Gotta talk about the venue first.
I was here in November for Clay Walker (http://livemusicinaustin.blogspot.com/2012/11/off-starting-grid.html) during the inaugural F1 races, from then 'til now the grass has grown, the permanent stage went up, and all the seats went in. Perfect! The set up is pretty sweet. The Grand Plaza has all of the eats, drinks, and swag you need. There was also a giant tailgate party to kick off the grand opening event, which was fun, and a great idea. To top it off, there was a stage in a large grassy area off the Grand Plaza. Here, Mickey and The Motorcars kept us entertained while everyone drank, ate, and took in the whole spectacle. -More about Mickey and The Motorcars performance in a separate post-
Once past the Grand Plaza courtyard and into the body of the amphitheater there are more food booths and drink stations. With plenty of spots to grab something, there are virtually no lines for food or drink. The staff from Sodexo that were assisting the patrons with food or drink were all great, friendly, and smiling. In one location it was set up like an outside bar with nice, high top tables and comfortable stools. This was so cool to grab a drink (and maybe a snack), sit down next to the railing, and enjoy the music with a side view of the stage. Very nice!
I would like to see a little improvement to the lighting around the concourse of the amphitheater. Once it got dark, it was pretty damn difficult to see where you were going. Some sort of path lighting or l.e.d.'s would make a huge difference and not affect the ability to see the show. Although there were plenty of restrooms (thank you folks for getting that right), there was no type of lighting by the portable bathrooms, making that an experience I would have rather not accomplished.
And then there was Kenny Chesney (http://www.kennychesney.com/home.php)! The flag (No Shoes Nation) was hung, the music started, and then the flag went up, exposing what seemed to be a pretty simple stage set-up. Oh! I was wrong! The massive wall of video screens completely engulfed the back of the stage and came to life playing an intro video that was digitally and visually stunning. With folks like Willie Nelson and Matthew McConaughey welcoming all to the 'No Shoes Nation' and the Austin360 Amphitheater, it was pretty damn cool. Then, in a split second, the wall of screens rotated for a blinding explosion of light that really kicked things off. I mean this thing just lit up the night! There was also a large screen above the stage so you didn't miss the performance as it happened. No matter where you were, it was like a full on television production. That made it every bit worthwhile to be in the audience and experience this! Mariza Cruz has seen Kenny Chesney previously in San Antonio, and although she loved that show and the performance, this was the cake topper. Not only was the Austin360 venue exciting, but the performance was pulse pounding and rhythm inducing. She was happily dancing to everything Kenny Chesney performed.
For me it was about enjoying the music, liking what I heard, and the smile inducing feeling that came over me. Kenny proudly performed his set and made it easy for the audience to take it all in. There was not a seated soul in the house. In the cool Texas night air it was a sight to behold, thousands of people on their feet and feeling the music. There were a couple of songs that I had hoped to hear, but can understand, with a 15 album catalog, that would not be possible. Not even in the two hours that Kenny was on stage, and that time flew by!
Thanks to the Austin360 Amphitheater for this night and opportunity, I look forward to many more.