Last month, I went to my first ACL festival. My first year in Austin, I felt too new to the city to go. I didn’t even know where Zilker Park was at that point. But this year, I had to go! At the same time, I was terrified!! I love concerts, but crowds of drunken fools….eh, not so much.
It was that fear of the unknown that got into my head. How far will I have to walk? How hard is it to get from one stage to another? Will I get beer spilled on me? How hot will it be? What if I have a panic attack due to the crowd?
Finally, I just had to make a deal with myself. Julie–you’re going!! But if you go for an hour or two and you hate it, then leave! I decided to go to ACL by myself so that if I did get overwhelmed and left, I wouldn’t be putting anyone else out.
Shovels & Rope
And sooooo, I LOVED it. I had a blast. I randomly bumped into Heather on day 1 and we hung out. And I hung out on and off with my friend, Ben on day 2 & 3. But if my friends wanted to see one band and me another, we just parted ways. I felt so proud of myself for getting over my fears and navigating the mayhem quite well.
Everyone has their own preferred way to get to ACL. Walk, bike, cab, dropoff….I opted for the free shuttle. I parked downtown and walked a few blocks for the free buses that picked up in Republic Park. There was a steady stream of busses, so the wait time was minimal. Then you dropped off fairly close to the ACL entrance.
I had a sling bag with me containing cash/ID/debit card, 2 water bottles–one full, one empty, sunscreen, my cell phone, sunglasses, face/hand wipes, and aspirin. You can bring blankets/chairs, but I wasn’t lugging that around. It was easy to navigate the stages from the maps we were given.
I opted to not drink any beer during ACL. 1. I wanted to keep my wits in case it did get super crowded. 2. I didn’t want to have to trek out & wait for the port-a-potties. Ew. Basically, it was so hot on Friday & Saturday that I just sweat out all the water I drank & didn’t have to pee once. Overshare!!!
I actually started to feel like I was going to pass out on the first day after only being at ACL for an hour! The sun was beating straight on me. I hightailed it for a shady area and chugged some water and just sat until I felt okay. I was a bit freaked out by this & thought about leaving, but that’s when I ran into Heather—so she really saved ACL for me!! After that, I was more conscious of my water intake & was a-okay.
Pro tip: (yeah I’m a pro now) During ACL (and SWSX), KGSR & KUTX offer free morning shows. It’s so worth it getting up early to see this show. It’s several bands…only a couple songs each…but I was on the 2nd row at the KGSR show on day 2. I was able to resolve some concert conflicts as these bands were playing at ACL during the same set times as other bands I wanted to see.
Court Yard Hounds
Walk the Moon
Bands that I saw during ACL 2013: Noah and the Whale**, The Lone Bellow**, Franz Ferdinand, The National**, Haim, Little Green Cars**, Dana Falconberry, Silversun Pickups, Lissie**, Walk the Moon**, Aaron Behrens and the Midnight Stroll, Wilco, Kings of Leon**, Court Yard Hounds, Shovels and Rope, Jake Bugg, fun.**, and Vampire Weekend**
**the ones I liked the best
I’ve already bought my 3 day pass for the first weekend of ACL festival 2014. Hope to see you there!!