I have been called a music nerd long before I was a physical therapist. Many of my patients ask me about my life away from the clinic and helping patients with back pain. Seeing live music is always an answer! For me, the live music bug started a long time ago.
It was a hot and muggy night in New Orleans in 1985, and I was on my way to the Superdome with a few friends…
Prince came out and blew my pre-teen mind. That was it…I was hooked to live music, but more importantly, good live music. Next it was New Edition in Baton Rouge. Then Metallica and Guns n Roses got huge and were touring to sold out shows in the area.
The rap scene was taking over New Orleans and I was catching LL Cool J, Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Too Short, and so many more all over NOLA.
During the 90’s, the first 2 lollapalooza bridged the rap and alternative grunge worlds for me.
I was introduced to Nine Inch Nails after a set by Ice T. Violent Femmes, Fishbone, Living Colour and Janes Addiction were really fun from the first year, 1991. The next year was even better… Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ice Cube, Soundgarden, Rage, Tool, Cypress Hill, House of Pain and so many more that I can’t recall.
Then the grunge sound took over through the college and physical therapy school years.
Living in NOLA for PT school was amazing for live music. The funky Meters, Dr John, Fats Domino and Ray Charles were the highlights from Jazz Fest. The big easy has its own musical style and it also attracts national bands.
I was able to see George Clinton and P Funk, G Love, Widespread Panic, Pink Floyd, U2 and many, many more. It was a great time to see live music. My favorite venues: Tipitina’s, House of Blues, and any stage on Jazz Fest.
Then the move to LA and yeah, live music is pretty huge there as well. However, LA had those huge acts and those names that many do not know stop in to play The Hollywood Bowl, The Greek and my favorite, The Wiltern.
I saw ton’s of great shows at those venues, from Ben Harper to Dr John at the Hollywood Bowl. Trey Anastasio Band, The Allman Brothers, The Cranberries and Rusted Root put on an incredible shows at the Greek and Widespread Panic and String Cheese Incident shook the top floor of the Wiltern, literally!
Next was the move across country to the Live Music Capitol of the World, Austin, Texas… And all of that to lead up to the top 3 music venues in Austin , from a music nerds perspective.
Top 3 Music Venues in Austin, Texas
A slanted outdoor amphitheater in downtown Austin, Stubb’s can be a back killer. Yes, the physical therapist comes out in me when I think of standing or dancing on a slanted ground for a concert. Get there early and get a spot next to the soundboard on the wooden deck.
There is also level ground in the VIP area in the back of the venue. The Black Pumas, My Morning Jacket, Monsters of Folk, Robert Earl Keen, Ryan Bingham and Korn are some of the acts that I have seen at Stubb’s.
#2 The Paramount Theatre
It is like stepping back in time with the old school, ornate vibe of the Paramount on Congress Street. The seats are small and leg room is limited for those over 6 feet tall. My first show was Iron & Wine for a fundraiser for midwives.
Sam Beam and an acoustic guitar was an incredible introduction to the amazing sound The Paramount delivers. I was lucky enough to catch his fundraiser 3-4 times and I went from the last row the first show (buying ticket last minute) to the front few rows for every future show.
Gary Clark Jr. played a solo show that was absolutely incredible. Dr John, The John Butler Trio, John McLaughlin & Jimmy Herring, Delbert McClinton, and Sheryl Crow all put on great shows over the years.
#1 ACL Live, The Moody Theatre
From my first show watching Willie Nelson on opening night to The Trey Anastasio Band as my last pre-Covid show, ACL Live does not disappoint. It is new and modern and the complete opposite vibe of The Paramount.
The sound is great and every seat in the house is fairly close to the stage. I love to catch a show from the Mezzanine level. Highlights at The Moody include Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, The Waylon Jennings Tribute, Chris Stapleton, Bob Weir, Lyle Lovett, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and Mark Knopfler to name a few.
If you get a chance to catch a taping for PBS - ACL live, do it!. The tapings that I’ve seen include Ben Harper, Jim James, Widespread Panic, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Grupo Fantasma, Steve Earl, Jack White and Patty Griffin.
And there you have it… My top 3 Music Venue’s in Austin, Texas