Welcome Back, ACL Fest 2016

The theme from Star Wars came rolling up the hill today from Zilker Park, announcing the opening day of the first weekend of the Austin City Limits Music Festival for its 15th year! Let the fun begin!

Austin’s Minor Mishap Marching Band at ACL Fest 2014

For most of those 15 years, I, too, joined the human swarm criss-crossing Austin’s “Great Lawn,” as that part of the park is known locally. I no longer attend the fest for 3 related reasons. Firstly, I’m not the kid I was before I turned 60, so my stamina flags pretty drastically somewhere in the 3-day run of 10-hour days.

Secondly, again related to my age, I suppose: the acts they’ve booked for the last several years miss the mark for me more and more. I’m an unabashed aficionado of roots-rock-classic-rock-Americana music in smaller venues.

Thirdly — and admittedly, this could be the “real” reason I began to choose to stay home instead: these days, they stream a bunch of the performance over the internet, so I can sit at home and watch on a big-screen TV, giving me a better view of the stage acts than if I were down there in the midst of it all. Yes, I miss the thrill of being there in the crowd, and no, they don’t stream all the acts. But I don’t miss the porta-potty lines (or the porta-potties themselves, especially towards the end of each day) and you miss acts even if you attend in person because there’s usually at least 3 stages with musicians playing at any one time. Even in person, you have to pick and choose — and then deal with the crowds.

ACL Mudfest-shoe sole left in mud

ACL Mudfest?

You have to deal with the weather as well — and that has been problematic some years. I sat in the sun in 108° heat one year to watch Bukka Allen. And I was there for the “mudfest” a few years back. Mind you, this year, the weather is just about perfect —sunshine and temperatures in the 70s.

Of course, there’s no telling what weather the second weekend will bring.

Yes, they added a second weekend a few years ago, overlapping the big acts and rotating some lesser-known names into each weekend (mostly Austin-based bands) so there is some variation if you attend both weekends. I suppose, you could also use the 2nd weekend  to catch all those simultaneously performing acts. Or just catch a reprise of a favorite band or two, old or new.

Whether I attend ACL Fest or not, I’m personally delighted to have it just down the hill. Yes, it’s a neighborhood nightmare in terms of traffic, parking, walkers obliviously wandering down the middle of the street despite moving cars. And I know the sound bothers some (especially true the year Skrillex had a closing slot one evening— those EDM bass vibrations could shake a satellite in orbit), but I’m not complaining.

Instead, I’m left anticipating watching the streaming acts on Red Bull TV. And remembering highlights of previous years’ fests, like this lovely performance from Imelda May a couple of years ago. Sing along once you know the words!

Omigod, it’s good to be alive!
Omigod, it’s good be alive!
Know one thing for sure
Is that I’ll die — but today:
It’s good to be alive!


About bullersbackporch

I am a native Austinite, a high-tech Luddite, lover of music, movies and stories and a born trainer-explainer.
This entry was posted in Austin, Buller, Fun, music, musicians, performances and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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