This year I attended the 2nd weekend of the Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL Festival). I can’t say enough about how good this festival was. It was well run, organized, efficient and so very high on quality in all aspects: Music, transportation and money management. They did the whole thing very good.
There is no parking around Zilker Park where the event is held so you have to take public transportation, walk or get dropped off at a spot designated for that. The shuttle busses ran efficiently and promptly between the park and downtown. Lots of traffic lanes were blocked off so the bus was definitely the way to get there. I took an Uber initially to get there from the MegaBus loading spot just to be sure I got there early. I had quite a walk after getting to the Uber unloading area. Again, the shuttle would be the best way to get to and from.
The shuttle bus transportation to and from was supplied by an army of city busses that make constant round trips from downtown Austin to the park and run well after the last show so no one is left behind. The other options were taxi’s, Uber, and lots of bicycle taxi’s for a fun ride back to the hotels too. All was very efficient and organized.
I got the 3-day pass and got there early on Friday to hear one of my long-time, favorite bands – Asleep At The Wheel. They’re still cranking out wonderful Western Swing tunes in the style of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. For the rest of the day, I would get to a stage to hear a band that I had picked to hear, then try to tear myself away to go hear half a set of another band. It wasn’t easy to leave the great bands that were playing but the best thing about doing that was that the next band was just as good, too. I discovered so many groups and fell in love with their music. I have no idea who picks these bands. They were all winners. No duds. They were ALL great! Bands like Moon Taxi, The Maccabees, Charlotte OC, Alissia Cara, GRIZ, Jose Gonzalez, BØRNS, Con Brio, Sylvan Esso, Mandolin Orange and on and on and on! And that’s not counting the headliners of Drake, Disclosure, deadmau5, Florence and the Machine, Dwight Yoakam, Hozier, Sturgil Simpson and The Weeknd. It was an incredible array of bands and musicians. What a weekend!
Then there’s the money. When you purchase your ticket ( 3-day pass $250), you get a wristband with microchip in it that you activate on-line by associating it with your credit card. Then when you purchase anything at the festival, you just touch your wristband chip to the iPad of the vendor and instantly your transaction is completed and off you go. The result was that there was never a wait for beer, wine, soda and water and the food lines moved so well that I never waited more than 5 minutes in any line. And the food quality was top notch, too. Food vendors included Torchy’s Tacos, Salt Lick BBQ, Korean Chi-lantro, cupcakes, snow cones and lots of other gourmet offerings. Not crappy fried stuff but really fine selections.
Although I read that there are 8 stages where bands play, I think it was really just 6. That’s not a complaint because I was rarely able to cover more than 2 stages within any given hour. At any rate, the stages were run on time and managed very well. The sound systems on each stage were superb. Stage lighting in the evenings was excellent too. All of the stages were run very well.
I spent the days following the festival downloading ( buying) lots of tunes from the bands I heard. There was so much and such variety. I just can’t rave enough about how well run this event was. Again, it was true quality in the music, the food, the transportation, the location and the efficiency of payment.
High 5’s ACL Festival. Y’all deserve all the accolades you are getting. I’ll see you next year!
I couldn’t begin to link videos of all the fabulous bands but here’s one I really enjoyed – Sylvan Esso. Enjoy!