Off the Record
Knockin' on Heaven's Door
"God's in there," a secretary jokingly prefaces the entrance to Charles Attal's fourth-floor office beside the Four Seasons. In heaven, crates of records line the floors, while framed photos with the Rolling Stones, Coldplay, and Ween accent the walls along with an equally illustrious Bill Graham Promoter of the Year award. One week before the sixth annual Austin City Limits Music Festival, the renowned local promoter appears unexpectedly calm and collected behind his executive desk. His C3 Presents partner, Charlie Walker, onetime president of promotions behemoth Live Nation's North American division, rocks back and forth on one of four skateboards in the room. C3, which now books Emo's, Dallas' House of Blues, and Harrah's casinos and debuts the Big State Festival, headlined by Tim McGraw and Willie Nelson in October in College Station, has mastered its festival formula in recent years and helped transform the touring industry in the process.
Off the Record: How does booking Lollapalooza influence your decisions regarding the ACL Festival?
Charles Attal: Not at all.
OTR: How is that possible?
CA: It's what's available. Period. Lollapalooza and ACL could have turned out totally different if a few didn't work out. Last year, it was down to the wire on a couple of acts. Van Morrison came in two days before I was supposed to announce the lineup. That's a big name to drop on your festival, and if it hadn't come in, it would have changed the whole vibe of the top-tier bands.
Charlie Walker: A lot of people get upset about some of the matchups, but that's just what happens. It's a massive jigsaw puzzle.
CA: Sometimes it all fits together perfectly; sometimes you've got to cut the ends off to make it all work out. LCD Soundsystem and M.I.A.? That's a bit of a problem for me, but the park is both big enough and small enough to where you can catch a bit of both by walking a bit.
The interview pauses to indulge in Daft Punk videos from Lollapalooza.
OTR: Would you agree that there's a large gap in the festival circuit that would allow for smaller festivals like Fun Fun Fun Fest or Fort Worth's Wall of Sound to really thrive?
CA: We're actually going to launch an indie festival next year. It's going to be a real cheap ticket and multiple stages. And it's going to be here in Austin. We're already working on that and booking it.