Faster Than Sound: Moody Amphitheater Rises Out of Waterloo Park
Delayed opening until spring, the Moody Amphitheater will be the biggest music venue in the Red River Cultural District
Onlookers can now view the expansive, geometric steel-beam roof of Waterloo Park's still-under-construction Moody Amphitheater from nearby streets. Capacity 5,000, the structure will act as the Red River Cultural District's largest concert venue. Due to COVID-19, the opening this fall now shifts to next spring.
Amphitheatre plans unveiled in 2017 thanks to a $15 million grant from the Moody Foundation. Then, in February, Waterloo Greenway Conservancy announced a partnership with leading local promoters C3 Presents and parent company Live Nation, which plans to produce up to 35 shows annually in the space under a nonexclusive agreement. The 11-acre park once hosted flagship indie fest Fun Fun Fun (2006-10) and Mess With Texas during SXSW.
"Subject to availability, music programming can be produced by local promoters other than C3," emails Conservancy CEO Peter Mullan. "Opportunities will be vetted by Waterloo Greenway to ensure they work with the overall calendar and are appropriate for the space.
"[The venue] will build upon the legacy of live music, festivals, and public art once hosted at Waterloo Park."
The Moody Amphitheater hides permanent green rooms, dressing rooms, and more production space underground in the adjacent hillside. During a virtual tour last month, Director of Planning and Design John Rigdon said this creative design will allow the park to open for normal public use the morning after a show. Concession stands can be sealed off, equipment whisked away, and the stage becomes a public seating area with stairs leading up to it.
"We've worked with our music partner, C3, to make sure that this is fitted out with all of the infrastructure to put on a large-scale show," said Rigdon. "We can raise up lights and screens and speakers and curtains and everything else. That said, we can also close all that off and have much smaller events."
Beyond music, the stage will also host wellness activities, film screenings, and other multidisciplinary performances. Another virtual tour takes place at 12:30pm today, Thursday, viewable later on Waterloo Greenway's YouTube.
Go Fever and Mayeux & Broussard Bandleaders Leave Austin
Pandemic will cause an exodus of Austin musicians no longer tethered to the city's entertainment economy. Two scene mainstays say goodbye this month: Acey Monaro of Go Fever heads home to Australia with husband/bandmate Ben Burdick, and Tate Mayeux of Mayeux & Broussard settles in Connecticut. Both artists plan to keep their Austin-launched projects running.
"The band is going to continue exactly as it has been for the last five months," explains lead singer Monaro. "We don't have to live in the same city anymore, [and] we've already been recording and writing in adjacent ZIP codes. We're going to Australia for as long as it takes to be safe in the States to pick up touring."
The couple delayed their preliminary drive to California to record a live set for the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, airing virtually Aug. 30.
In March, Monaro got laid off from her office job for a startup, and Burdick gave up rideshare driving and gigs with Star Parks and Otis Wilkins. They head to Newcastle, Australia, plotting an eventual stateside relocation to release a sophomore album recently completed at White Denim's studio Radio Milk. The band broke the news with a cover of Aussie pub song "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again" by the Angels.
"Many different people messaged me like, 'We're thinking about moving too,'" adds Monaro. "They all say the same thing: 'If it's more expensive to live here than it is somewhere where you can get ahead as a musician, like L.A. or New York, why would you stay in Austin?'"
Longtime local troubadour Mayeux now resides outside Texas for the first time in his life. He and girlfriend Liz Wood, who sold baked goods locally, took over a waterfront cafe in her hometown of Westbrook. The couple hope to reopen it and integrate live music.
Both worked at Long Play Lounge, which Mayeux helped launch as general manager.
"If I was still able to play, it would be a different story," says the Pflugerville native. "I helped open a bar last year and was still playing music full time. With the shutdown, I lost both of those. I didn't see it coming back for a while, and I'm not going to sit around twiddling my thumbs and wasting money on scratch-offs."
He hosted Tuesday night song swaps for years at Buzz Mill, Hard Luck Lounge, and Long Play, which will carry on at South Congress venue Sagebrush. He'll continue writing country songs with Brian Broussard, and plans to come back to Austin for gigs.
"I can't imagine any touring happening in the next year or so," he surmises. "So everyone should try and write and record as much music as they can. I'm excited to sit down and focus on that up there."
R.I.P. Sundance Records' Bobby Barnard
A linchpin of the Central Texas record scene, Bobby Barnard ran Sundance Records in San Marcos for over 30 years. He died from a stroke on Aug. 6 at the age of 67, soon after loading thousands of LPs into his van. His legacy lives on at Houston-based Sig's Lagoon and local store Groover's Paradise, both run by former employees.
Like at Sundance, which closed in 2012, colorful collages of memorabilia, newspaper clippings, and concert posters line the walls at Groover's. Barnard carefully placed the pictures ahead of the store's opening in 2015. Groover's owner Greg Ellis began working for Barnard as a student at Southwest Texas State.
"Sundance made a cultural hub for the college, but also for all the local teenagers, because none of the other surrounding towns had one," remembers Ellis. "San Marcos has always been off the beaten track as far as hipness goes, and Bobby made such an impact in that little town for so long."