Two weekends ago was Austin City Limits weekend 2. It was also the weekend leading into my birthday which is clearly a much bigger deal. So my birthday present to myself was a trip to ACL with Caitlin. This was my first music festival outside of 35 Denton, which really isn’t much of a music festival. I hate people, I hate crowds, I hate drunk people and I don’t particularly like live music because you run such a high chance of the band being awful live. But this ACL had about 12 bands that I wanted to see, so this was going to be a weekend of me working on some personal issues for the experience. $250 dollars to see Foo Fighters, Florence and the Machine, Drake, Halsey, Hozier and then some seemed worth it.
Friday Day 1:
Originally, we planned to leave Thursday night, but things changed and we decided to leave bright and early Friday morning. I mean on the road, bagels in hand, starting at 7 AM. I will admit, it was the best drive I’ve ever experienced. We were early enough to beat the Dallas traffic and just late enough to miss the Austin traffic. Three hours flat to get there.
We arrived at her friend’s house, who were graciously letting us stay in their guest room for free, a little after 10 AM. We changed, packed the backpack, figured out where the shuttles were picking up and hit the road. The shuttles pick up at Guadeloupe and 4th and we parked at Guadeloupe and 15th. About a mile away. We decided that the best thing to do was to eat as much as possible before we got to ACL to limit the amount of money we spent in the gates. So we walked a mile in the opposite direction to Torchy’s Tacos. Delicious Torchy’s Tacos.
I got the Trailer Park, classic, and the Green Chili Pork – Missionary Style. What is missionary style? If you look on the depths of the internet you could probably find Torchy’s secret menu. Missionary style is a flour tortilla, cheese, fried corn tortilla, green chili pork, pickled onions, guac, and cilantro. It’s massive, it’s enough to eat on it’s own, and it’s the best.
After porking out we walked back to the starting point and then to the buses. So basically, before ACL even started we walked a 5K. These shuttles are the best, you don’t have to worry about parking or traffic near the event and they run constantly. If you go, unless you are within walking distance of the park, take the buses!
The only thing we ate at ACL were these queso waffle fries from one of the stands. I should have been paying more attention from where I got them, but I was looking at price, what food I was getting and the line. Those were the decisions that played into anything I ate within those fences.
Saturday Day 2:
We learned some lessons from the day before. 1. Get a blanket, we were sitting on my jacket all day. 2. Give less fucks about appearance. 3. Find a spot between two stages and never leave it. We hit Target and got ourselves a kickass How To Train Your Dragon blanket and some protein bars we snuck in because no outside food or drinks. Although you can bring in empty water bottles, there are free water filling stations throughout the grounds. Down side is the water is warm. So if you want cold water, either bring in a frozen, unopened water bottle (allowed) or get ready to spend $2 on a cold can of water. Or skip the water altogether and spend $8 on beer.
Saturday was packed. So many people. Literally a sea of people at all times. Thankfully, most of the bands we wanted to see switched between two stages right next to each other, so we didn’t have to move much. We started with Father John Misty, who actually interrupted his set to yell at a guy that was leaving his show. Look Father John, you don’t know that guy’s life. How ’bout you leave him alone. Sturgill Simpson, good at what he does, I don’t like country music so it wasn’t my thing. Twenty Ont Pilots. Although I know I heard them, I remember nothing of their show. Either heat stroke set in for that hour, or they weren’t that great.Walk the Moon which were surprisingly wonderful. They put on an entertaining show, especially since they started their set with the opening song from the Lion King. Modest Mouse. This was annoying. Nothing to do with Modest Mouse, but I was more focused on the throngs of people that felt it was 100% OK to literally step over my body like I wasn’t sitting on this blanket for the last 4 hours.
TV on the Radio. Again, don’t remember. Bassnectar. Funny story, when we were getting on the shuttles to go home the night before we thought for a brief moment that the guy in front of us projectile vomited everywhere but it ended up just being some overly shaken-up carbonated water. We ended up coincidentally following the guy on our way to the car. Eventually, we were joking that we were following him and he told us that he got extra tickets to VIP Bassnectar and to find him and he’d give them to us. Yeah, sure, I’ll be able to find you, random guy, in a crowd of God only knows how many. So no, we didn’t get VIP tickets to Bassnectar but it would have probably been cool.
Last, and least, Drake. He. Was. Awful. Awful! Such a disappointment. Most of what we stayed for was just his tracks playing and him not doing much of anything. He occasionally rapped, but mainly he just walked around the stage yelling “AUSTIN!” and posing. That was it. Also, whomever was in-charge of his sound system needs to get fired because you couldn’t really hear him as well as the other bands that were playing.
Sunday Day 3:
This was our last day. It was expected to be the hottest day. It also had the most bands that I was interested in seeing. So this was the day. We started off at Kerby Lane, because it’s not a trip to Austin without a trip to Kerby Lane. I ordered the Crispy Chicken Benedict which is a biscuit, crispy chicken, poached egg, hollandaise sauce, green chili sauce and citrus-marinated onions. I didn’t care for the onions but I did care for everything else.
We got to ACL, final day, and they were brutal at checking bags for some reason. I mean, “dump all the contents of your bag on this table and if I find anything you can’t have I’m going to throw it in this box” brutal. And that’s where the remainder of our protein bars lived. In the trash box. What a waste. We found our spot, this time in front of a bunch of chairs and tents to limit the amount of foot traffic that would come our way and got ready to listen to bands all day.
Amason, Lord Huron, Halsey, Ben Howard, Of Monsters and Men, Hozier, and last but not least Florence and the Machine. Most of the bands on Sunday were amazing. Halsey was one I was excited for but she cut her set list 20 minutes short and that pissed me off. I know you had songs to fill that 20 minutes because you only sang 2 songs that I know. That was bullshit Halsey. Ben Howard‘s band was great but he was not. He needed to move away from the mic and annunciation more. Hozier was the surprising underdog. I actually ended up really enjoying his music, it’s a little eclectic, and he put on a phenomenal show. I was pleasantly surprised. Florence and the Machine was AMAZING! Of course she would be. It was a sad sad moment when we had to leave. We needed to drive back that night so we wanted to be on the road by 10:30 PM which meant we needed to leave at 9:30 PM to get in line for the shuttle and walk back to the car.
All-in-all it was a fantastic time. It was long, hot, and exhausting but fun. From Friday to Sunday the amount of fucks I gave went to zero about how cute I looked. I went from wearing full makeup and cute outfit to trucker hat, sports bra, shorts undone and rolled down and walking around like “Yep Austin. This is me. Enjoy it!” Would I go through another ACL again? Probably not, unless it was just an amazing lineup like this one. But I agree that everyone should experience a music festival at least once.