It was a weekend of sunburns, guitars, people in animal costumes, dubstep, Pinot Grigio in a bike thermos, puncture wounds, antibiotics, hair every color of the rainbow, screaming kids, screaming musicians, glitter, fried food and crowd surfing. I can’t imagine a much better experience.
Friday I’m in Love
The conversations about ACL weather began sometime in September. I was desperately hoping for a rainstorm like last year. One friend was going to murder the lot of us if it was too hot. She talked again about how we should have chosen weekend two. Another friend worried that it would be too cold and he wouldn’t know how to dress. The fears were unwarranted – the weekend was absolutely beautiful – although I had to make do without any rain dancing.
We thought the crowds would be better than years past because of the two weekend split, but there were just as many people in the park this year. Which is fine – the more people at the festival, the more unusual people watching I get to do. Festival fashion is always an interesting thing to me, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed this year. I saw girls in lace pants, others in pleather, lots of bikini tops, a guy in a full panda bear costume, glitter galore, and plenty of hipster attire. The animals were the most interesting. Sunday I spotted at least a dozen people dressed as animals. It wasn’t unbearably hot, but I wasn’t in full fur. I can’t imagine how sweaty and smelly they must have been. I did venture on the wild side myself – I sported my sparkly bunny ears. Much more comfortable than fur, I’m sure. Although probably not as fun.
The bands were awesome of course. We saw Jimmy Eat World, Pinback, fun., Wild Belle and Kaskade . Depeche Mode finished out the night with an incredible set including a four song encore. These guys still have it – there is such an obvious difference in skill between some of the newer bands with less experience and these masters. The music was flawless and 51 year old lead singer, Dave Gahan, looked more like a 20 year old prancing around shirtless on stage.
All I Ever Wanted
Saturday morning about an hour before we were supposed to go downtown I was walking through the garden, checking out my neglected plants, and stepped on a rusty upturned rake. It went through my flipflop and my flesh and I went to urgent care. All I could think as I drove myself to get a tetanus shot was how horrible it would be if I couldn’t see The Cure. I have been in love with The Cure for almost 20 years. They hold a special place in my teenage-angsty heart. There was no way I was going to let a flesh wound keep me from such a unique experience.
Luckily the puncture wound wasn’t too serious so after a tetanus shot and a lot of bandages, I was free to go party like a fool again. I’m not going to say it didn’t hurt. It hurt like hell. But I am proud to say that I was front and center for almost every band on Saturday (thanks probably to all the wine that was numbing the pain).
The first act we caught was Walk the Moon, one of my favorite recent bands. We’ve been watching these guys since they played SXSW in 2011 at a venue with about 20 people in the audience. They’ve gotten better and better and the crowd to see them bigger and bigger. The show they put on Saturday was amazing – the energy and skill of this band is awesome. If you haven’t seen them live, do it! They are consistently fantastic.
Other shows from Saturday – Delta Rae, Silversun Pickups, Grimes, Passion Pit and ending with The Cure. In spite of my throbbing foot, I pushed my way up close enough to see Robert Smith’s lipstick and almost had a meltdown as they played my favorite song, Lullaby, third. It was an amazing two hour set, an experience I’m not going to forget for a long long time.
If I Ever Feel Better
Sunday I was ready to take it easy. My plan was to chill out in a chair, eat some food, listen to some music, and just enjoy the day. Until super bass-y dubstep electronica show Paper Diamond started to play, that is exactly what I did. But I couldn’t resist crazy dancing and soon I was right back in the mix of everything.
It just went downhill for me from there. My water bottle of wine went down quickly (with my dancing skills). I tried to sit after Paper Diamond ended, but Franz Ferdinand started up and there was no stopping me.
The craziest crowd of the weekend was for Phoenix. I still don’t understand why the people behind ACL put them on such a small stage. Do they not know how awesome Phoenix is? It was worth the wait and the claustrophobia though. The show was awesome, especially when lead singer, Thomas Mars, ran around the outside of the crowd and then up through the middle and we all had to pass his mike cord over our heads. What a show.
By the time Lionel Richie went on to close out the weekend, I was drunk and exhausted. It was all I could do to walk back to the car. But it was definitely the best ACL yet. My only regret is that it didn’t rain. God, I love to dance in the rain.
A final thought – I don’t really understand people who live in Austin and don’t do the music thing. Without a doubt it is the best thing that happens here. Not the only cool thing, of course. But in my opinion, the best. I’m not just talking about the big music festivals, the ACLs and Fun Fun Fun Fests and SXSWs. There are bands playing every single day of the year. Don’t know any of them? Go anyways! That’s what makes it so fun – yes a lot of times it will be horrible, but every now and then there is a gem, a band you will love for years. Get out there and experience this great city for yourself! Dance like a fool, it will be worth it.