Is it time for concerts to return to Austin? The Rolling Stones think so


FILE – In this March 25, 2016 file photo, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger performs in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Enric Marti, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — After The Rolling Stones were forced to postpone their “No Filter” tour last year, which included a stop in Austin, fans that bought tickets for the show back in 2020 will finally have a chance to see the iconic British band.

As the last leg of the rescheduled tour, The Rolling Stones will be at Circuit of the Americas on Nov. 20, returning back to Austin for the first time in more than a decade.

It’s one of many concerts and festivals that had to be nixed in 2020 but has rebounded this year as access to COVID-19 vaccines and best practices becomes widely available. More than 70% of eligible people in Travis County are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Dale Skjerseth, the production director for The Rolling Stones, painted a picture of the landscape right now as the band prepares for the start of that tour Sunday.

Behind the scenes with COVID-19

Skjerseth says the decision to hit the road again was one that had to be made as a team. Roughly 150 crew members are involved in the tour, all of which, Skjerseth claims, are vaccinated.

He also says they’ve implemented strict policies for their crew including masking, dividing up catering, creating zones for specific people, going straight from the venue to the hotel and having doctors on staff. The goal, he says, is to make it all nine weeks without having to go home.

What they don’t have as much control over is the crowd.

“We’re not here to change the rules or judge anyone on anything besides what we do in our own camp,” Skjerseth said.

He says they are asking fans to mask up during concerts and are working with venues across the nation, including COTA, to follow local guidelines. At the end of the day, they’re hoping people will use their best judgement.

“We ask the locals that we work with that they mask up, and we work together. We’re not here to make it anything besides we’re all doing something we haven’t done for the last two years,” he said.

What to expect

If you happened to catch The Rolling Stones in Austin last time they were in town in 2006, you’re going to get a much different show this time.

Skjerseth says this show will be a much smaller production, with a ‘less is more’ feel. The 2006 tour had nearly 60 trucks — there will be roughly half of that coming on this tour.

“We’re shooting for the sound… and what the band is,” he said.

As for the venue, Skjerseth says he’s been to COTA three times so far to figure out what challenges they may have, which right now includes working with a slope where they want to put their stage.

“We added bleacher sections and things like that, it’s going on full on right now to make sure we’re in good shape,” he said.

The band kicks off its tour Sept. 26 in St. Louis, and they’ll be at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Nov. 2. Here’s a complete list of tour stops:

  • September 26             St. Louis, MO            The Dome at America’s Center
  • September 30            Charlotte, NC            Bank Of America Stadium
  • October 4                  Pittsburgh, PA          Heinz Field
  • October 9                 Nashville, TN            Nissan Stadium
  • October 13               New Orleans, LA       New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
  • October 17               Los Angeles, CA        SoFi Stadium
  • October 24            Minneapolis, MN      U.S. Bank Stadium
  • October 29                  Tampa, FL                 Raymond James Stadium
  • November 2              Dallas, TX                 Cotton Bowl Stadium
  • November 6            Las Vegas, NV           Allegiant Stadium
  • November 11            Atlanta, GA              Mercedes-Benz Stadium
  • November 15            Detroit, MI               Ford Field
  • November 20             Austin, TX                 Circuit of The Americas

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