Having lived in Austin, Texas for the majority of my life I have become quite acquainted with our largest indoor arena, the Frank Erwin Center. I have seen everything from basketball games to concerts at the Frank Erwin Center; I even proposed to my wife at a John Mayer concert back in 2010. I have sat in almost every area of the venue and you might be surprised to hear which seats gave me the best experience during my time in the audience at the Erwin Center.
Before you get into the Frank Erwin Center you have to find a place to park, but don’t worry because there are plenty of garages within an easy walking distance. The closest non-reserved lots are on Red River and are literally right next to the venue, but get there early if you want any chance at snagging a spot before the crowd shows up. The rest of the parking garages surrounding the Frank Erwin Center are all approximately the same distance with the exception of a few that are more south on Trinity. The majority of the parking is between San Jacinto and Trinity. These two roads run parallel to each other creating block after block of parking garages. There are also some parking garages on the University of Texas campus at Red River and Robert Dedman Drive that can be used as well. Prices to all the garages vary but offer a much better alternative to calculating how much money you need to give the pay-to-park meter in hopes that you’ll be back before the time expires…because it will expire.
The first concert I went to at the Frank Erwin Center was Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers in 1999. The show was a part of their Echo Tour and I was far too young to get 80% of the undertone in all of their songs but I loved the music. The only thing I can accurately recall from our seats is that we were not at the top but the floor was not in front of us which leads me to believe we were in the arena seating. I was 13 at the time but I can remember being able to see Tom Petty fairly well. I wouldn’t say they were the best seats I’ve had but they were not the worst either.
Another concert that is a bit fuzzy in my memory is Shania Twain. I do remember being on the floor but in the second to last row in the first section. I was young so seeing over 6 foot plus people was a much larger task than it is now. My recommendation for floor seating is to go big or get in the telescoping risers. If you’re not in the first ten or so rows of each of the floor sections visual acuity will become somewhat of a challenge due to the lack of elevation. The risers however offer the perfect elevation per row and are a great spot to enjoy the show from. I caught the John Mayer show from the section 43 arena risers and could see everything pretty vividly. Though the seats were good enough for a proposal to my wife, they were not my favorite.
My most recent trip to the Erwin Center was March of 2013 to see Eric Clapton and the Wallflowers. I took my brother-in-law and we sat in the arena level’s section 34. In looking at the map you might think that a spot all the way on the right side of the stage is the least compelling of all. I did too until I saw the show from that perspective. I know that this is almost 100% opinion but for me being able to see the entire band interact was one of the best concert experiences I have had and will lead me to get more seats on the side of stages. The view from the arena level provides enough clarity to see the performance and not have to decipher little fuzzy people to tell who you are watching. Sitting on the side of the stage versus sitting directly in front of the stage allows you to view the stage with depth and the ability to catch all the interactions between the bands set. I would agree that this will vary depending on the show but if you ever get a chance to catch a show from stage side I would still recommend it.
I’ve had many memories at Frank Erwin Center and am excited to continue to make more. There are tons of good acts coming through Austin in the next couple of months including Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney & Bruno Mars and now you know where the best seat in the house is.