Monday, April 13, 2015

Austin City Limits Taping - The War on Drugs

Remember recently when I won passes to an Austin City Limits taping for Sturgill Simpson?  I was so impressed by the venue, I knew I had to go back as soon as possible.  Luckily, they had another awesome band, The War on Drugs, on the schedule.  This is another band Mike enjoys, and since he had to miss the last amazing show, I told him I'd wait in line to try to get us "space available" tickets. 

I headed the two blocks over from my work after I had finished for the day.  There was only one person in line.  Score!  I sat down on the sidewalk like a vagrant and claimed my spot.  I kept busy with reading and cell-phone-mongering until Mike made it in to downtown.  He arrived bearing the gifts of dinner and a change of clothes.  Bragging moment:  hubby remembered to bring socks for my boots and a camisole.  He rocks.  I scooted back to work to change and then scarfed down my not-so-great sandwich. 

We still had a while to wait, but people watching helped to pass the time.  Austin has lots of individuals who love to experiment with style.  That's my nice way of saying that I had a good laugh at the outfits that walked by :) 

After waiting over three hours, the bundles of wristbands came around the corner.  We were at the head of the line and were so excited to be let right in!  A volunteer snagged us some spots on the side of the stage.  We could see everything that was going on and it was great!  Unfortunately, they don't allow any pictures during the show, so I only have some set pictures.

The War on Drugs were fantastic.  A six person band is a feat, and they managed to rock.  Plus, I'm always a fan when there is a little something extra, like some brass or strings.  So much talent.  I so glad we got to see them finally!  This band is quite the group.  I just love seeing what people wear to perform in, and how ridiculous their moves get sometimes.

And for a funny - I've deciphered that bassists don't know what to do with their legs, and drummers don't know what to do with their faces.   Oh, live music.  I love it! 

As for the venue, I cannot stress enough how amazing it is.  Try to catch a show if you're in Austin.  In fact, I've just taken in three shows in a week.  Eek!  For the tapings, they keep it nice and cool and the lights are up a bit since they are filming.  It's also pretty quiet in there.  People don't get as rowdy because it's a taping (and for Sturgill Simpson, it was live streaming as well).  It's a bit different, but I won't complain! 

Just so you know, they have a medium sized floor space as well as a mezzanine and balcony.  You can see well from the seats anywhere, as the venue is pretty small.  I was in the balcony for Punch Brothers and the view was great.  Note that for shows that are not tapings, there will be no seats on the floor - it is all GA standing space.  I only wish they put the stage up a little higher so that the view from the floor was better.  For a shorty like me, standing room is hard! 

As for the rest of the venue, I only have good things to say.  They have a huge "music porch" area when you get in that has a bunch of space to hang around and relax before the show.  The bathrooms are large.  They have plenty of bars and they aren't super overpriced.  They have a little art show on the top floor with some amazing photography.  They have speakers outside of the main room so you can still hear everything that's going on when you take a drink or restroom break.  They have open staircases on the outside in case you need some fresh air.  The chairs are comfortable.  And thankfully, I haven't had to deal with lines too much! 

All in all, my experiences at ACL Live at the Moody Theater have been exceptional.  I would highly recommend this venue, and if there's someone you really want to see for a taping, it's worth the wait!  
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Monday, April 6, 2015

Austin City Limits - Sturgill Simpson Taping {and Live Stream)

Last Monday afternoon, after getting my last cousin off to the airport, I had the rest of the day to do whatever I pleased.  Mike was working in the home office and I was tinkering all over the house. 
While taking a break and working on some blog things, I checked my email, and noticed one from "April at KLRU".  I knew what it was and couldn't believe it.  I won passes to an Austin City Limits taping!  Yes, the show on PBS that's currently on its 41st season of being amazing.  The only way to get tickets is to win or to be a sponsor, so this is pretty rare.  Over 5,000 people entered and I WON!
I had entered because the guest on April 1st was Sturgill Simpson, an outlaw country/rock/bluegrass singer that Mike absolutely loves.  Of course, Mike had a business trip leaving the day before.  I felt horrible!  I knew I couldn't let this experience go to waste and was able to have a coworker come along for the fun.   
Sturgill Simpson
In case you're a lucky winner in the future, this is how it goes down... 

You can show up starting at 6:00 to pick up your two wristbands.  You get in the line based on your last name and present your ID for your passes.  Note that the passes are non-transferrable and cannot be sold.  We arrived a bit after 6:00 and only had to wait a few minutes.  Then you can leave or mingle in the bar area until the doors open for seating at 7:40. 

First, a line forms for the "ticket" holders and they let them in.  Then a line forms for the pass holders.  I would say we got in line around 7:00 and were very near the front of the line.  We were let inside around 8:00 and quickly found some seats in the front row.  There were a few seats open, but it was hard to find two seats together.  Once things get rolling, the volunteers are looking to fill single seats, so if you're willing, check with a volunteer. 

If you're interested in drinks, I would suggest getting one before you head inside.  Once everyone is in, things start quickly and you're in for one amazing hour of a fantastic performance.  They start as promptly as they can with an introduction and then they dive right in.  NO PHONES are allowed!  They want everyone to enjoy the show through their own eyes.  All others have to wait for it to air on television.  What a novel concept!

Sturgill Simpson was fantastic!  His voice was so strong and filled the room.  I couldn't believe how steady he was.  His lead guitarist was killing riffs every other song.  They were right on as far as the instruments went.  They had about three major jam sessions, too, and especially went wild during the encore. 

The only thing I was bummed about was the quiet crowd.  People were pretty static and weren't jamming out as much as I'm used to.  Even the people on the floor were simply standing there.  Since we were sitting, we did a lot of toe-tapping and head-nodding.  I thought for sure the seated crowd would stand and jam, but was disappointed when they didn't.  During the two song encore, I was standing alone in the front row.  I wanted to enjoy it!

All in all, this experience was very memorable.  I would say this show is in my top three along with Rush and Jim James.  The venue is unbeatable, Sturgill's voice was unbreakable, and the fact that they were filming and live-streaming made it extra exciting.  It usually takes them a few months to edit the show for PBS, but keep an eye out for me in the front row of Austin City Limits - Sturgill Simpson!
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