By Bradley Barnes
Plato once said, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.” When a problem arises, it takes creative thinking to solve it, and some of the greatest innovations have come during some of the direst of situations.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full-swing, I would say we’re certainly living in some dire times. South By Southwest, Levitation Fest, and Austin City Limits Festival all had to cancel in-person activities, which have greatly impacted the Austin live music scene, bands and venues alike.
Not only have the fans and bands lost the opportunity to interact with each other, but local businesses and venues have lost out on a lot of revenue, which has, unfortunately, resulted in a number of these venues and businesses shuttering their doors permanently.
“We already know all of this, why are you bumming us out,” you ask? Well, that’s where the innovation comes in. The restrictions on venues and pretty much ANY public gathering has forced bands and venues to become creative on how they entertain their fans.
Austin, in particular, has been called “The Live Music Capitol,” and bands, festivals and venues alike, have all looked to streaming as a way to keep the music going.
Here are just a few examples:
Safehouse ATX: Established in 2016, Safehouse ATX has produced interactive, live-stream performances with a multitude of local Austin artists: ranging from soul, metal, blues, punk and so on.
Bands get to play several songs for an online audience (for a suggested donation of $7) and do interviews and Q+A sessions as well.
While the tentative schedule is weekly, due to the pandemic, things are a little more sporadic, but there are upcoming scheduled streams, and more to follow.
This is a great way to interact with some of your favorite local artists. The Safehouse YouTube page also has an archive of past performances from artists like Fuss Ricket, Henry + The Invisibles, and Bright Light Social Hour.
Kick Butt Coffee: Tucked away on Airport Boulevard resides one of the music scene’s best-kept secrets, Kick Butt Coffee.
In addition to booking touring and local acts such as Sabbath Crow and Brewtality Inc, Kick Butt Coffee also has a weekly open-mic night which features musicians, poetry readings, and all sorts of other interesting performances.
Viewers can watch through Skype, but there is also an ongoing live stream on the venue’s website.
Recently, there have been many live-streamed fundraising concerts as well, so keep an eye on the event calendar for those.
Hole In The Wall: Though the venue itself may be closed, the famous Hole In The Wall has been hosting some streamed performances on Facebook called “Hole In The Wall Happy Hour at Home Livestream.”
There are links to donate to the staff, who have all been unable to work since the restrictions on bars and venues have been put in place.
Hole In The Wall has been around since 1974 and has been the site for some pretty famous moments in Austin music history, including an impromptu jam session from the late Stevie Ray Vaughn.
The Lost Well: If your tastes tend to be on the heavier side of things, Austin’s punk rock/biker haven, The Lost Well, might have what you’re looking for.
An ongoing live-stream series called “Rock For Rent” has been bringing some of the area’s best heavy acts right to your screen.
Bands like Duel, Eagle Claw and Greenbeard have taken turns performing at the Come And Track It Studio with each performance streaming live on The Lost Well’s YouTube channel.
There is a virtual tip jar, where you can donate to keep The Lost Well’s doors open, and can also tip the bands. Past performances are all up on the YouTube channel, and there are more to come!
None of these streams require any financial commitment, you can just tune in and watch some free live music. The option to donate to the artists and venues is also there, of course. Even amidst this pandemic, though, it’s clear that live music will survive, one way or another.
Featured image by Bradley Barnes.