Austin City Limits Music Festival 2012
Last weekend, I was invited by a close friend to accompany her over the weekend at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. The decision to go was not difficult at all for I have always wanted to attend a music festival of large magnitude, and more importantly, I knew it was the weekend of her birthday. I was very eager to attend, however I had only a few days to acquire a festival pass. After scouring through multiple classified ads on Craigslist, along with sending out various phone calls and e-mail, I was lucky to attain a 3-day weekend pass from a trustworthy young lady that worked at a downtown hospital in Houston for near face value. Once the transaction was complete, I was beyond ecstatic.
On Friday, the first day of the festival, my friend and I had agreed to meet each other a little after noon in Austin. Upon arriving into town, I got into a small car accident on the highway. Usually no one likes to admit fault in accidents, but I truly believed I did the best in the situation; I just had bad luck. It had been nearly seven years since my last “accident”, which was rolling back into another vehicle on my inclined driveway one late night. Obviously, I was upset, but I was more glad that the damage was relatively minimal and that the vehicle remained drive-able. I was able to exchange information, take a few photos, and get back on the road in a short amount of time.
We both arrived at the hotel nearly around the same time. Before checking in, she told me that the hotel had been fully taken care of by her friend that had bailed, which was excellent news to hear as it saved us both several hundreds of dollars. We quickly settled in our room, prepared our day bags, and took an inexpensive shuttle to ‘Zilker Park’, the venue for ACL, from the hotel. The shuttle dropped us near the ‘Barton Springs’ entrance, which was just a few minutes walking distance. The entrance was packed, but it wasn’t too long of a wait to enter.
Upon entering the entrance gates, I was amazed as to how large the festival was. As we walked over to the concession stands, we traveled over a small hill, elevated high enough for an awesome view of a sea of people gathered in front of the ‘Bug Light’ stage. Different genres of music were audible from the many stages set up around the park. We picked up some beverages and made our way to the ‘Zilker Stage’ where the band ‘Lance Herbstrong’ was playing. My friend warned me that the band attracted ‘potheads’, so I wasn’t as surprised when I penetrated through random clouds of second-hand smoke, reeking the smell of pot. I concluded that the staff do not check bags thoroughly, nor do they have many authorities roaming around to regulate what was suppose to be a smoke-free festival. It didn’t bother me too much, however.
We then met up with her sister and brother-in-law, who had a blanket set up somewhere in the crowd between two stages. We were able to locate them with the help of many custom flags on poles other attendees brought; we ended up using someone’s rainbow wind-sock as our guidance. We had some fun conversations along with a few food and drinks. We stayed there for a few hours, listening to ‘Florence + The Machine’, ‘M83’ and a few other bands. As darkness approached, we made our way to the ‘AMD Stage’ where ‘Avicii’ was about to commence.
We knew of a friend whose parents ran a backstage VIP area behind the ‘AMD Stage’. My friend knew him better, but he was nice enough to put my name on a list to accompany her. Once we got in, we met with him, his parents, and his friends. Everyone was courteous and seemed to be having a good time. The area was quite spacious; they had clean bathrooms, multiple tents serving free food, drinks, and snow cones, a large display showing whatever band was playing on stage, and a fun photo booth. It was a nice change of pace from the hectic hordes of people roaming around the festival. While ‘Avicii’ was playing, we were able to sneak underneath the stage for a bit; was quite cool looking at the crowd from below. We ended the night watching the last 30 minutes from ‘The Black Keys’.
On Saturday morning, before heading out for our second day, I surprised my friend with a cupcake, a card and a bottle of wine for her birthday. It was her birthday after all, and I wanted to do something. Anyway, she seemed to appreciate it. On our way to lunch with her sister and her brother-in-law, we noticed the weather was getting bad; it was getting windy and there was a slight drizzle brooding. I had checked the forecast a few days before; it was predicted that the chance of rain was higher on Sunday. Regardless, we sat outside under a covered patio at a restaurant called ‘Hula Hut’ near Lake Travis. They had delicious Tex-Mex and mixed drinks.
After we arrived back to the festival, the weather got worse. It began to pour heavily. My friend and I shared the only umbrella we had and made a beeline towards the ‘AMD Stage’ backstage to regroup with our friends from the day before. The rain lasted another hour or so, making us take cover every other 15 minutes and resorting to use trash bags as ponchos. Later that day, we saw ‘Bassnectar’ which I enjoyed a lot; the crowd was crazy. My friend danced along, which is rare, so that got me pretty happy. We also saw ‘The Shins’ and ‘Jack White’ as well. We ended the night after barhopping on 6th Street for a few birthday shots and other shenanigans.
On the final day, we appeared to be somewhat tired. We had been drinking for two full days straight. Regardless, we made it back to the festival once more. The last day there was kind of crappy. The areas near the portable bathrooms reeked and seemed to be over flooded. We couldn’t really sit anywhere, as everything was still wet and muddy. The venue seemed to be more packed than the previous days. We were crammed within the crowds, making it difficult and slow to go anywhere. Overall, it was kind of miserable and I felt bad because I was the one that wanted to venture off into different parts of the festival. We decided it was best just to hang out backstage again.
One band that stuck out that day was ‘Die Antwoord’. They have a female vocalist that has a very high and annoying sound, although, their songs were somewhat catchy. We drank a bit more, including some tequila shots. The last bands we eventually saw were ‘The Avett Brothers’, ‘Childish Gambino’ and the ‘Red Hot Chili Peppers’.
Overall, the experience was awesome. I definitely had a memorable time. Hopefully, I can get the chance to go back, hopefully in a larger group. Next year, it will span over two weekends, so that will be interesting.