Austin Music Hall (RIP)

208 Nueces Street
Austin, Texas 78701
(512) 651-5033
1994 – 2015

Written by: Robert Tomas Ellenberger

The Austin Music Hall wasted no time in booking headlining acts of national and international acclaim when it opened in 1994. It is the premier venue in Austin, where crowds mass to experience the electric shows of Bruce Springsteen, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Dave Matthews Band, and more, in a 23,000 square foot space. The venue is also host to the Austin Music Awards, and as of recent, the MTVU Woodie Awards, as part of SXSW.

The need and desire for a venue of this caliber grew out of the growing music scene and shifting demographic in Austin. As the 1980s gave way to the 1990s, a lot had changed within the scene. 6th Street and Red River remained firmly established in the downtown music district and hosted an eclectic array of small venues, shops and eateries, while other popular clubs south of the river, and north of downtown survived and even thrived. The push soon came to occupy and exploit the ever-growing popularity of the Warehouse District on the southwestern edge of downtown.

1993 – 1994 would prove to be important years for the Austin music scene and for Tim O’Connor, an established music promoter and club owner. He had two previous venues to his credit, Castle Creek and The Texas Opera House, which he co-owned with Willie Nelson before purchasing it outright. In 1993, Tim had two deals in the works that were quite the opposite of each other in style, but would prove to be very good for the Austin music community: he purchased 14 acres west of the city, that paved the way for what would become the Hill Country’s premiere outdoor venue, The Backyard, and also closed a deal to secure a prime corner of real estate at 208 Nueces, on the edge of the burgeoning Warehouse District. His vision for the Nueces property was to create a more upscale venue, large enough to attract national and international acts, which soon became a reality and Austin Music Hall was born.

In 2007, Austin Music Hall went through an ambitious upgrade, featuring a new contemporary facade, and enlarging its footprint to its current size, increasing the general admission capacity. In addition, the venue began offering premium seating to VIP season ticket holders in the Tower Club, complete with a private outdoor terrace, restrooms, a bar, and cocktail service. The venue continues to attract top-level talent of various genres such as, the Flaming Lips, Tiesto, the Goo Goo Dolls, Pitbull, the Pixies, Sarah McLachlan, the Deftones, Girl Talk, Cake, Deadmau5, Empire Of The Sun, and many others. It is also well suited for upscale and private events, and often books and organizes events and fundraisers that have helped to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for non-profit organizations.

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