While San Francisco gets most of the credit for being the ultimate concert poster city, there are a few other cities where the art form is heavily present. Over the years there have been poster scenes in L.A., Detroit, cities in the Pacific Northwest, and Austin, Texas. Austin in particular is very important to the history of concert posters, from the 1960s to the present day. Here’s why you should not overlook posters from Texas.
The Vulcan Gas Company
The Vulcan Gas Company opened in Austin Texas in 1967. It was the city’s first successful psychedelic music venue. It remained open until the summer of 1970. The venue hosted some of the greatest acts of the time during its short history, including the 13th Floor Elevators, Velvet Underground, and Muddy Waters. Local authorities were not very fond of the Vulcan Gas Company. Texas was quite conservative, and the psychedelic music scene was anything but. As a result, the venue’s advertisements were banned from a local newspaper. Show promoters turned to posters to overcome this.
The psychedelic posters designed for the Vulcan Gas Company are cataloged in Eric King’s book by Dennis Hickey with the designation “VG”. In many ways, they are similar in style to the posters that were coming out of San Francisco. However, many of them are much larger, measuring 23×28″. These were big and colorful enough to gain attention from Austin’s budding counterculture and helped draw crowds to the Vulcan Gas Company. Due to cost, handbills were printed more often than posters later on. Both posters and handbills from shows at the Vulcan Gas Company are quite rare. They were printed in smaller quantities than the posters coming out of San Francisco at the time. Additionally, there are no authorized reprints of the material. Currently, these posters will go for around $1,000-$3,000 at auction. Handbills often go for a few hundred bucks.
Armadillo World Headquarters
When the Vulcan Gas Company closed in 1970, Eddie Wilson decided to open the Armadillo World Headquarters. Wilson was the manager of the local psychedelic band Shiva’s Headband. The venue quickly became popular with the hippie crowd in Austin. This venue received more acceptance from local authorities. Multiple incredible artists graced its stage, such as Frank Zappa, The Clash, and ACDC. The club remained open until 1980.
The posters designed for Armadillo World Headquarters were unique. Many were pen and ink drawings of band members. They were certainly different from the other psychedelic posters being designed at the time. These posters are not yet officially cataloged, but they are, however, still collected. A nice collection of these poster images can be found in Eddie Wilson’s book about the legendary venue. Armadillo World Headquarters posters typically go for between $100 and $2,000 at auction, but they are sure to increase in value in the near future.
Modern Posters from Austin
A wide variety of poster art has also come out of Austin Texas. In the mid-1980s, Frank Kozik began designing flyers for the city’s underground punk scene. Later, he went on to produce countless full-sized screenprints. Kozik is often credited with “reviving” the art of concert posters, and his work is widely recognized and valued by collectors. Other modern poster artists including Lindsey Kuhn, Jason Austin, and Lyman Hardy also got their start in Austin.
Austin is definitely a quintessential poster town with a rich music and art history. I’d definitely recommend adding a few of these posters to your collection.