The show must go on: When Austin-area music venues hope to reopen, COVID-19 precautions

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The Mohawk will make its long-awaited return to the Austin live music scene May 27, hosting its first performance in over a year.

The Mohawk will make its long-awaited return to the Austin live music scene May 27, hosting its first performance in over a year. (Courtesy The Mohawk)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin-area music venues are singing a new tune as vaccination rates increase in Austin-Travis County and businesses expand capacity sizes and operations.

The Mohawk’s May 5 announcement about upcoming performances confirmed the Austin venue’s long-awaited return to the live music scene. Heartless Bastards will perform alongside The Tender Things May 27, marking the venue’s first live, in-person concert since March 12, 2020.

“It’s been something that’s affected the entire industry, not just one market,” said Austen Bailey, talent buyer at The Mohawk. “It’s been incredibly humbling and also inspiring in a lot of ways, just to see the way that we were able to get Save Our Stages passed — that was a big deal.”

The Mohawk made the decision to remain closed and not attempt a pod-style, socially distanced layout, Bailey said. He added the venue wanted to remain true to its performance roots, as well as make a conscientious reopening decision based on the safety of its staff, performers and guests.

Venue staff monitored vaccination rates and hospitalizations in Texas to help inform its reopening strategy, he added.

For upcoming performances, guests will undergo a temperature check, perform a quick health screening and are asked to wear their masks in the venue when not eating or drinking.

“We didn’t want to be the first out of the gate to reopen, just to observe and learn from the others and see what they were doing,” he said. “Nobody has a crystal ball with this thing, but it’s just trying to follow the science and let that inform when we can come back.”

Between the Paycheck Protection Program loans and the federal Save Our Stages Act, these funding measures have helped keep The Mohawk’s doors open when some other area venues have had to shut down.

“We’re cultural institutions, but we’re also economic hubs,” Bailey said.

While it’s difficult to understate the devastation caused by the pandemic, he added it would also be impossible to ignore the support and community camaraderie shared between fans, musicians and venue owners.

“It was bittersweet there for a while, for sure,” Bailey said. “But it’s definitely — it means a lot to know that we’re an institution here in Austin that people care about saving.”

In addition to The Mohawk, here are some of the Austin-based music venues that have announced upcoming reopening plans and music concert series.

Germania Insurance Amphitheater: The Germania Insurance Amphitheater celebrated its first live show in more than a year on May 2, featuring a performance from the Austin Opera. The next scheduled concert is Alanis Morissette on Aug. 12.

KXAN has contacted the venue for COVID-19 safety measures and will update once we’ve received a response.

9201 Circuit of The Americas, Austin. 512-301-6600.

ZACH Theatre: Beginning with an outdoor, socially distanced performance March 28 with a Grand Ole Opry theme, the ZACH Theatre will continue its outdoor concerts with “Songs Under the Stars.” The series kicks off June 10 and runs through Aug. 8.

Masks are required when guests are not seated, with social distancing measures in place. Groups are limited to six guests or fewer, and there will be designated admission times. The ZACH Theatre will accept mobile tickets only and no outside food and drinks will be allowed.

1510 Tomey Road, Austin. 512-476-0541.

Radio Coffee & Beer: Celebrating a return to its bluegrass series March 8, Radio Coffee & Beer will continue its socially distanced, live music performances with its next show May 15, featuring Jackie the Robot & Vapor Caves.

Masks are required for guests unless they are seated at a table, with sanitation stations and social distancing guidelines in place for guests and staff. Both guests and staff who are feeling sick or have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 are asked to stay home.

4204 Manchaca Road, Austin. 512-394-7844.

Vista Brewing: Tucked away on a 21-acre Hill Country property, Vista Brewing will host its “Live on the Lawn” and “Driftwood Nights” outdoor concert series. Upcoming “Live on the Lawn” performances include Hartley Hall on May 8 and Christopher Cody Meacham on May 15. From the “Driftwood Nights” songwriter series, Graham Wilkinson will play May 7, followed by Parker Chapin’s performance on May 14.

Masks are required for guests when not seated at tables, and customers are asked to maintain social distancing. Reservations are required to attend live music performances.

13551 FM 150, Driftwood. 512-766-1842.

Stubb’s Bar-B-Q: For those looking for live music and a side of barbecue, Stubb’s will welcome the Black Pumas for a 5-day run on May 26-30. The shows mark a return to live performances, with upcoming featured artists including Surfaces, Iration and Louis the Child.

Staff are required to wear masks at all times, and guests must wear a face covering whenever they aren’t seated. The venue will accept non-cash payments only, and sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the building and backyard. Guests are asked to maintain social distancing.

801 Red River St., Austin. 737-465-1218.

Bass Concert Hall: Bass Concert Hall will return with live performances July 31, featuring a performance by Cody Ko and Noel Miller. Later dates include rescheduled performances for Iliza Shlesinger and Bert Kreischer.

“Texas Performing Arts (TPA) will alert patrons of COVID protocols closer to their respective event date to be certain they receive the most up to date accurate information,” representatives from Bass Concert Hall said in a May 10 email.

2350 Robert Dedman Drive, Austin. 512-471-2787.

Frank Erwin Center: Following an initial July 2020 postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tame Impala will return to the Frank Erwin Center on Aug. 14. Upcoming concerts in the work include artists Michael Bublé, Chris Stapleton and Lauren Daigle.

KXAN has contacted the venue for COVID-19 safety measures and will update once we’ve received a response.

1701 Red River St., Austin. 512-471-7744.

Historic Scoot Inn: Kicking off with a Sublime tribute performance April 20, upcoming shows at the Historic Scoot Inn include The Dead South, Lucy Dacus and JMSN.

Guests and staff are required to wear masks at all times except while eating or drinking. Only cashless payments will be accepted, and staff will disinfect high-touch areas before and after each event. Hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the venue, along with disinfectant wipes.

1308 E. 4th St., Austin.

Emo’s: Featuring a lineup of postponed, rescheduled and new bookings, Emo’s upcoming shows include performances from Girls Gotta Eat, Alec Benjamin and COIN.

KXAN has contacted the venue for COVID-19 safety measures and will update once we’ve received a response.

2015 E. Riverside Drive, Austin.

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