Crowe brings band, not
acting, to Austin hotspot
DALLAS MORNING NEWS,
By Chris Vognar / The
Dallas Morning News
They'll descend on Austin from all over the world to see a band few have even heard of.
Ground zero: Stubb's BBQ, tonight, Aug. 11 and 18, where a hunky hero will take a little
break from his day job.
Don't even think about ordering ticketsto see 30 Odd Foot of Grunts; they sold out 90
minutes after they went on sale. At one point, brokers were asking as much as $2,000 for
tonight's show. Press and public have been turned away in droves.
Gruntmania is running high in these parts, and it's all because of an Australian
heartthrob named Russell Crowe. You know him from his recent sword-swinging turn in
Gladiator or perhaps his Oscar-nominated whistle-blower role in last year's The Insider.
Now, a few thousand frenzied fans will get to see Mr. Crowe wail away as lead
singer/guitarist for the Grunts, in town to record their new album and test the waters of
Texas' live music capital.
"I've never seen anything like this before," says Stubb's co-owner Charles
Atall. "I knew it was going to be a hot show, but I didn't think we'd sell 4,500
tickets in an hour and a half."
Mr. Crowe and his gruntmates were to play the first concert at Stubb's' indoor venue,
which holds only 300 people. But this week, the gig was moved to the club's larger outdoor
stage, where the other two shows will be held. Additional tickets for the first show,
which were put on sale Thursday afternoon, were expected to be snapped up immediately.
Prior to the stage change, a ticket for the first show could have been yours for $2,000,
according to Kent Taylor of Showtime Tickets in Austin. The other two showsare going for
the bargain price of $200.
"I don't get the concept of why people are freaking out over this group," Mr.
Taylor says. "Everybody's like, 'Russell Crowe, Russell Crowe, Russell Crowe.' I'm
like, 'Oh, he sings?' "
Perhaps Mr. Taylor is just the wrong gender. One woman sent Stubb's' managing
partner/director of operations Mike Hall a dozen roses in hopes of landing a ticket. Mr.
Atall scored some live lobsters. Phone calls and faxes have come in from Australia,
England, Japan, Ireland, India, Taiwan, Italy, Germany, Brazil. Mr. Atall estimates that
80 percent of ticket buyers have been women and that 10 percent have been from Austin.
Mr. Crowe is hardly the first movie personality to dabble in rock; Bruce Willis, Keanu
Reeves and camp icon David Hasselhoff have all tried their hand. They just didn't seem to
generate as much . . . devotion.
"These are just die-hard Russell Crowe fans," Mr. Hall says. "If you can
imagine women who are just infatuated with this guy . . . they're concerned with how close
they can get to the stage, if they can see him, if they can come to sound check."
All of this for a band that has released one full-length CD (1998's Gaslight) that isn't
exactly a hot seller in these parts. "30 what?" asked an employee at a Dallas
The band consists of Mr. Crowe on guitar and vocals, Garth Adams on bass, Dean Cochran on
guitar and Dave Kelly on drums. They played the notorious Viper Room in Los Angeles last
year, and according to the frighteningly thorough Web site, maximumcrowe.com, they
performed for a packed house at the Borderline in London, on July 23. The Grunts' music is
generally described as pubbish folk rock. The band's CDs and merchandise are available at www.gruntland.com.
Meanwhile, Stubb's' profile is going through the roof. Mr. Atall has been interviewed for
Entertainment Weekly and People; the Crowe Web site features an eight-photo spread of the
club, from all angles, in all of its glory. ("Stubb's is on a hillside, with two
levels indoors and a river out back.") Suddenly, the venerable dinner spot/sauce
manufacturer/music venue has
an international rep.
"It's been great for the venue, because people from all over the world know our name
now," Mr. Atall says. "It helps us sell the barbecue sauce, too."
Thanks to BMC for posting