In the Moodys

Confusion reigns in the Texas State Capitol in more ways than one: Austin now has three different event venues named “Moody.”

The oldest of the three is the ACL Live at the Moody Theater, located below the W Hotel and Residences on 2nd Street. The theater holds 2,750 and has state of the art sound and light systems. Way back in February 2011, Bill and I attended the venue’s opening night concert featuring Willie Nelson. A week later we went to a fundraiser for the unveiling of the new backdrop for the PBS TV show Austin City Limits. The Steve Miller Band was the headliner that evening, with opening sets by locals Ray Benson and Carolyn Wonderland.

Our first ACL TV taping was to see Tim McGraw in September 2012. We didn’t know there was a night-of stand and wasted over a year trying to win free tickets. Since then, we have attended many tapings and concerts at the ACL Moody Theater.

Now Austin has a Moody Amphitheater nestled in Waterloo Park. For over 10 years, this public park had been closed to build this amphitheater, a playground, green spaces, walkways, and most importantly, a flood control system to protect the Waterloo Greenway that goes through downtown.

Bill and I went to the Amphitheater’s opening concert in October 2021 to watch one of our favorite local bands, Asleep at the Wheel. The Amphitheater’s capacity is about 5,000, mostly with rows of seats, but there’s also some lawn space in the back. Several huge State of Texas garages are nearby, so parking was manageable. The sound system was great, but we wondered if that was because our seats were front and center.

Recently we saw Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats at the Moody Amphitheater. This time our seats were further back and on the side, but the sound was still great. The only problem is that this is an outdoor amphitheater. Even though the site is shaded in the evening, we’ll think twice about attending summer concerts there.

Austin’s third Moody venue, the Moody Center, has recently opened. We didn’t go to April’s inaugural concert with Willie Nelson and George Strait, but last month we saw The Who there. With a capacity of 15,000+, this venue will definitely attract the big touring shows. Located only a few blocks from Waterloo Park, the Moody Center is also close to those huge State parking garages. However, the parking situation could get complicated when both venues have events.

The Moody Center was primarily built as a basketball arena for the University of Texas, replacing the aging Frank Erwin Center (aka “The Drum”). We were not impressed with the sound system. The music sounded fuzzy, but hopefully that will improve with time. Even The Who’s lead guitarist, Jon Entwistle, commented that the arena seemed more appropriate for a cheering crowd than for listening to music.

Other Texas cities have multiple things named Moody—Moody Gardens in Galveston comes to mind—but this is a recent phenomenon in Austin. UT’s Moody College of Communications helpfully explains The Moody Family Story. And how will we keep all these Moody venues straight? For now, I’m going with “ACL Moody Theater,” “the Amphitheater,” and “Moody Center.”

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