Ten Thoughts From My First ACL

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After years of hearing so much, I was finally able to attend my first Austin City Limits Music Festival last weekend. My expectations were high from all the hype given to me from friends and co-workers — how fun it was, the good music, the atmosphere...everything. And now that I have experienced it for myself I have a lot of thoughts. Here are ten to be exact.


I’m sweating, you’re sweating, we’re all sweating.

Texas is hot, even in October. The humidity and sun we’re rough but I figure it’s better than the alternative. Plus, we’re all in it together, no one was worried about all the sweat that had seeped through my shirt.  


The traffic is not that bad.

I’m one those people that thinks Austin traffic is already over-dramatized. I’m also the same person complaining about it when I do hit it, but anyway. The only traffic I ran into was literally the traffic right around Zilker. Super easy to get dropped off nearby and take a nice walk.


So much good food (and drinks) in one place.

It was like all of my favorite restaurants in Austin all compiled into one place. I was in gluttony. I ate tacos, barbecue, empanadas, ice cream. Then washed it all down with cider and beer. Needless to say, I’ve been detoxing the last week.


Wear comfortable shoes, even if they don’t match your outfit.

I was there from noon until 10 p.m. on Friday. I wore some cute sandals that I love. I wanted to throw them away by Friday night. My feet...they ached. Everything from my waist down was swollen. Saturday I wore sneakers with some cushion and a nice arch. Oh and walked in around 4 p.m. instead. Next year I'm wearing Crocs. It's a music festival, not a fashion show.


Use the bathroom during the show.

I’m one of those people who is just there to hear the music rather than see it. In that case, use the bathroom once the artists, especially headliners, have started. You can still hear the music but the lines will be significantly shorter.


Get to a Silent Disco.

Dancing and singing but yet it’s quiet once you take off your headphones? What doesn’t sound fun about that. I think they should add at least one (or maybe two more over the weekend) so everyone can find one to attend. If you don’t want to participate, at least go watch. Highly entertaining.


No worries if you’re alone, you’ll run into someone you know (eventually).

It’s similar to when you go to the mall when you’re back in your hometown. You’re bound to run into somehow you know. But the irony of that it’s so hard to actually meet the people you are trying to meet up with. Pre-arranged meeting spots and times are crucial.


Talk to someone new.

Even if you are completely alone and have no one to meet up with, or any potential person you might run into, just make new friends, I met people from Australia, Mexico and right here in Austin just by starting a casual conversation with someone standing nearby. Next ACL you attend, trying talking to new people, you never know you might meet.


Artists telling stories is the best.

I’m a journalist, so naturally I love hearing stories. Typically, musicians have a lot of good ones to tell. I loved hearing each of the artist’s stories on stage. Whether it was Paul McCartney, or ARIZONA who not that long ago was struggling to find gigs and can’t believe they’ve made it to a stage at ACL.


ACL, and live music in general, is magical.

Whether I was watching an artist alone or with friends, I had a smile on my face. There is something special about swaying side to side, or full out dancing, while singing along with the rest of the crowd.


Even with the heat, the traffic, the aching feet, the extra few pounds I probably gained; the positives out-weighed any those. ACL exceeded all my expectations. The shows were great, the food was great — I never ran out of the things to occupy my time. It is one of a kind when it comes to music festivals, and I can’t wait to do it again.

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