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Southeast Austin residents call for sound ordinance change after concert shakes their homes into morning hours

The Concourse Project concert venue is located right outside city limits, which means it has loosened sound restrictions.

AUSTIN, Texas — People living in southeast Austin want to see sound ordinance changes after they said loud music from a concert venue outside the city limits shook their homes until the morning.

Noise is common in the active southeast Austin neighborhood, but throughout the weekend, the Seismic Dance Event music festival was shaking more than its own roof. 

"Quite literally, my picture frame was vibrating against the side of my wall," said Colorado Crossing neighborhood resident Katon Claborn.

The Concourse Project concert venue is almost two miles away from the Colorado Crossing neighborhood.

"It felt like it was a really loud – really loud – out-of-control next-door-neighbor house party," said resident Justin Mitchell.

Joe Hamilton said the thumping from the newly reopened venue didn't stop until 5 a.m. on Monday. 

"I had to get my kid up to go to school this morning," said Hamilton. "He's a sixth-grader. He was falling apart. He could barely get his little self out of bed. I'm exhausted and I feel, like, slightly delirious." 

"I talked to the commissioner's office and they said they've been getting calls nonstop since 1:30 this morning," said Claborn. 

The County can't do much about it because the venue is located outside of city limits. A Travis County spokesperson said the venue has to abide by state rules, which don't give a cutoff time for loud noise. Instead, the noise can't exceed a level of 85 decibels. According to Chapter 42 of The Texas Penal Code, the venue could face a misdemeanor charge if it exceeds the decibel limit after a warning from authorities.

"We're all OK with people having fun, but not to the extent that it damages somebody else's existence," said Claborn. 

The Travis County Fire Marshals were at the event monitoring noise levels throughout the day from Friday through Sunday. Here's what they found:

  • Friday: A measurement came back at 81 dBA, which is lower than the State’s 85 threshold. The Fire Marshal still asked the venue to turn down the music and the venue complied. 
  • Saturday: A measurement came back at 90 dBA, exceeding the 85 threshold. The Fire Marshal requested the venue to turn the music down and the venue complied. Later that same night, just after midnight, a measurement came back at 81 dBA. Although it too was lower than 85, a request was still made to turn it down and the venue complied. 
  • Sunday: Measurements were under 80. Sound readings that came back from the Addison community ranged from 48 to 53.

The area's commissioner, Margaret Gomez, said it's up to the residents to settle this dispute with the venue. 

"That's what I hope comes out of this is, that more of these venues don't continue to pop up and take advantage of this scenario," said Claborn. "I think that would be my worst nightmare."

A petition was created to ask the state, city and county leaders to change the ordinance rules in the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) area to reflect the population.

The Concourse Project is set to host its next concert Saturday night. A statement from the Seismic event organizers said:

"Seismic Dance Event and The Concourse Project worked hand in hand with local authorities to ensure a safe event with as low of an impact as possible on its surrounding area. Travis County Fire Marshals were onsite for all operating festival hours regularly monitoring sound levels to ensure the event was in compliance with decibel levels granted in its permit. The event is a special outdoor festival at The Concourse Project and not a reflection of the venue's typical programming and noise levels. Seismic Dance Event organizers are committed to making continual improvements to their noise mitigation strategy for future editions."


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