If you spend enough time in Texas, it’s easy to see why everyone who lives here is so obsessed with living here. It’s the kind of place where, if you and your friend are sitting on a picnic table outside the venue doors, sweat dripping down the plastic cups of your $14 gin and tonics, the nice couple sitting next to you will actually talk to you. They’ll tell you about how their daughters love Kacey Musgraves, how they stopped and bought Pageant Material on a driving trip down to South Padre Island, how they’ve been living in Austin forever and are so thankful for the twist of fate that brought them, after so many times entering the Austin City Limits ticket giveaway lottery, to see Kacey tape her ACL TV special tonight.
Texans talk. There’s a natural congeniality that Texans share at every large group function. You get used to it after living here long enough, but it always surprises visitors. I was offered a stick of gum in the pit at one punk show, and a teen at another handed me a $20 after he accidentally knocked a bottle of Topo Chico out of my hand. Lines at doors feel like a family reunion, because after a while, you start recognizing the same faces at all those gigs. And even if the line is full of strangers, it somehow still feels like catching up with old friends — a bit like a small town, even within a big city.
The atmosphere at the Moody Theater was different last Wednesday night. I’d been to the venue quite a few times, since the Moody hosts regular concerts in addition to broadcast tapings. But walking in a half hour after doors opened, there was a long line of campers outside, sitting in those foldable cloth chairs that dads bring to their kids’ softball games or to listen to The War on Drugs super far away at music festivals.
Upstairs and inside the venue, everyone was buzzing, milling about, always talking, not sure where to go. My friend and I almost stood in the wrong line to buy bottles of water. We tripped up the stairs finding our seats. I heard some people behind me say the stage looked beautiful, they’d never been here before. I’d only seen the Austin City Limits mural from the TV before, and being there in person was a little surreal. I told my friend that — by extension, also telling it to everyone sitting around me.