Imminent inclement weather held off just long enough for Auditorium Shores to reopen late Thursday afternoon with a free show that promised to draw thousands for twilight headliner Spoon. Quite a few concertgoers already had arrived when local rock group My Jerusalem took the stage at 5 p.m. to christen the grounds, which no longer have the slightly terraced gradations that previously stretched back toward Riverside Drive.
More shows are scheduled at Auditorium Shores this weekend, with a Friday bill featuring Americana headliners Ryan Bingham and Luther Dickinson and a Saturday lineup that spotlights rock band the BoDeans and others in the afternoon followed by an early-evening Latin lineup featuring Intocable and Bomba Estereo.
Just behind the stage, near the gazebo that has long stood in the shadow of the First Street bridge, dozens of South by Southwest staffers gathered with family and friends of the late SXSW creative director Brent Grulke for the dedication of a new plaza named in his honor. City Council and Parks and Recreation officials gave the green light for the plaza to honor Grulke, who died of a heart attack in 2012, after an administrative process that took about a year and a half, SXSW’s Mike Shea said.
“He certainly left us too soon, but at least we had him,” SXSW managing director Roland Swenson said in a short welcome. “And now we have something to remember him by.” Grulke’s wife, Kristen Brock Grulke, added that the location adjacent to the reopened concert grounds was special because “he was so proud of these free shows at Auditorium Shores.”
An unrelated but amusing side note: On his way over to the dedication ceremony, Brad Grulke, Brent’s brother, spotted Lyle Lovett singing and playing guitar with a small video and sound crew in front of the Willie Nelson statue at ACL Live. It’s unclear what the purpose of the shoot was, but a small handful of onlookers gathered around for the surprise pop-up performance.