The first time I went was 2008 when dust filled our lungs and our hearts swayed to Foo Fighters. The second time (aka last time) I went was 2009, year of the mud fest and glorious VIP status. We didn't attend while living in Dallas, so returning this year was almost no question.
Per normal with time and living in Texas, everything has gotten bigger and (debatably) better, including the fact that it happens over two weekends now (I attended the first weekend). Yes, there is an argument that ACL is losing (or has lost) its roots and is changing face (and sound), and while I agree with a lot of points made, like how incredibly more packed it seemed, and that a lot of things are different, even in the short span of 5 years, it doesn't change the fact that I still got to spend 3 full days listening to a plethora of amazing bands right in the heart of Austin.
This time for me was very different. (A) I actually had to pay for my wristband, sigh. (B) I actually researched bands I didn't know ahead of time and strategically planned out my schedule. (C) I mainly (and voluntarily) navigated the weekend solo. All in one weekend I saw Spoon, St. Vincent, J. Roddy and the Business, Paulo Nutini, Kongos, Fitz and the Tantrums, Chromeo, Beck, Outkast, Eminem, Pearl Jam and a dozen or two more that I'm either not thinking of or don't remember the names of.
|Fitz and the Tantrums|
|Phantogram (from my Spoon stake-out)|
I must say, the bands I thought were best were typically the ones I went up close for and spent the full set with, like Chromeo. On the occasion I split my time between two bands, and it really affected the entertainment value. It was so hard though. There were so many amazing artists and bands that I saw, yet so many more that I didn't see. And reading and watching official ACL performance recaps made me sad that I couldn't see everyone. As exhausted as I was when the weekend ended, I was a bit envious of those who were hitting up round 2. Weekend 1 was "Kendra's wish list"of music. Weekend 2 would have been a lineup of those I couldn't squeeze in and top picks based on reviews. Makes '08 and '09 seem really nice, when I minimally knew what I was doing and mainly just tagged along to shows with my (now husband) boyfriend :)
Can't forget all the other fabulous things about ACL: the Austin eateries, art, interactive exhibits, the craft beer hall, personalized flags, etc.
That's ok, though. Again, I felt very fortunate to be able to attend and felt like I got more than enough bang for my buck. And if you're curious, yes, I plan on being back for 2015.
Lastly, here are a few of my personal ACL tips:
- Don't wear shoes, jewelry or clothes you really care about.
- Don't use the port-a-potties next to an act in progress (and always pay attention to how many stalls are being leveraged per line, like 1 vs. 3).
- Bring an empty water bottle to fill at the water stations, and make sure to drink plenty of water.
- Wear comfy shoes or ones that you know won't give you blisters (day 1 blisters = nightmare).
- If you have a group and wanna take it easy, bring a sheet or blanket and some chairs and set up a camp.
- Bike there if you're able.
- Wear sunscreen.
- Bring a mini backpack (easier to carry than a purse), and buy it in advance before places sell out (you're not the only genius out buying a backpack).
- Turn off your your data push services so your cell phone battery doesn't drain at the blink of an eye.
- Make sure your phone has "roomy" memory because photos and videos can quickly suck it up.
- Bring cash if you feel responsible enough to keep up with it. Cash lines are always faster.
- Eat earlier than later because food lines quickly stack up.
- Plan some breaks in your schedule (optional ones at a minimum). You'll need 'em.
- Fill up a bag of recyclables to get a free ACL t-shirt.
I'm sure I left some out or some may beg to differ on a few. If you have anything else to add, please leave a comment. Until next year!