One Day At Austin City Limits Music Festival

Wow, how fast time has flown by. It seems like just yesterday I was standing in the middle of a field at Zilker Park in Austin marveling at all that was laid out before me. Thousands of people streaming in. Stages in every corner (and even a few nooks and crannies) of the great lawn. (About eight of them as I recall.) A giant picture frame where people were lining up to have their picture taken with the main (aka the Samsung) stage and the (ever growing) Austin skyline as the backdrop. A giant beer tent that itself could fit about a thousand people. And on and on. These were my first thoughts as I prepared to spend a day (yes only one but you could do three) at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Or as everyone calls it, ACL.

ACL is the mother of all music festivals in Austin. Each weekend spans three days, Friday thru Sunday, usually in the first half of October when the weather has cooled down...a little bit. The second weekend was added a few years back and for the most part the big acts play each weekend. Although the two weekend approach was meant to relieve the crush of people swarming Austin for the event and also cut down on a thriving after market for tickets most people I talk to seem to think that this approach has instead doubled the frenzy. Oh well.

My decision to go over there was a last minute one. I live just a short bus ride (or a long walk) away from Barton Springs Rd. so I wouldn't need to worry about traffic or parking. Plus I checked the weather forecast for the second weekend and it look solid, if a little hot to spend an entire day and night outside. Finally, the big draw for me was the Foo Fighters headlining on Friday night. I bought the first Foo Fighters CD when it was released (about 20 yrs ago!) and have been a fan of their emotionally charged rock ever since. 

Of course, while there I took photos. Lots of them. And a bunch of videos. I shared a bunch on my Instagram (@knowatx) so do head over there and scroll through my feed to see even more than I've shared here. But here the resolution is higher and you don't have to squint. So everyone wins! Anyhow, I'll do my best to tell the story of the day via the captions to the images below. (Mouse over the photos to see the captions.) Check the other side of the gallery for some final thoughts...and a video or two!

All in all it was an excellent, if not a very tiring day. I would definitely do it again for one day but still am not sure about three. It was nice to wake up the next morning and not feel the pressure to rush out for a full day and night. That said, thousands of people do it. By way of being helpful I'll share a list of things I brought along (besides my camera) that I thought were helpful to have.

  • A small shoulder bag or backpack to hold those few necessities you should bring.
  • Baby wipes, which are great for cleaning the face and hands after scarfing down tacos.
  • An empty water bottle to refill at the filling stations.
  • A hat and sunscreen for sun protection because even if it's cloudy you may get burned. That aside the hat can keep the heat of the sun off your face. Sunglasses too!
  • A small, foldable poncho. Like, really small. They're great for spreading out in case it's either wet or you don't want to get grass stains on your clothes (because you might go out after).
  • An external phone battery. Of course I was uploading photos during my free moments. That and texting (when you have service) will drain most phone batteries by the evening.
  • Gum!
  • Comfortable shoes because you will be doing epic amounts of walking and standing.
  • Patience and good vibes.

Earlier I had also mentioned a video or two so here goes. Below check out Billy Idol performing a bit of Rebel Yell (excuse the shakiness, it was crazy!) and go to this link - https://knowatx.smugmug.com/Pages/ACL-Videos - to see clips from many of the artists I watched perform that day. Trust me when I tell you that you won't be sorry you did. Some great clips there.