Austin City Limits is a mix of music’s finest, with artist styles ranging from EDM and rap to rock and folk. It has played a fundamental part in turning Austin into the Live Music Capital of the World. Ever since the beginning of my time at the University of Texas at Austin, friends, family and even complete strangers ask if I’ve gone to ACL.
By Aiden Park
Before this year’s first festival weekend, attending ACL was another uncrossed item on my Austin bucket list. I was determined to change that, purchasing a ticket for Friday. With Radiohead headlining on night one, I was more than ready. Here’s how it went down.
The night before ACL, I realized I didn’t have an outfit selected. The festival kind of snuck up on me, so I frantically searched “guys wear, ACL” on Google. To my dismay, just about every search result featured women’s clothing. I finally found a picture of an impossibly cool guy with chinos and a button down on. Since a music festival-ready outfit didn’t magically materialize for me already, I’m going with it and laid out my feeble attempt at a stylist get-up, ready for the following day, full of intense music consumption.
The day of ACL
I get out of class and rush back to my apartment to get my wristband. I wore my outfit I'm going to wear to ACL to class and i am already having major doubts about it. My pants and short sleeved button down with a cute lil’ bicycle pattern doesn’t feel “music festival” enough and I’m already hot just walking home. Alas, there’s not time to waste and the price for ~fashion~ is always a costly one.
Finally on the bus to ACL! I know I already have a back sweat stain the size of Zilker Park because of my backpack but it's worth it. I packed the essentials: chapstick, an extra pair of sunglasses, an iPhone charger (I heard there are outlets !), and two refillable water bottles.
The lines for the entrance are as long as the Great Wall of China.
Deep vibrating bass and flash tattoos abound, ACL spirit is in the air.
So the lines actually don’t take that long. Now that I’m in, my senses are overwhelmed. Spread throughout Zilker are stages, set up like a sampling platter. People are tightly crowded at the front of each stage, while the viewers at the back enjoy a little more elbow room.
here is a lot more green space than I expected. Going into ACL I thought I would be a sardine the whole time, but there’s enough room to even do a handstand. So I do!
I know this place is gonna get a lot more crowded, but first things first: food.
I'm overwhelmed by how many food options there are. My eyes shoot back and forth from burgers to pizza to bbq. My stomach tickles with anticipation.
So I get a Hat Creek burger. It was okay but I totally could have done better tbh.
We’re on our way to the first concert - The Front Bottoms. I’ve never heard of them but my “try anything” spirit is strong so I jump head first into new music.
This is also the first time I've felt the power of the crowd. So many colors, pit stains, happy, sweaty faces, all in front of the greenery of Zilker. Hold up I have to Snapchat it.
I'm definitely not wearing pants to an outdoor festival ever again. The only reprieve is the small sighs of breeze that occasionally bless my body and they’re really rare.
*Celebrity update* I think I see Jake T. Austin in the crowd and seriously almost “accidentally” knock his sunglasses off to see if I’m right but then I remember I am an adult and kept bobbing up and down to The Front Bottoms, sick with self control. It probably wasn't him anyway.
I just got my first inkling of needing to pee and I’m not ready for the port-a-potty liness. I’m going to try and ignore it because that always work well...
I cave anduse the bathroom. I have a bladder the size of cashew and I honestly stressed about it a good two to three days before ACL.
There aren’t that many bathroom locations but I’m shocked to find the port-a-potties actually flush! Like high suction, airplane bathroom flush! Plus there’s an attendant who cleans the bathrooms after every so many uses! I didn’t expect was to live in the lap of luxury. I was quite pleasantly surprised. 4/5 stars!
It's the hottest time of the day. Next year: swimsuits. I'm in a crowd waiting for Blue October but I'm not sure if I'll be writing my next entry from the medical tent.
I'm sitting on the outskirts of the Cold War Kids. The fatigue is setting in. I only speak when spoken to. I’m in search of a second wind and/or a Red Bull.
I find shade in a hopeless place and a cherry limeade from JuiceLand! I have a break until M83 at 7:00 so I'm chillin’.
Whilst chilling on the grass, a woman peed right next to me. Yep she straight up peed. She turned to me and said "I'm sorry, I just really need to find a bathroom."
The cherry limeade was a bad idea because I had to use the bathroom again. The lines are jaw-dropping. The only good thing is how close they are to Corinne Bailey Rae’s stage. There is no better waiting-in-line music than "Like a Star."
*Celebrity update* I seriously thought I just saw Jack Black. He’s somebody that would totally come to ACL, right?!
We regretfully ditched M83 to get semi-okay seats for Radiohead. Note to self: If I want a good seat to the main event, I should probably leave a little sooner than 20 minutes in advance. However, while some of my friends are sitting waiting for the show to begin, I am standing strong. I am an ACL warrior. Nothing hurts and I’m totally invincible!
As the night progresses I care less and less about what I do or how I look because everyone around me is drunk.
I spoke too soon. Radiohead still has another hour of performing but my feet hurt, by spinal column is crumbling and Kerbey Lane queso has never sounded so good.
We call it a day.
We finally brave the crowd and dig ourselves out from the middle of what seems like 87 percent of the ACL attendees..
On the bus back to the ol' UT campus. The flash tats are half rubbed off and shin-high crew socks are crumpled to the ankles. ACL day one is (mostly) over.
Later, the night of ACL weekend one, day one:
I’m so glad I finally bought tickets to participate in one of the world’s most popular music festivals and Austin’s crown jewel. I’m pretty pumped to even stick my toes in the water.