And now, the weather
Welcome to Night Vale podcast reunites with Austin artist from its early days for live show
Austin might fancy itself familiar with desert towns, but there's something strange about the folks visiting on January 9.
Welcome to Night Vale, a longtime podcast delivered as monologue-heavy radio show, follows the happenings of a fictional desert town called Night Vale, where strange and unsettling things are always underway. Host Cecil Palmer — played by Cecil Baldwin — is seldom perturbed.
Watch out for strange things at the Paramount Theatre as the cast rolls through Austin for one night only. They're putting on a show called The Attic, a live spinoff that follows a personal revelation for Cecil:
"Cecil discovers slides from an old family road trip, which at first seem fun and joyful but begin to change into something strange and dangerous," the official description relays. "This show tells a tale of childhood memories warping through the lens of a cursed slide projection, a shapeshifting creepy doll and, of course, the 'normal' dispatches from Night Vale’s community radio station."
Fans of the faux radiocast know that although Baldwin has perfected the ominous voice — and everything about the story is at least a little wrong — the whimsical writing keeps things from getting too dark. ("New year, new you," wrote the podcast on X recently. "Please have the old you out of your house by noon today to make room for the new one.")
This isn't a years-long horror story, but an affable traipse through a bewildering and violent place. Layers of irony and abstraction prevail: Each week's "weather" is delivered in the form of a seemingly random song, played all the way through.
The evening's events will be delivered by Baldwin and Night Vale recap show co-host Symphony Sanders. They'll be joined by surprise guests, including a musical guest, and the podcast's house band from the beginning, Disparition — for ambient scoring throughout the show.
Austin's musical guest is Danny Schmidt, who hails from the Live Music Capital. Schmidt is not new to Night Vale; His introspective, folksy song "This Too Shall Pass" was the weather in Welcome to Night Vale's eighth episode, on October 1, 2012. (Now it's up to 240, not counting special episodes.)
This track was a perfect choice for the budding cult favorite podcast. The song's rambling sincerity — poetic, yet sometimes bordering on crude — presents a comforting fatalism that residents of the chaotic, impassable town would surely relate to.
One stanza in the non-repeating, chorus-less song goes:
Don’t ask God, just holler at the sky
Cause she’ll tell it to you plainly in the clouds that whisper by
And praise the shapes, and then praise the way they change
And they’ll teach you not to pray to light without you pray to rain
Schmidt's songs were featured in four more weather segments over the years, sometimes with fellow Austin folk artist Carrie Elkin. After the Austin show, Schmidt will travel to Tucson, Arizona; Los Angeles, California; San Francisco, California; Sacramento, California; Eugene, Oregon; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington.
On the next leg of the tour, Al Olender takes over. It does not appear that Olender has been featured on the weather until episode 234, "The Boy," from September 15, 2023. "If you wished upon a star you would vaporize instantly, due to the intense heat on its surface," deadpans the opening of the episode. "Welcome to Night Vale."
Aside from the unmistakeable tone and some familiar characters, The Attic stands on its own. The plot does not require any further understanding of Welcome to Night Vale, and it would be enjoyable to any audience member who can appreciate a good one-liner.
Tickets for The Attic on January 9 at 8pm are available at austintheatre.org. An FAQ says shows are written for all ages, so children are welcome. However, younger children may get bored, as ideas and language tend to be complex.