Like many teenagers, promoter Andrew Blank spent his summers working for his dad to earn some cash. Unlike most teenagers however, Blank was flipping burgers at the venue his father owned, the original Backyard in Austin.
“It was this 5,000-cap outdoor amphitheater that sat behind a restaurant just tucked into the Austin hill country,” Blank told Amplify. “It had a 700 year-old live oak that sat in the middle of the venue and was a big staple of the place. They would do a summer concert series there every year.”
Blank said it was a blast for a high school student to be around that environment with the live music, cooking up food for drunk patrons, and helping caterers prepare meals for the likes of Willie Nelson.
“I consider myself pretty lucky on how I got into the music industry. I got to see how a venue was run while I was still in high school,” Blank said.
When he left to attend the University of Texas, he had no desire to delve further into the music industry.
“I don’t think that I had that real passion for music yet,” Blank said. “The fact that I was around it so much at that point in time and it was part of my family life, it wasn’t this impressive thing. It was just part of life. It took me being away from it to appreciate it.”
It took a truly inspirational Phish show (read about it below) for him to refocus his efforts on music and leverage what relationships he could from his time at the Backyard. While at the Backyard, Blank had worked with all three of the “C”s that currently make up C3 Presents (Charles Attal, Charlie Walker, and Charles Jones) in different capacities.
Blank went to work for the then Charles Attal Presents on the venue side of the industry in Cincinnati for a while. Itching to get back to Austin, Blank jumped at the chance to work with Houston Powell on the growing casino division.
“I really think that C3, Houston, and I changed the paradigm of casino booking. At the time, all the casinos were going with comp-driven shows where they were sending out tickets to their gamers. It was all older-focused stuff for 55 plus year-old consumers,” Blank said.
“They were trying to get in new customers in a younger demographic. That;s where Charles Attal Presents was brought in. We went out and started booking more contemporary, more relevant acts,” Blank said. “Through that process they realized they could actually sell tickets to these shows and still be able to put out comps. We kind of set up that model and that’s when our casino division exploded. All of a sudden casinos don’t just have to rely on gaming revenue.”
Now as a promoter for the casino and corporate division, Blank works with some of the biggest names in the gaming industry including Caesars Entertainment, The Cosmopolitan, Mystic Lake, and Affinity Gaming and does it all from his hometown. We caught up with Blank to learn about that influential Phish show and his four other favorites.
Phish New Years Ever Millennium at Big Cypress in Florida
Dec. 31, 1999
This is ‘the show.’ It is still my favorite show to date while being the catalyst for getting into the music industry. We drove from Austin to South Florida and back in an RV. I’m still not sure how we didn’t kill ourselves along the way. My favorite moment was standing, after over seven hours of music, with the sunrise coming up and the band playing “Wading in the Velvet Sea.” I had a true epiphany at that show and came back to university and changed my major and focus to the music business.
Jay-Z & Coldplay at Cosmopolitan Grand Opening in Las Vegas
Dec. 31, 2010
This is, by far, my favorite shows that I have ever worked. We basically turned the Cosmopolitan into a mini-festival for New Years Eve. We had Mayer Hawthorne on a small stage on the casino floor. We had Florence + The Machine on a different stage. Ben Folds played a dinner. Mavis Staples played a brunch show on their pool deck. Coldplay and Jay-Z closed out the night. Jay-Z brought out Kanye and Beyonce for a few songs too. The capacity was only 3,500 people. It was an incredible night.
Lollapalooza in Chicago
Aug. 1-3, 2008
This was my favorite festival lineup to date. Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Kanye, Nine Inch Nails, Black Keys and Raconteurs headlined. I remember giving myself a minor panic attack trying to see as many sets as I could that year.
Wilco with My Morning Jacket at Palace Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky
June 30, 2005
This was an absolutely incredible theatre show. This was the last show of the tour in My Morning Jacket’s hometown. Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy gave a speech at the end of the show talking about battling his demons and then he started crying. It felt like the entire crowd was crying too. Still gives me chills just thinking about it.
Phish at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe Hotel & Casino in Nevada
July 31, 2013
This is the show where my two worlds collided. My favorite band played one of the casinos that I work for. Harvey’s is an amazing place to go see a show in the summer. I spent the day on the lake with some of my best friends then headed to a show that was highlighted by the infamous 36+ minute song “Tahoe Tweezer!” I have since seen over 150 Phish shows.