Black Pumas’ Unparalleled Four-Show Stubb’s Booking

Three consecutive sold-out shows tacked on another date and catapulted an already unprecedented local success story into another realm altogether


Black Pumas' Austin City Limits taping in August 2019 (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Last week, the Black Pumas added a fourth consecutive show to their May stand at Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheater. Based on how quickly the first three sold out last year and how fast the newly announced performance is selling, the homegrown psychedelic soul phenoms could've likely racked up even one more.

"I personally think there's five all day long, but at some point we have to stop and we're going to stop at four," acknowledges the group's manager, Ryan Matteson. "Five would be a lot on the performers."

Matteson says team Pumas is looking at over 9,000 tickets sold for the whole affair, which now merits a booking at the only venue on Red River Street larger than Stubb's.

"We're holding the Frank Erwin Center for next year and looking at [Circuit of the Americas], too," reveals the president of Ten Atoms, a firm he launched in 2018 after seven years working for C3 Presents.

The momentous spring residency constitutes a live local landmark. Since the 2,300-capacity concert hub opened in 1996, no one – local or otherwise – has played four straight nights there. That raises the question, has any Austin act ever shot out of a cannon to the extent of the Pumas, who played their first show less than two years ago?

Residents of Austin in the early Nineties might recall the Arc Angels demonstrating a similarly meteoric crossover success shortly after forming. Gary Clark Jr. also enjoyed a spectacular rise after appearing at the 2010 Eric Clapton Crossroads Festival in Chicago, but he'd already been gigging around town for a decade. Other acts capable of moving 9,000 local tickets – Spoon, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the Butthole Surfers when "Pepper" topped charts – all took a longer path to accumulate that draw.

Of course, the Grammy nomination helped. The septet, led by vocalist Eric Burton and producer Adrian Quesada, were in attendance at the Staples Center on Sunday to witness an all-around-dominant Billie Eilish snatch Best New Artist honors. Nevertheless, the Pumas' burgeoning popularity comes as a result of dishing a legit anthem. The Burton-penned unity song "Colors" has tapped into America's pop culture zeitgeist with 25 million streams and a current Top 5 position on adult album alternative-format radio. The song is so profoundly optimistic, it even made Bank of America feel human in a recent commercial spot.

"At this point, we could take the microphone away from Eric on that song and the crowd will sing the whole thing," says Matteson. "It just happened at the Kessler in Dallas. It was an amazing experience. He was able to just walk offstage and let the crowd carry it."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Black Pumas, Eric Burton, Adrian Quesada, Ryan Matteson, Ten Atoms, Stubb's, C3 Presents, Gary Clark Jr., Spoon, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Butthole Surfers, Arc Angels, Colors, Waller Creek Amphitheater

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