Austin, Texas is known for its vibrant music scene, with genres ranging from country to rock to indie. However, there is a lesser-known but equally exciting genre that is gaining popularity in the city: disco. In this article, we will take a journey through the history of Austin-based disco and explore the evolution of the genre through three key moments: 40M, 235M, and 785M.
The Birth of Austin Disco:
Disco music emerged in the United States in the 1970s, with its origins in African American and Latino communities. The genre quickly spread to clubs and dance floors across the country, with hits like “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees and “Le Freak” by Chic dominating the airwaves.
Austin’s disco scene emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with local clubs like Armadillo World Headquarters and Liberty Lunch hosting disco nights. One of the most famous disco clubs of the era was Studio 54 West, which was located in the Westgate Shopping Center and hosted legendary parties throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s.
40M: The First Wave of Austin Disco:
The first wave of Austin disco took place in the early 1980s, with bands like the Time Machine and Club Foot Orchestra performing at clubs like Club Foot and Confetti’s. The scene was characterized by the use of live instruments, including saxophones, trumpets, and keyboards, combined with the traditional disco beat.
One of the most iconic songs from this era was “Funky Robot” by the Time Machine, which featured a driving beat and a catchy horn riff. The song was a local hit and is still played at Austin clubs today.
235M: The Second Wave of Austin Disco:
The second wave of Austin disco took place in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with a new generation of DJs and producers taking the reins. This era was characterized by the use of electronic instruments, including synthesizers and drum machines, and a more experimental approach to the genre.
One of the most notable producers from this era was Chicken George, who released several albums of funky, sample-based disco music. Chicken George’s music blended classic disco sounds with elements of jazz, funk, and hip hop, and his DJ sets were legendary in Austin’s club scene.
785M: The Current Wave of Austin Disco:
The current wave of Austin disco is characterized by a return to live instruments and a focus on the intersection of disco and other genres. Bands like Capyac, Tameca Jones, and Honey Made are all putting their own spin on the classic disco sound, incorporating elements of funk, soul, and R&B.
Capyac, in particular, has become one of the most popular disco acts in Austin. The band’s live shows are known for their high-energy performances, featuring a full band with horns, keyboards, and percussion. Capyac’s music blends disco with elements of house, funk, and pop, and the band has released several albums to critical acclaim.
While Austin’s disco scene may not be as well-known as its country or indie music scenes, it is a vibrant and exciting part of the city’s musical landscape. In addition to the bands and DJs mentioned in the previous section, there are many other artists and venues that are keeping the disco flame alive in Austin.
One such venue is Hotel Vegas, which hosts a monthly disco night called “Body Rock ATX.” The event features a rotating cast of DJs spinning classic and contemporary disco tunes, as well as live performances by local bands and musicians. Another popular venue for disco in Austin is the Sahara Lounge, which features a diverse array of live music acts, including many that incorporate disco and funk elements into their sound.
In addition to these live music venues, there are also several radio shows in Austin that focus on disco and related genres. One such show is “Rising Stars Radio,” which airs on KOOP 91.7 FM and features a mix of disco, house, and funk music. Another popular radio show is “The Night Shift,” which airs on KUTX 98.9 FM and features a mix of new and classic disco tracks.
Despite its relative obscurity, Austin-based disco has a devoted following of fans and musicians who are passionate about the genre. Whether you’re looking to dance the night away at a club, catch a live performance by a local band, or simply listen to some disco music on the radio, Austin has something to offer for fans of this classic genre.
Austin-based disco has come a long way since the early days of Studio 54 West and the Time Machine. From the use of live instruments to the rise of electronic music, the genre has undergone several evolutions over the past few decades. Today, Austin’s disco scene is thriving, with a new generation of artists taking the genre in exciting new directions. Whether you’re a fan of classic disco or the latest experimental sounds, Austin’s disco scene is worth exploring.