Almost one year ago, when my cousin Rachael was in New York, she convinced me to get presale tickets to the 2013 Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL). The 2012 festival had just finished a few weeks before, the next years line up was not set, but I had never gone to a music festival before and Rachael made it sound so fun, I decide to go for it. This year they were doing two weekends instead of one and we picked the first weekend. We waited months for the bands playing to be released, and when we finally found out who was playing, we didn’t know which weekend. There were a lot of great bands and there were some big ones we didn’t want to miss, but knew they must have been split over the two weekends. Some time late in the summer the final lineup was set and we found out that all the bands were playing both weekends in the exact same line up. Thank you ACL creators. I was so excited to head back to Austin. Rachael was sending emails out with all the supplies she had waiting for the show, notes on what to bring and asking what shows we had to see. We watched 27 bands preform and listened to five more, taking a break nearby. This was a three day marathon and this is how it went down.
The festival was all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 4th to the 6th. On Thursday, Rachael, Steffanie, Bailey and I meet to discuss strategy. Seriously. Rachael’s apartment right near Zilker Park, less than a mile from the festival site, so we were all staying with her. She had parking passes for us since her apartment complex doesn’t allow festival goers to park there, her highway exit is actually closed for the weekend. We set a meeting point for whenever we get split up and because Bailey had to work Friday before joining us. And discussed outfits, of course. Comfy shoes (I had some of my favorite comfortable sandals and my cowboy boots and I still walked around barefoot most of the second and third days. No shoes felt so good) and clothes that are cool during the day, but it was getting cold in the evenings, so we needed something to layer up.
The next morning, Rachael, Steffanie and I set out with our flasks hidden in strategic locations, hats on (never been so happy to wear a hat), covered in sunblock and wristbands on. It may be October, but in Austin it was hot, still in the upper 80’s and lower 90’s and we needed to prevent sunblocks unless we wanted a couple miserable days to follow. A few other things to think about taking: umbrellas or rain gear maybe necessary, empty water bottle, we snuck in a few snacks, hand sanitizer, (port-a-potties!), and chap stick. Once we were in the park, we headed straight to one of the water filling stations. You cannot bring any food or drink in, but you can bring in an empty bottle to fill. We also stopped by a drink stand to get some honey and mint sweet tea to mix with our whiskey, vodka or tequila before heading to our first show.
There are eight stages. The two main stages are at opposite ends of the park and the next two largest,I called them the openers, are next to them. The main and opener stages rarely had shows going on at the same time next to each other, but the two main stages had shows running at the same time that were offset about a half hour. So did the openers. Most of the shows we were going to were on those stages. Only the headliners at the end of the day were more than an hour long. We saw a few shows fully, but for the most part, we split the shows and saw about three quarters of each one. It might not look like it in the photos, but we were able to get pretty close for most of the shows and watch the acts on the stage vs the screens. None of us are much for being crammed at the stage, so we stayed back a bit for the most part, but the crowds were not so bad that we couldn’t have been closer. Except for maybe Muse and Phoenix.
So, who did we see and who did we love best? I can tell you who we saw easy. Who we loved most, will be a bit harder. Friday we saw: Dana Falconberry, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, Court Yard Hounds, JImmy Eat World, Fun., Local Natives, The Black Angels, Vampire Weekend, Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, Depeche Mode, and Muse. Depeche Mode was just scary, we watched about 15 minutes and headed down to Muse earlier than we planned. Since a generator blew out, they were running late, so we actually saw their whole set, which was amazing. Made me love them more. I forgot how many songs I knew of Jimmy Eat World and Arctic Monkeys. The Court Yard Hounds was the only country band we saw and they were great. Vampire Weekend, Local Natives and Fun, were just awesome, as expected.
Saturday we saw Walk the Moon, Delta Rae, Silversun Pickups, Portugal. The Man, Grimes, Passion Pit, The Weeks, The Shouting Matches, Kings of Leon, and The Cure. We saw the whole set of Walk the Moon, and they may have been the most surprising group of the whole weekend. They were so fun and great to watch, new favorite band. Grimes was an interesting set we watched a bit of on our way to another show, it was described to me as dolphin sounds and I think that was a perfect description. The Shouting Matches were another surprise. They were a really good jam band. It was a nice break in the middle of the day. We made the mistake of leaving Kings of Leon, who were amazing, towards what was to the the end of their set to go check out The Cure. We all remember songs of The Cure, but whatever we were watching was not so good. We decided to leave cause Kings of Leon should have been finishing, but they played at least and extra half hour and we missed it. To be fair we were really hungry and wanted to get dinner and head downtown. We ended up on Rainey Street, did some dancing and somehow on the way home started talking about Celine Dion’s song, It’s All Coming Back to Me Now. We may have put on the song when we go back to the apartment,belted it out and Steffanie’s boyfriend, Rob, may have recorded it over the phone. Great way to end the night.
Sunday was much less exciting. There were less bands we really wanted to see and none were too early. We saw multiply full sets. The first was Noah and the Whale, who I was most excited to see and they were awesome. We actually did try to get close to the stage for their show. They were on an opener stage and we went up the hill to watch Grouplove after. We thought we knew them, but we didn’t and were not too impressed, so we headed down to Franz Ferdinand and watched his full set. He was pretty good, but not as good as I was hoping. Toro Y Moi was great and so were The National. We skipped Eric Church, we could sort of hear, because Phoenix was on an opener stage and people were already gathered and we didn’t want to miss them. They were phenomenal. I want to see them live again and again. We watched their whole set, and wouldn’t have been able to escape the crowd even if we wanted to leave early. We headed up to one of the main stages to catch Atoms for Peace. We didn’t realize that the lead singer was from Radiohead. We didn’t know the songs, but they were really good and their background was amazing.
After they finished we headed out for dinner and toasted to a successful festival. We were exhausted, didn’t want to drink anymore, and were lazy enough to get a cab home instead of walking back through the park. It was an awesome weekend. Now we are debating going again next year. The presale tickets go up some time this week or next, but it looks like we are going to wait for the main sale tickets to decide if we are all going or not. I kinda hope we do. Until then, I will enjoy my ACL 2013 playlist.