Confession time: Weekend One of Austin City Limits Music Festival was my first ever. As a newborn at the event, I attempted to absorb as much as possible from three days of crowds, sun and mind-blowing music. Not only did I walk away with a greater appreciation for one of Austin’s most anticipated concerts, but I was re-invigorated by our community’s love for live music.
Here are 20 things I learned during Weekend One of Austin City Limits Music Festival. Maybe you’ll make similar discoveries during Weekend Two. Most of all, I hope you’ll have a memorable experience that’s uniquely your own.
1/ Investing in a Camelback is vitally important for surviving Austin’s 90 degree fall weather.
2/ Austin Kiddie Limits is adorable.
When my four month old attends ACL Fest next year (because he’ll be one and that’s so happening), he’ll love it.
3/ Sunsets over Zilker Park are stunning.
Especially after rain clouds and when it’s the backdrop for massive stages and throngs of people.
4/ Teenagers turn into rabid animals when exposed to dance music.
I’m talking wet Gremlins crazy.
5/ Local Austin bands make arriving early an absolute treat.
From Matt the Electrician’s charming folk to Shane Smith’s driving bluegrass to Wild Child’s exuberant energy, Austin music was well-represented during Weekend One.
6/ The craft beer tent pavilion barn wooden warehouse was pricey, but worth the extra dollar for quality, local brew.
7/ Shade is plentiful, but you have to arrive early to enjoy it.
8/ There’s more to ACL Fest than music.
From ACL Cares and the art market, to an autograph signing area and a gaming hall, there’s plenty for everyone to do between music sets.
9/ If you’re not eating well, then you’re probably not eating.
ACL Eats brings together dozens of food trucks and eateries.
10/ No matter how many great bands are playing around them, Texans will always gather to watch football.
11/ There are three methods of listening to ACL Fest music:
- Hang out at a stage for four hours to get the best spot for the band you’re really there to see.
- Create a mini-camp of lawn chairs between two stages.
- Wander about aimlessly, catching a couple of songs per set.
12/ I gravitated to option #3.
Walking the festival is like tuning through stations on an old-time radio. Sounds, styles and genres crossfade together, creating a tapestry of sonic beauty. I felt like I was walking through a DJ’s mixtape, and it was fantastic.
13/ Flags, balloons, signs on fishing poles and dancing skeletons are the only ways your group will be able to find each other in the crowd of thousands.
14/ ACL Fest is family-friendly.
Just give your little one a set of noise-dampening head phones and let them hang with the grown-ups.
15/ Somehow, walking among 70,000 people doesn’t feel like drowning in a sea of humanity.
16/ The smallest stage (Tito’s) was one of my favorites.
The covered area not only provides relief from the heat, but gives lesser-known bands a chance to play to a larger audience. Never underestimate the power of shade.
17/ Hippies, rockers, 50 year old couples and UT freshman all peacefully co-exist in a park that is occasionally too hot, too crowded and too noisy. But always fun.
18/ For all the grief it gets for corporate sponsors, noise and snagging two weekends of our best weather, Austin City Limits Music Festival represents what our fair city is all about.
An event where over 100 bands play on eight stages for 70,000 people, and live music rules over all.
19/ You’ll always discover one band you’ll follow forever.
I found three.
20/ ACL will remind you that music is magic.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
What’s your favorite Austin City Limits Music Festival memory?