Austin Hit My Limits


It's almost here.

The one event I dread annually, more than a filling being replaced and more than Christmas shopping.

I have but three words for you:

Austin City Limits.

While most people come into town for this glorious three-day cacophonous sweatfest, I try to plan my way out. It's not that I hate live music. But in my opinion, live music should be an experience, not an event. Much like camping, I shy away from ACL because I just can't get behind something that doesn't have several basic amenities: a place to sit or lie down, somewhere to rinse off my feet (weird, I know), easy access to food and water and oh yeah, a bathroom.

Throw sixty five thousand people into that mix and you’ve got a campsite from Hell. So, I just say no. I haven’t been to ACL and, barring a Billy Joel appearance, I don’t plan on going.

Every year, my friends and coworkers dutifully buy their tickets and carefully plan out their weekend in advance. Friends from out of town (one year a friend from Zurich made the trek) suddenly are calling and wanting to meet up – a nice concept in theory. I gently remind them that I never go to ACL and that this year isn’t any different, at which point they say “Oh! Well, we’ll just meet up afterward.” Yeah, at around 3 AM at the after-after party after the other one that’s after Kings of Leon. That’s gonna happen. My small office is inevitably deserted on Friday and my boss usually feels sorry for me and lets me leave early.

By the way – a Texas music festival in the summer? Newsflash: It’s still hot in Austin right now. Just because we all threw our windows open and broke out the hot chocolate last week does not mean 95 degrees is some sort of cold front. Remember the year of the dustbowl in 2005? People’s diehard listening aptitude was judged by how much dirt they had outlining their flip-flops and the Zilker Park soccer “fields” were reduced to something more resembling a rodeo arena. If I have to make a burka out of a handkerchief to attend, I ain't goin'.

No, I don’t get into ACL – the afterparties, the pre-parties, the during parties, nothing. I use it as a time to catch up on things I can’t do any other time of the year in Austin, like drive down Mopac during rush hour or find street parking downtown. There’s never a wait at Guerro’s during the headliners at the festival and if you can get down to the Lady Bird Lake hike and bike trail, it’s practically deserted.

So here’s to you, ACLers! May you find your happiness darting from stage to stage and enjoy that beautiful “Great Lawn” that appeared to be underwater last week.

I'll be in the AC listening to iTunes, beverage in hand, with cleaner feet.

7 Response to "Austin Hit My Limits"

  • lazysmurf Says:

    Awesome, I don't go either and enjoy it the same way I enjoy Superbowl Sunday, enjoying the town. I also want to add that last week I did open the windows AND drink hot chocolate.

  • Monty Says:

    Wow, what a pessimist. You complain about the heat in the summer (it's actually fall now) then mention going down to the hike and bike trail anyway. You also say that even though you've never been to ACL, that it lacks basic amenities. Sit or lie down? You are in a huge park. Of course there are places to lay your little head. Rinse off your feet? That's an interesting need but you do realize Barton Springs Pool is in Zilker park don't you? Easy access to food? They have a plethora of food booths offering great food from some of Austin's finest establishments. Bathroom? They have them setup all over the park. The dust is no longer an issue because ACL donated money to put a irrigation system in under the "great lawn" they paid for as well.

    You should expand your horizons a bit and give it a shot sometime.

  • Tyler Says:

    ACL is a pain, but it's a rite of passage in Austin. You should try it out one time.

    You'll find that you are mostly right, but hey, you might have some fun too.

    Now don't get me started on the run-up to ACL...especially the Sound and Jury...

  • Mean Rachel Says:

    Thanks guys! Who knows Monty...there's always next year!

  • Scott In South Austin Says:

    I always like the fact that on Saturday night I can walk into Magnolia Cafe and my wait is less than 10 minutes during ACL.

    I've done ACL three times in the past 5 years - I would rather spend my money at Waterloo, purchasing music I can listen to in the comfort of my home, all while adjusting the thermostat.

    I love ACL - but it's not an every year thing for me. Thanks for your post Rachel - you're not being mean, just honest.

  • Anonymous Says:

    I sooo understand about the feet thing and ACL.

    And where do you wash hands after the potty? Yuk, think about it.

    The only way to consider doing such an event is as a VIP.

    I'm looking forward to the next debate regarding The Great Lawn: Why can ACL be there with tents, etc. and not the people who play organized sports?

  • Jeremy Says:

    Probably because C3 is in contract with the city, they are paying for the grass for the "Great Lawn" so they have every right to put their tents there.