Tuesday, September 19, 2006

ACL 101

this past wknd i experienced my very first ACL festival here in austin. the city was complete madness, much like it was back in march when i moved here during SXSW. throngs of people (mostly musicians were who were rocking the trendy grunge look with their legions of devoted and equally grungy-looking fans). true to jennifer form, i had waited until the very last minute to decide whether or not i wanted to go, finally buying a 3-day pass from a co-worker on the first day of the festival (friday).

and so i went, nalgene bottle surreptitiously stashed at the bottom of my backpack beneath my folded blanket and printed-out band schedule in-hand. day #1 was my favorite line-up by far. although an unexpectedly stressful day at work caused me to miss both guster (supposedly they played both "4, 3, 2, 1...." and "either waaaa-yyyyeeeee") and gnarls barkley, i was able to catch a bit of thievery corporation, ray lamontagne (amazing despite his strong resemblance to jesus christ. i was sincerely concerned that his large beard may have been harboring small animals and/or decomposing food items), john mayer (am not a fan of the floppy hair), and van morrison (they totally played brown-eyed girl). i had made the wise decision to go in the not-nearly-as-sweltering evening-time, and i have to say that it was quite nice to sit there in the warm, breezy evening with a great view of the downtown austin skyline.

day #2 was a somewhat less-inspired line-up, but i still had a good time. i saw a band called iron & wine (more jesus-esque beards) and then a lot of willie nelson (who was surprisingly awesome. he is a total bad-ass for his age. and endearingly funny onstage). sunday i pretty much punked out b/c the weather was crappy and i was tired, so i missed out on the main closing act (tom petty) as well as damien marley (who i legitimatedly wanted to see, but he was on at 2:30 in the afternoon -- hottest part of the day).

what was most surprising was how... well-behaved everyone was. sure, people were stepping over each other and almost everyone was drinking, but people were relatively polite and the event itself was very well-organized and civil without being obnoxiously so. i guess that's the laid-back austin vibe for you?

so, for any of you who may be interested in attending ACL at any time in the future, here are my key lessons learned:
1) go in the evening. you will avoid the sweaty masses melting underneath the fierce texas sun and you will be able to last much longer.
2) ride your bike. walking for 40 minutes in huge crowds of people is not fun, and waiting in long shuttle lines is even worse. riding your bike gets you in and out of the festival efficiently and faster than those lame walkers.
3) buy the 3-day pass. this means you can come and go at your leisure instead of being stuck in the grounds the entire time.
4) bring a chair and/or blanket. my $5 collapsible chair was quite effective in keeping me both comfortable and off the ground.

with those pearls of wisdom i leave you all for a week-long business trip. auf wiedersehn!


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