Stone Magazine, featured on MTV, and performed on Saturday Night Live.
Of course, despite Carrasco and because of the local DIY counterculture that naturally rejected popular culture, Austin has always majorly been a city of bootstrapped independent musicians drawn to more rock and blues-heavy sounds. Famously, very early in her career before she became an Austin staple, the multi-talented Ruthie Foster rejected a record deal with Atlantic Records. The label wanted to cultivate her talents to drive her in a pop-oriented direction, but she refused and instead was determined to maintain the integrity of the American roots music that influenced her childhood.
Despite this rejection of pop culture, Austin has never been able to successfully escape it, building cultural institutions like Austin City Limits. Over the span of 900+ episodes, the television show became a fixture of American culture and the longest-running music program in the nation, earning it an induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For the first 36 seasons, the show was hosted out of Studio 6A of the Communications Building at the University of Texas. Years later, it found a home in its new downtown location on a street now named Willie Nelson Boulevard, inspired by the local outlaw country pioneer who performed on the show’s pilot episode and whose statue now sits in front of the Moody Theater. Today, the venue serves as the current home of ACL Live, and brings in some of Austin’s biggest pop stars.
In the late ‘80s and through the ‘90s, Austin music evolved and rear-ended the archaic counterculture rejection of pop. Bands like Fastball, Spoon, Blue October, and Timbuk3 put Austin on the map and themselves on the Billboard charts with their special brand of alternative rock/pop music. Carlos Sosa’s Grooveline Horns section began touring and recording with Bob Schneider’s group Ugly Americans and later, national acts such as Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson, Jason Mraz, and Zac Brown Band. In the 2000s, Los Lonely Boys put a cherry on top with their hit debut single “Heaven” which landed the band a Grammy nomination for “Best New Artist” in 2005 (losing to Maroon 5) and a win for the category of “Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.”
In 2002, pop music in Austin peaked in the advent of Austin City Limits Festival, named after the popular music program that reached international syndication. The longstanding flagship festival remains one of Austin’s biggest annual attractions. The event features both local and national acts. In its inaugural year, the festival presented a multitude of local musicians who performed across a number of different genres such as the now-legendary but then-teenage Gary Clark Jr. Year after year, the festival began to book more pop acts and Austin’s cross-genre pop sound aesthetic began to further develop. Now, each year, hundreds of thousands of music fans pilgrim to Austin’s Zilker Park to see some of the nation and city’s biggest pop artists perform.
If you’re looking for a historic spot where you can grab cheap drinks, look no further than Hole in the Wall. Whether you want to prove your talents at karaoke, or leave the singing to the band, Hole in the Wall is an Austin staple. This legendary spot located at the heart of West Campus on the Drag may look unassuming but since opening in the mid-70s, it has been the common denominator in many nearly folkloric celebrity sightings: Natalie Portman playing a real-life pool shark; Quentin Tarantino heckling a band onstage; John Stamos inconspicuously showing off his skills on the drum set at a Sunday night jam. Not to mention, hometown heroes such as Gary Clark Jr., Spoon, Shakey Graves, and Black Joe Lewis have all cut their teeth at Hole in the Wall before graduating to much more prestigious stages nationwide.
Lastly, as an apparent display of how weird Austin can really get, Cheer Up Charlies is not only Red River’s most poppin’ adult playground with two stages, fresh cocktails, and a breezy patio, but it provides a stage for indie/pop bands at professional level and a dance floor for events like Neon Rainbows 90s Country Night where country meets queer. Get your two-steppin’ on and your rainbow cowboy hats ready.
Aside from those mentioned above, check out some of the city’s most popular pop artists such as the multi-talented one-man band Mobley, smooth crooner Molly Burch, indie pop giants Wild Child, it’s sister project Sir Woman, local supergroup Sweet Spirit, pop-rocker Ben Kweller, and nominees of the Grammy category for “Best New Artist” in 2020 Black Pumas. Not to mention, the city is home to local emerging artists such as Missio, Max Frost, and Night Glitter.
Contributed by Nathalie Phan.
For me, the lifeblood of Austin is the food, the art, and the sense of collectivism I feel in my neighborhood and others like it. As a musician and writer, these places offer such rich soil for cultivating and sharing ideas — it’s an honor to be a part of them.
Taylor Swift tickets breakdown probed by attorneys general
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The breakdown in Ticketmaster’s sales of Taylor Swift tickets is a mess some attorneys general aren’t shaking off.
With fans sharing outrage and heartache over the fruitless hours they spent trying for seats for Swift’s upcoming concert tour, top legal chiefs in Nevada, Tennessee and Pennsylvania have launched investigations into the fiasco.
“Trouble, trouble, trouble,” tweeted Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro in a reference to Swift’s 2012 hit song ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ as he asked the public to file complaints about using Ticketmaster with his office.
Shapiro, a Democrat who recently won Pennsylvania’s governor race, has since thanked people for their “swift response” while noting his office had received “a lot of complaints” to look into.
Over in Tennessee, Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said he wants to ensure consumers have a fair shot at buying tickets.
“There are no allegations at this time of any misconduct, but as the attorney general it’s my job to ensure that the consumer protection laws and antitrust laws in Tennessee are being honored,” Skrmetti told reporters.
In 2008, Tennessee enacted a so-called “anti-bot” law that prohibits using certain computer programs to buy large amounts of tickets to concerts and sporting events. However, like most states that have passed similar bans, the law has rarely been enforced.
Meanwhile, in Nevada, the attorney general’s office said it was investigating Ticketmaster for “alleged deceptive or unfair trade practices.”
The trouble began when registered fans given codes for a pre-sale on Tuesday tried to secure tickets for Swift’s 52-date The Eras tour next year. They were quickly met with long delays and error messages that Ticketmaster blamed on bots and historically unprecedented demand. The company then canceled Friday’s sales to the general public.
Swift vented anger and frustration in a lengthy statement, saying she had been assured by Ticketmaster that they could handle the demand.
“It’s really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties, and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse,” Swift said.
Ticketmaster said more than 2 million tickets were sold despite the troubles, setting a new single-day record for artists on the platform, and that only 15% of would-be buyers had issues with the process.
“We want to apologize to Taylor and all of her fans – especially those who had a terrible experience trying to purchase tickets,” the company said.
Multiple lawmakers have accused Ticketmaster of abusing its power as the dominant ticket-seller for consumers.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, wrote an open letter to Ticketmaster’s President and CEO Michael Rapino, saying that she’s been skeptical of his company ever since they merged with LiveNation in 2011. Her letter included several questions about Ticketmaster’s business practices that she asked Rapino answer by next week.
Asked about reports that the Justice Department would investigate Live Nation, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment on specifics, but said President Joe Biden has worked to increase competition and limit the power of large corporations, believing that a “lack of competition leads to higher prices, and worse service.”
Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani contributed to this report from Washington D.C.
Adidas ends partnership with Ye
LONDON (AP) — Adidas has ended its partnership with the rapper formerly known as Kanye West over things he has said the company does not agree with.
“Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of [speech we hate]…” the company said in a statement Tuesday. “Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”
The company faced pressure to cut ties with Ye, with celebrities and others on social media urging Adidas to act. It said at the beginning of the month that it was placing its lucrative sneaker deal with the rapper under review.
Adidas said Tuesday that it conducted a “thorough review” and would immediately stop production of its line of Yeezy products and stop payments to Ye and his companies. The sportswear company said it was expected to take a hit of up to 250 million euros ($246 million) to its net income this year from the move.
The move by Adidas, whose CEO Kasper Rorsted is stepping down next year, comes after Ye was suspended from Twitter and Instagram this month over antisemitic posts that the social networks said violated their policies.
He recently suggested slavery was a choice and called the COVID-19 vaccine the “mark of the beast,” among other comments. He also was criticized for wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt to his Yeezy collection show in Paris.
Ye’s talent agency, CAA, has dropped him, and the MRC studio announced Monday that it is shelving a complete documentary about the rapper.
The Balenciaga fashion house cut ties with Ye last week, according to Women’s Wear Daily. JPMorganChase and Ye have ended their business relationship, although the banking breakup was in the works even before Ye’s antisemitic comments.
In recent weeks, Ye also has ended his company’s association with Gap and has told Bloomberg that he plans to cut ties with his corporate suppliers.
After he was suspended from Twitter and Facebook, Ye offered to buy conservative social network Parler.
Demonstrators on a Los Angeles overpass Saturday unfurled a banner praising Ye’s antisemitic comments, prompting an outcry on social media from celebrities and others who said they stand with Jewish people.
In Germany, where Adidas is headquartered, the head of the country’s main Jewish group welcomed the company’s decision but said the “step was overdue.”
“I would have liked a clear stance earlier from a German company that also was entangled with the Nazi regime,” Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in a statement. “Adidas has done a lot to distance itself from its past and, like many sports brands, is one of those companies that conduct big campaigns against antisemitism and racism. That’s why an earlier separation from Kanye West would have been appropriate.”
Austin City Limits 2022 “No Bags” Entrace Line Was Terrible This Year
Austin City Limits concluded it’s 2-week long music festival this past Sunday, with mega-headliners such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Paramore.
One of the top complaints received this year was how bad the entrance lines were, especially the “No Bag” lines which is intended to help speed up patrons that do not carry any backpacks that need a longer inspection.
At the North entrance for ACL 2022, security was half-way decent keeping people WITH bags out of the No Bag line. Albeit it’s the main entrance, it did help speed up the hundreds-of-feet long line that could take up to nearly 45 minutes.
Patrons claim the security guards for the North entrance were directing people over to the West and East entrances claiming they were faster. When most patrons who heard that did go over to the East and West entrances, they were greeted by a line half the size (still hundreds of people funneling into 10-20 metal detectors) – the security was by far worse, and the staff was not checking the lines letting people WITH bags into the No Bag line.
Why is this such a huge complaint we’ve received?
Attendees were not only baking in the hot sun with no shade and temperatures raising up to 95F – there were almost zero fans to help keep cool, and the lines took DOUBLE the amount of time as the original longer North entrance line.
Why would ACL 2022 allow such poor optimization of these lines? Nobody really knows.
The 2nd most ferried complaint we’ve uncovered was rumored very rude bartenders at the T-Mobile Lounge for Austin City Limits 2022. Some attendees mentioned having been standing in line, some of the bartenders would call on people behind them instead for whatever bias those bartenders had.
That’s about all the Austin City Limits 2022 gossip we have for now, and we hope everyone enjoyed the music, food, and fun.