Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Austin City Limits 2010
After nearly 6 months of anticipation, painfully watching the calendar, sorting through the line-up, and then the schedule, and then the map, feeling similar to a kid on Christmas Eve, it was finally here: Austin City Limits Music Festival 2010. Now to say I was excited about this would be accurate. To say I was giddy as a school girl would be closer to the actual truth. This would not just be my first ACL, but my first multi-day outdoor music festival ever. So I was definitely curious to see just how well I'd do. Most people who know me know that I do tend to go to a lot of shows, so the idea of doing it for 10 hours a day, 3 days in a row definitely seemed right down my alley. With that as my only justification for spending 185 dollars 6 months before the festival (and 3 months before the line-up), I pulled the trigger. Now it was finally here.
Part of my excitement and anticipation also came from the fact that the Friday of the festival would be my first day off from work since I started there March 8th. Having already seen Phantogram at Mohawk earlier during the week, I was more than pumped and prepared to get the festival underway. So me and some friends decided to go check out an official ACL pre-show Thursday night at La Zona Rosa. Neon Indian was playing with Prefuse 73, and tickets were easy to get thanks to 5 or 6 other big name acts doing pre-shows that night (who am I kidding, I got my ticket like a month in advance... but mainly because the Black Keys sold out in 10 minutes). Prefuse 73 was a surprisingly good show with a lot of percussion and a decent light show, and Neon Indian was even more impressive. A shot or two of Jameson and a few beers during the show led to an appropriately drunken night of a lot more shots of Jameson on dirty 6th. A late, but very successful ACL Eve.
Naturally being that excited, I was up by 8:30 even with the late bedtime. Nursing only a slight hang over, and knowing we had a long day ahead of us, we loaded up on some Magnolia's brunch. A few shots back at the apartment and off we were in cabs headed to Zilker. It took everything in me not to break out in a sprint to the gates when we got out of the taxi (I probably would have if I knew where the hell I was going). A few long lines at the bag check (which was surprisingly and thankfully pretty lenient), and to get my wristband and we were finally in. The weather was a perfect 86 degrees sunny and breezy, and we walked around a bit till we found a nice spot at the AMD stage for Blues Traveler. Seeing John Popper do a killer Radiohead cover of "Creep" was definitely the highlight of that set. We stayed near to make sure we had good seats for the next band but did get to catch some Miike Snow playing next door at the Honda stage. Next up came one of the bands I was most excited to see on the line-up, The Black Keys. They of course killed it, and I managed to down about 50 dollars worth of beer between 2 and 5 in the refreshingly warm sun. This was the absolute perfect state of mind to be in to walk back next door to see Beach House. I daydreamed and danced to Victoria and considered the day a success... except that it was only 6 when she silenced her angelic voice. I vaguely remember moving through a sea of people with traces of Spoon, Slightly Stupid, and Sonic Youth playing in the background. We then managed to catch an outside spot for Vampire Weekend, which for the time brought back a tiny spark of energy. It was now 8, and I was done (very literally). This just happened to be when I saw a utopia that was the food court, and the long trail of trailers full of treasures at the end of my double rainbow. With so many decisions in front of me and the ability to eat a small horse and/or child, I panicked and pulled a rookie mistake. I managed to spend $20 in under 10 minutes on a personal pizza, Torchy's taco, and some good ole fashioned cheese fries. I was officially the happiest person in Zilker park, and had a permanent smile on my eyes half-opened sunburned face. I fell asleep on my backpack peacefully as I watched from a distance the light show provided by Phish. I don't know many people who would fall asleep during Phish, but after a day like that I found it totally justifiable. A quite sleepy walk and car-ride back to a couch, and I was passed out by 11:30. This turned out to be a good thing for the long weekend I still had in store.
Rested. Refreshed. Energized. I knew day 2 was going to be good the second I woke up on the couch and my friend was playing LCD Soundsystem's "Dance Yrself Clean." Thanks to a handy little chatroom-like text inbox that ACL provided access to, we all managed to keep in contact throughout the festival, and organized a quick recovery/pre-game meal at Kerbey Lane. A walk down to the liquor store to get supplies to bring with us as we were going to be and were much more prepared, and we were ready to rage. Our bank accounts and stomachs were done with expensive festival beer. Another cab ride down to Zilker and we managed to get down to the Budweiser stage to catch Gaslight Anthem. We saw some of the Black Lips set over at Zync and then headed down to see one of my personal favorites, Broken Bells. A good performance with an interesting Black Keys cover of "Everlasting Light" as we walked back across the park to catch The XX. I managed to get separated from the group during that trip thanks to an abundance of whiskey in my bladder that could not be put on hold, especially with the valuable and rare porta potties so near in sight. So I ended up being pretty far back from the what looked like an already kind of dull XX performance, so I strolled on down a little further to claim a good spot for LCD Soundsystem. I wasn't alone for long thanks to my red and white umbrella landmark, and me and the ladies danced to a very awesome show. I jetted from there over to meet up with another friend and caught the show that in my mind will be the most talked about of the weekend, Deadmau5. His light show dominated the black sky, and the whiskey had me feeling warm as could be on a beautiful cool Austin night. I ended up in towards the back for that night's headliner Muse, but that was okay because their light show was equally as entertaining as Deadmau5, and having the Austin skyline as the backdrop was a perfect touch. I left early from this to meet up with the gang and head over to Antone's for an official aftershow I managed to win free tickets to. After impatiently maneuvering through some hellatious traffic, we saw Girls play a great show and it was fun to go from half a mile away in the back of Muse to front row at Girls less than 2 hours later. That was definitely the apex of the evening, because after that things went downhill fast. Feeling great after a 5 hour energy shot, and not wanting to leave downtown yet, I walked down to dirty 6th to see if I could find some of my friends down there. This was extremely difficult to do thanks to the large crowd of people, and the lack of a cell phone which had died earlier in the day. The only successful thing I managed to do in this time frame was scarf down some Ropollos pizza. Also hard to do in Austin on a Saturday night during ACL weekend... hailing a cab. Trust me, the walk from Beauty Bar on 7th near the interstate to Kerbey Lane on Guadalupe is not fun to do alone at 2 in the morning. I did manage to run into some old friends in front of the Omni, and watched a girl get softly bumped by a moving car in the street. So at least I managed some quality entertainment. But all is well that ends well, and I ended up with a shower and then in a comfy bed, so the walk did not end in vain.
Still in my clothes from the night before, I managed a ride back to my friends apartment down near Zilker. I put the clothes I wore Saturday back on (as my other bags were at my friends duplex down south that I never made it back to the night before) and began the walk down to the festival. It was 11am on the last day of my first ACL, and I intended to make it count. I stopped by the gas station for some essentials (5 hour energy, Gatorade, toilet paper) and by a little market on Barton Springs for the best breakfast taco I've ever had and some hippie all natural deodorant, and marched into my last day alone. I caught a little bit of Ruby Jane's performance, who I had seen shred the stage with Blues Traveler on a fiddle on Friday all at the age of 15. She was very impressive. I then found the lifesaver that was the phone charging tent. I left my Blackberry to regain some life and went to catch a show I had been looking forward to all weekend, Warpaint. I had heard so many good things about them, they were the reason I was already seeing my second show of the day and it wasn't even noon yet. They lived up to the hype, and I was on cloud 9 for the day. I finally met up with my friends again, and we leisurely caught some of White Rabbits and then the Foals. They stopped off at Blind Pilot but I kept moving to assure a good spot for another show I had immediately circled when the line-up came out. Portugal, the Man exceeded my expectations and put on one of the best performances musically of the festival (I'm also fairly sure I saw Kate Hudson standing in the VIP balcony). After this I tried the appropriately named Love Burger and went to claim my spot for Yeasayer, another show that I knew I had to see. Their performance was good, but a tough one to get through. Standing with the sun beating down on us, sleep deprived, dehydrated, hung over, and exhausted from the mini marathon I had done the night before all definitely took a toll on me. But I managed not to pass out, and I popped a squat after the show to sit and wait on the reason why I never once contemplated selling my 3-day pass no matter how desperate I may have been for money at any point since I had purchased it. I had a prime spot for The Flaming Lips, and I intended to keep it. Best decision I ever made. Wayne put on the performance of the festival, and I was close enough to snap some amazing pictures. A compilation of exhaustion from the weekend, the culmination of some of the best shows I had ever seen, and the fact that it was the Flaming Lips closing my ACL experience with "Do You Realize..." I definitely teared up during the finale (I had something in both my eyes, okay). My back could officially take no more after that, and I old man hobbled out of the festival early to miss the Eagles (sorry dad) and catch some bands from my hometown (Mass Rituals and Knifight) play a show downtown at Emo's. It was a fitting way to end such a memorable weekend, watching and supporting local music, the way its done in Austin.
It was without a doubt one of the best weekends of my life, and I wrote this to help me remember and look back on in a few years when future festivals I attend will most likely have led me to some slight memory loss. To everyone reading this who was a part of this amazing weekend, I say thanks. Its memories like these that I will cherish for the rest of my life, and my first ACL will forever be something I will look back upon with a smile on my face.