This guest post is by Edgar Barguiarena.
Austin has Wednesday figured out. Instead of being driven indoors during 100+ degree weather in the thick of summer, we flock towards the siren call of free, live outdoor events.
Fortunately, we’re blessed with a multitude of public parks and outdoor event centers that facilitate this addiction. KGSR has spoiled us over the last 23 years with their Blues on the Green series featuring live music at Zilker park, with the majestic Austin skyline as a backdrop, every other Wednesday over the summer. Alamo Drafthouse has us covered with Rolling Roadshow, featuring classic movies at a unique Austin locale, shown on a huge inflatable screen with top-of-the-line sound system. Even the venerable Austin Symphony has jumped in, showcasing their free “Concerts in the Park” series at the Long Center on Sunday nights over the last 11 years.
Most world-class cities would be fortunate to have even a few of these options. But Austin and Austinites don’t stop there. I mean, what are we supposed to do on the Wednesdays that Blues on the Green isn’t running? What other outdoor events are out there?
Sound & Cinema
Enter The Alamo Drafthouse and Do512. We love live music, and we love watching classic films at the Alamo. What if someone were to combine the two? Thusly, the Sound & Cinema showcase was born.
The idea is to choose a classic film with a recognizable theme, then pair it with a live band that complements said theme. And because this is Austin, why not throw in a few food trucks for good measure?
The Alamo has featured “Movies in the Park” at Republic Square park before, so they needed to up the ante for this event. Perhaps taking a cue from what the Austinot labeled “one of the best views of the Austin skyline,” The Long Center was chosen as the venue for Sound & Cinema.
Maybe it was the extra cozy blanket that my friend brought along for the first show, but I honestly couldn’t think of a better place to feature an outdoor movie series. To me, it felt like lounging in my backyard, watching a movie with a few hundred of my closest friends (and their dogs).
My Experience: Labyrinth Showing
In what can only be described as a curious first choice, Alamo decided to screen Labyrinth to kick-off Sound & Cinema. Why? David Bowie. Despite the reckless use of a leotard, Bowie actually puts forth a memorable performance as Jareth, the Goblin King.
Naturally, they had to go with a David Bowie cover band to complement the movie. Billed as “Austin’s best David Bowie tribute band” (is there really more than one?), Super Creeps kicked off the showcase around 8 PM to an already filled front lawn at the Long Center. Super Creeps has been gracing Austin with the silky smooth sound of David Bowie since 2011. I wouldn’t say that I’m a huge Bowie fan, but the group put in a great, over-the-top glam rock performance that one would expect from The Goblin King himself.
With summer fast approaching, we were blessed with an abnormally cool evening. Just the right temp to enjoy a cheesy 80’s movie under the stars. Once Super Creeps finished their set and the sun was sufficiently behind us, the movie began.
An important thing to note: it was crowded, very crowded. You’re going to want to arrive to this one early, folks. Fortunately, my aforementioned friend got there in time to secure a good spot just to the right of the screen.
The only hiccup of the evening came with the audio setup. Even as close as we were, it was difficult to hear the movie. Hopefully this gets addressed before the next show.
How to Enjoy the Show
As I mentioned, you’ll want to get here early. The food trucks open up shop at 7 PM and the music starts at 8. But if you want to secure a good spot near the front, you’ll want to arrive closer to 6 or 6:30. The first show got so crowded that people spilled onto the terrace itself, making navigating through the crowds a bit difficult. But this is Austin. We’ve been conditioned to walk around people and blankets, and we don’t bat an eye if a stranger steps on our stuff.
Once you’re situated, you can hop over to the Terrace, where you can enjoy food truck offerings from Frank, Blue Ox BBQ, and Whole Foods. You ARE allowed to bring your own food, as well as a cooler full of non-alcoholic beverages, so picnicking is encouraged. The Long Center also has a stand that sells beer, wine, and cocktails.
Lawn chairs are allowed, but laying down on a blanket is the way to go. The slightly downward sloping hill at the Long Center lends itself well to laying back and watching a movie.
Prepare for a long night. With the sun setting around 9 PM, you won’t be done until 10:30 or 11 PM, depending on how long the movie is.
As an Austinot reader, this type of event should be right up your alley. It combines everything we love about Austin. Thinking back to my first event, I recall laying back with my hands behind my head, looking up at the stars with the magnificent Austin skyline as a backdrop, cool breeze flowing, thinking just how lucky we are to live in such an amazing city.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Do you plan to check out Sound & Cinema this summer?
Photos courtesy of Do512 and David Weaver.