“Austin City Limits” Changes Locations, Guards Vibe
After 33 years in a sixth-floor studio on the University of Texas campus, the PBS concert series Austin City Limits is moving from its 300-seat studio to a theater in downtown Austin which will accommodate 2,000 people. But long-time producer Terry Lickona is on vigilant vibe-watch to ensure that the series doesn’t lose the casual, intimate atmosphere that has fostered so many great performances over the years.
“Our foremost goal, above all else, is to maintain the same vibe, the same atmosphere that was created here, that has worked so well,” says Lickona, who has produced the show for 30 years. “The last thing we want is to open this place, after all the dreams we had in the three years of designing and planning, and then have people come and say, ‘They ruined it. They had a great thing and destroyed it.'”
Unfortunately the famously deceptive set–seriously, even though I know it’s a backdrop I still don’t believe it sometimes–is too fragile to make the move, but they’re “considering a 3-D model” because the show is now filmed in high definition.
Considering how respected the show is (especially down in big T), I doubt they’d let a new venue sink the quality, but this news did put me a bit on edge because Austin City Limits is just about the last place on TV you can find a decent musical performance (acoustics and mix-wise). For instance, compare even Wilco’s surprisingly high-quality performance on SNL to this Robert Earl Keen performance on ACL:
The sound is so much fuller on the ACL set, and it would be a real shame if they lost that for the sake of a bigger performance space.