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April 17, 2024

How are global and local changes impacting the Austin Music Scene?

By: Elizabeth McQueen

How is climate change impacting Austin’s Music Scene? What about skyrocketing ticket prices? Or changes in AI and tech? How are new laws in Texas affecting women and LGBTQIA+ people in the music ecosystem? These are some of the questions that hosts Miles Bloxson and Elizabeth McQueen will explore in Season 5 of Pause/Play. In the first episode, they look at how COVID has shifted some people’s relationship with live music, plus they give you a season overview.

In this episode you’ll hear from neuropsychotherapist Bella Rockman, Lawrence Boone from the Far Out Lounge and Stage, Meteorologist David Yeomans, Jammy Violet from Pelvis Wrestly, Austin musician Caleb de Caspar, Adrienne Lake from Daydream Believer Austin and Frontgate Tickets founder Mellie Price.

The full transcript of this episode of Pause/Play is available on the KUT & KUTX Studio website. The transcript is also available as subtitles or captions on some podcast apps.

Elizabeth McQueen I’m Elizabeth McQueen.

Miles Bloxson And I’m Miles Bloxson.

Elizabeth McQueen And this is season five of Pause Play.

Miles Bloxson A podcast about live music, why it matters, and what comes next.

Elizabeth McQueen This season is all about change.

Miles Bloxson As humans, change is sometimes a force. We tend to fight and sometimes we battle with it. But some changes are out of our control.

Elizabeth McQueen When we started reflecting on what to cover this season, we put out a call to all our listeners on Instagram and we asked them what changes they thought affected the Austin music scene the most. And boy, did you guys share it all.

Miles Bloxson I mean, they shared all of it. You guys suggested that we talk about affordability in Austin and also climate change.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah, we had that super intense summer miles.

Miles Bloxson Yeah. You brought up laws that have been put in place, ticket prices and all of the service and processing fees.

Elizabeth McQueen And not to mention changes in tech and AI. Plus, y’all brought up the fact that some of us are still dealing with issues we bypassed during the pandemic.

Miles Bloxson You know, we started this whole podcast about how Covid impacted the Austin music scene. And honestly, I feel like it’s still impacting us.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah. Me too. I mean, some of us are still scared to go outside, let alone to live music shows.

Speaker 3 I’ve talked to a few people about the social anxiety that came from the whole process of Covid.

Elizabeth McQueen This is Laurence Boone, the booker at the Far Out Lounge.

Speaker 3 People that did not normally have any social anxiety. Now they have extreme social anxiety to the point where they don’t even want to go to the grocery store. They’d rather have it delivered.

Miles Bloxson To guide us through the season. We decided to speak with my therapist to help us understand all the changes and how they could be affecting us on a mental and physical level.

Bella Rockman I’m Bella Rockman and I work as a neuro psychotherapist and mental health media correspondent.

Elizabeth McQueen And when we spoke to Laurence, we realized that we’d all just passed the four year anniversary of the Covid shutdown.

Miles Bloxson And to some, that four years went by way too fast.

Lawrence Boone So it it seems like it just happened or we’re repressing it to where it seems like it could have been 10 or 20 years ago. And for some people, people are still getting Covid. I know there was a big spike over the past maybe 3 or 4 months. So I still think we’re living under that umbrella of do I need to wear a mask? Do I want to get sick? If I’m sick, I’m out of work, you know, for a couple of weeks. Am I going to get other people sick? So that is still a very real fear that that exists. But I also think people are. That that having to have that mindset is exhausting. So they’re fighting really hard to try not to go back to that. You know, where where we had to be indoors all day long or you’re you’re just kind of have to be flippant about it. And being like, well, if I get Covid, I get Covid, I can’t not go to work, I can’t I don’t want to not go see my friends. Like, I want to go see these shows. So that’s a weird dichotomy of thought process. I think that’s going on right now with people.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah. I mean, and they told us whether we want to believe it or not, we’ve all been affected by Covid.

Bella Rockman Yeah, I think it has definitely had a collective effect. We have individual trauma and then there’s collective trauma. And so not only have we experienced a collective trauma, like in terms of just local or regional or bicoastal or national, but it’s been a global effect. As a matter of fact, the World Health Organization, had a report this show that there has been about at least a 25% increase globally in anxiety and depression as a result of the pandemic. And so, you know, whenever you have like, especially like it wasn’t like a short term kind of event, it was something that was ongoing and there wasn’t a very specific end in sight. And over time, that takes a toll on us. And we kind of can get fatigue and like waiting for things to change. And so, although, I mean, we’re not completely out of the woods, I think post-pandemic life, people are kind of trying to figure out what life should be like now, and should we be trying to make it like it was before, or how do we adapt?

Miles Bloxson We take it a step further and ask for her thoughts on how people are handling a post-pandemic world now, when everything is pretty much all the way normal.

Elizabeth McQueen But in a weird way. Like we said before, it’s not.

Bella Rockman You know, I think in some ways, I think in the beginning, like, before right before things started opening up again, everyone was talking about it, you know, on television, radio, like around our kitchen tables. How are we going to jazz? Are you going to mask? Are you not going to mask? Have you got in your shot? Are you going to let are you going to be around people that you know that haven’t had the vaccine? Like there were so many different conversations about it. But I think in a very kind of pull up, you’re pull yourself up by your bootstraps kind of American way. Like in some ways we probably swept some of it under the rug and just kind of like when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Let’s just get back to it. But I do think that we’re still experiencing the effects of it, just because maybe we aren’t talking about it as much, it doesn’t mean that we’re not experiencing it.

Miles Bloxson And, you know, Elizabeth, all of this has affected our music scene here in Austin.

Elizabeth McQueen Oh, yeah. It’s one of the many things that has affected. At our music scene, and throughout this season, you’re going to hear a collection of voices that are going to reappear in different episodes, because the changes we’re going to be talking about this season impact everyone in different ways, although we’re not going to be talking about Covid anymore.

Miles Bloxson Miles, but the one of the first things we’ll be discussing is climate change.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah, we had a crazy summer, like the heat was so intense.

Miles Bloxson And it affected a lot of artists, a lot of fans, in a lot of venues.

Elizabeth McQueen The artists didn’t perform as much and the fans couldn’t take the heat in some cases.

Miles Bloxson And some venues just didn’t know what else they could do.

Lawrence Boone Well, what we tried to do indoor shows, but it was still hot inside. You know, we tried to bring in fans, but our space is so big, there’s just no way to cool it down. There’s just not other than that, like, drink a bunch of water. Really? There’s not much you can do. There’s just not if you have answers. I would love to hear, but.

Elizabeth McQueen We didn’t have answers.

Miles Bloxson And honestly, we didn’t know a lot about climate change and weather. But we reached out to someone who does.

David Yeomans I’m David Yeomans, I’m the chief meteorologist at KXAN on the first Warning Weather Team, the NBC affiliate here in Austin.

Miles Bloxson We needed an expert. And I’ll be honest with y’all, once we started talking, I was thinking, this guy may be a little overqualified to be talking to us.

David Yeomans I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. There’s bachelors of science, master of science in meteorology. So I was in class with a lot of engineers, a lot of physics majors, because how the atmosphere works and moves is all math, and it’s more math than I cared to do. I’m glad it’s behind me because I don’t do that math anymore every day. But yeah, I mean, this is all scientific stuff.

Elizabeth McQueen He said it was all about the math. And so we decided to ask him.

Miles Bloxson What do you feel like climate change will mean for Central Texas in the future? And let me just tell you, before we get into the answer, it’s not what we expected. Maybe we were just being a tad bit naive.

David Yeomans I’m glad you asked. The fifth. National Climate Assessment was just released by the US government. This is a compilation of NOAA scientists, kind of our best, brightest minds in climate science. And they found specific to Austin. Let’s talk about where we live. Remember I said we’ve already doubled our 100 degree days in the last 30, 50 years, even in an intermediate emissions scenario, meaning we continue to cut our greenhouse gas emissions at the rate we’re doing, maybe a little faster than that. Even in 20 years, Austin is going to double our 100 degree day count again. So instead of an average of 29, it would be an average of over 5100 degree days. So if you extrapolate that to our worst summers, 8090 days in our worst summers, well, let’s double that. In a worst case scenario. By the end of the century, we may not be around, but our kids will. Our grandkids, they could triple. In those situations. It is possible, according to these scientific projections, by people much smarter than I, that half of the days in a given year in Austin would be a hundred degrees.

Miles Bloxson Okay, David, we got to find somewhere else to live. So where do you live?

David Yeomans I used to be fun at parties, and now I’m not.

Elizabeth McQueen We have a whole episode coming up where we’re going to be looking for answers about how Austin music can deal with this hotter future.

Miles Bloxson And it’s not just climate change that affects people, it’s the changes in the laws as well. Coming up after the break, you’ll hear from artists who have been affected by the laws that have been recently put in place.

Elizabeth McQueen Welcome back to Pause Play, a podcast about live music, why it matters, and what comes next. We’re talking about all the changes that have impacted the live music scene here in Austin. And two of those changes are the bans on gender affirming care and drag shows that passed in the last legislative session.

Miles Bloxson We spoke with Jammy Violet, an Austin musician who leads a band called Pelvis Wrestling.

Elizabeth McQueen They were celebrating a holiday with their family when they got the news. That is today.

Jammy Violet I found out about the earliest versions of the drag bound bill on Thanksgiving of 2022. So it’s like looking forward, anticipating the legislation or the legislative season. And, I was about to go, have have Thanksgiving lunch with my with my family. A lot of my family is very conservative. A lot of my family isn’t. But it was, just extremely disregulated to go and sit down and try to have a nice dinner and then, just like anger. I think it’s what I. What I felt an anger of, like, I begged you guys, I begged you guys to pay attention to this stuff, and I know that you want me here. But now I got to go like where it did. Introduce the conversations of, like what? Where are you going to go? What are you thinking about doing?

Unidentified I told him.

Jammy Violet Will you wait for me? Will you wait for me? What do you to me?

Unidentified Folding. And you. Sovereignty.

Miles Bloxson And we also spoke with Caleb de Casper, who incorporates drag into their shows.

Caleb de Caspar I’m Caleb de Caspar. I am a local musician and I guess political activist now.

Miles Bloxson So we asked him what made him get involved.

Caleb de Caspar I have to remember honestly, because it was so like I just got swept up in it. And then what happens is you end up spending every single day at the Capitol no matter what. And I rearranged my entire life for it, like work life balance, social stuff. And I just like, was there all the time. So. The beginning, I guess, when I started to see other people in the community also like speaking on it and posting about it, I was like, maybe this is a little bit more serious. And what I thought, specifically I saw like Maggie from Cheer UPS was starting to post about it. And so that’s a person who owns a business. So it’s like they’re not gonna. Go on a ledge for something that’s not real, you know? Then I saw, my friend Bridget bandit, who was. Really well known in the drag community and not really well known globally because of, you know, her part in all of this. And so those are people that I trusted their judgment. And I started to look into it more. And I was like, yeah, this actually might might happen one of these days. I’m. Someone who can be my own. These days, I’ll need someone who can be my own.

Elizabeth McQueen And it did happen, as did something else people really didn’t think would happen at first. An abortion ban. Ever since the Supreme Court ruled that states could outlaw abortion, abortion has been illegal in Texas after six weeks of pregnancy, with very few exceptions. Adrian Lake is a music publicist here in Austin.

Caleb de Caspar When it happened, there were a lot of conversations in person and online, people saying they were packing up and leaving, hearing men saying, well, it’s time for that vasectomy. And actually hearing women saying, you know, I guess we’re going to have, you know, surgery to make sure that we aren’t forced into a bad situation. It’s really hard to wrap your head around these people in charge of controlling other people’s lives and bodies, and they know nothing about it, and they don’t care. They don’t even care if it’s a situation where, you know, the child was wanted. But there are medical issues. They don’t care if the mother’s life is at risk. It’s about control. And again, these these types of things, affect the creative class and people who struggle financially more than anybody else.

Miles Bloxson You know, Elizabeth, some people might think that these laws only affect certain groups of people, but honestly, they impact all of us.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah. And you might be surprised how these laws impact our music scene.

Miles Bloxson And people aren’t just fighting laws, but they’re fighting just to live here in Austin. Yeah.

Elizabeth McQueen Like we’ve talked about in earlier seasons, Austin has become really expensive and a lot of people can’t even afford to live here anymore.

Miles Bloxson Lawrence from the Far Out Lounge told us this topic is on a lot of people’s minds.

Lawrence Boone People talk about it every day. People talk about it every day, and people that don’t want to move. People would much rather continue doing what they’re doing in the city that they’re living in. Once you start counting the money and the shorter it gets, the more, you have to think about moving somewhere else.

Elizabeth McQueen And musicians are moving outside of Austin. So what does that do to our scene.

Miles Bloxson And how does that transform the places that they’re moving to?

Elizabeth McQueen We’re going to talk about that this season as well.

Miles Bloxson And speaking of affordability, what’s up with the high ticket prices?

Elizabeth McQueen We’ve all experienced an increase in ticket prices. And this season we’re going to explore why prices are going up. So we spoke with the founder of Front Gate Tickets. My name is Melody price. And my current profession is that I’m a professor at the McCombs School of Business. I teach entrepreneurship. My past professions are many and include being in the music industry, building a lot of website software. So there you go. Meli actually developed one of the first independent online ticketing platforms right here in Austin, which is a great story and which you will hear this season.

Miles Bloxson We asked her, what’s up with pricing? What are these crazy service fees and processing fees? I mean, how do we even get here?

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah, we really wanted to know what’s different now versus when she started in the game.

Mellie Price Oh, I definitely think there’s something different. The reason is. The lines have been blurred over time. You know, secondary market tickets were the place where tickets got marked up unreasonably. So if it was a high demand show, the, scalper or the secondary market individual got the bigger chunk of the money. And now that people recognize, show is worth a certain price, you know, the demand of the show is limited and limited number of tickets, and the demand is high. Then you can raise the price. And I think more and more artists want participation in that. And so they’ve allowed, kind of the lines to be blurred. And, you know, it used to be like you were the promoter and you had a network of people that told you how shows were doing in your region. And so you when you bid to have an artist come to your venue, you kind of priced it based on what you thought, you could make money off of.

Miles Bloxson These are just some of the things that will cover this season.

Elizabeth McQueen We’ll also talk about South by Southwest AI and how it’s affected music, what’s different with venues and how the younger generation is approaching live music.

Miles Bloxson And we’re sitting here talking about all of these changes, some of which can seem really scary.

Elizabeth McQueen And like we said in the beginning, change is sometimes a force. We tend to fight. Sometimes we battle it, but sometimes it’s just out of our control.

Miles Bloxson Change can be traumatic, but it can also help us grow.

Bella Rockman We think about post pandemic stress and post-traumatic stress and complex post-traumatic stress. But also there is a thing as far as posts, there’s such a thing as post-traumatic growth. So we as individuals, we as a collective, we can grow as a result of trauma. Does it mean that we need pain or that we want pain in order to grow and become better or become different? No, but we can take it. We can alkermes it. And sometimes the goal is not always to get back to just I have to get back to who I was before this or I, we have to get back to who we were. But how do we become the better versions of ourselves, of what we have now? So how do we pick up the rubble, see what’s left, and then integrate that into becoming the better version of what we can with what we have? You know, and that’s that is post-traumatic growth and that is resiliency and that is neuroplasticity. So that’s still available. And there’s still hope in the world. And so when we think about trauma, I don’t want it to all be, foreboding. There are some wonderful things that can come out of it as a result as well.

Elizabeth McQueen We can grow from change. We can be resilient.

Miles Bloxson And we can become stronger. And I think that change sometimes can be a good thing.

Elizabeth McQueen Yeah. I mean, it’s not always bad.

Miles Bloxson We’re looking forward to exploring all these changes with you this season.

Elizabeth McQueen In the next episode, we’re going to be talking about climate change.

Miles Bloxson And we want to hear from you. What changes do you think have impacted the Austin music scene? You can let us know by heading on over to social media. Our handle is Cosplay Pod on Instagram and Facebook.

Elizabeth McQueen Or you can leave us a message directly by heading to cut KT dot studio slash contact cosplay.

Miles Bloxson Cosplay is a production of CT and Ktrk Studios. It is reported produced and hosted by me, Myles Blocks.

Elizabeth McQueen And me Elizabeth McQueen. Our executive producer is Matt Riley.

Miles Bloxson Zachary Crim helps write, record and edit this episode. Production assistants by his senior shop.

Elizabeth McQueen Jake Pearlman and Matt Largey also helped with editing and audio production.

Miles Bloxson Stephanie Federico is our digital editor. Michael Manasi is our multimedia editor.

Elizabeth McQueen Special thanks to Todd Callahan and Peter Babb for their technical support and guidance.

Miles Bloxson Original music for this episode was created by the talented Jaron Marshall.

Elizabeth McQueen Other music provided by the talented Jack Anderson and APM.

This transcript was transcribed by AI, and lightly edited by a human. Accuracy may vary. This text may be revised in the future.


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