One of the most fun weekend of my life, without a doubt, and that’s with a sunburn. ACL Music Festival was brilliant in dozens of different ways, and, as I came to discover on Sunday, most of those ways are tiny details that I would never have noticed had I not asked somebody. Logistics, or semantics, or whatever you want to call it, the fact that ACL had all therocks in Zilker park raked out of the grass so that people could walk barefoot–that’s amazing. I’m usually the guy to condemn the over-indulgence in pleasure and luxury, but it was little things like that–things no one would know about otherwise–that helped make the festival what it was.
There are dozens of topics about which I could write, and I hope to somehow upload most of the pictures. I tried to take at least three pictures of every band that I legitimately saw perform. I say legitimately because sometimes I was so far away, talking to someone, or engaging so thoroughly in another activity that I couldn’t honestly tell you I “saw” that performance. Such is the case for “The Toxic Airborne Event.” I was collecting bottles while they played, and while I could half-lie and tell you I saw them play, I really didn’t.
I mentioned above that I was collecting bottles, but I want to talk more about that. ACL did a fantastic job of trying to keep the entire event as environmentally friendly as a massively environmentally unfriendly event can be. Among the notable things they did to try to reduce their environmental impact: encouraged carpooling by providing ACL bus shuttles, encouraged and promoted biking by providing thousands of racks and free help from Mellow Johnny’s; ACL had a massive solar panel to generate a portion of its energy, they had water filling stations so people could repeatedly reuse water bottles or fill Nalgenes (this was, in my opinion, a brilliant and effective way of discouraging frivolous water bottle use), they had a program that distributed environmentally friendly trash bags to fill with cans and bottles to concert-goers, who then filled those bags and received free t-shirts (thus making sure many cans, bottles, and cups are recycled, not just thrown away); the eateries had vegan and vegetarian options in boatloads (although I didn’t get anything, the options looked great), and many of the food packaging was bio-degradable and earth-friendly.
There are plenty of things to talk about beside the music, and I feel obligated to do so because many of these things lent a very cool feeling to the festival, despite the fact that I did nearly none of them. There was a Google Lounge, where you could sit in an air-conditioned room of computers and wi-fi, there was a Honda station where you took pictures of yourself in a new Honda in hopes of winning it, there was a state-of-the-art Lost and Found section, tag-a-kid section, and tons of volunteer stations. There were also hundreds of porta-potties, several of those water-filling stations I mentioned earlier, a large replica of the capital that served as a great meeting place, a large, translucent balloon thing that was light, strung, and released to float into the sky every night, and a plethora of shopping options, from ACL merchandise, to band items, to dresses and backpacks.
You tend to run into a lot of people who you know, and also tend to find out that your best friends are at the same show as you despite you never seeing them. A list of some people I saw or met up with: Michael, Hillary, Carli, Katelyn, Jillian, Carlos, Phillip, Justin, Charlie, Justin S., Amanda, a guy from H.E.B. whose name I forgot, two girls from Dobie whose names I had forgotten, Allie, Sydney, Jeff, Patrick, Jackson, John, Kevin, a bunch of Carli’s friends whose names I’ve forgotten, Callen, Abbi, Molly, Jake, Bryan, Sarah, Thomas, Dinero, Steve G., Victoria, and two Plan II guys whose names I don’t know. There were more, and many will exist in my mind only as forgotten names, but running into people you know made the experience a lot more fun.
The weed. The amount of weed was ridiculous. I’ve seen people smuggle liquor into weird places, so I wasn’t too surprised by the flasks and tiny bottles I saw of that, but the weed. Everywhere. The hypothesis I told to Mike was that if you were at a show–on at which you were surrounded by people–someone within five feet of you was smoking. Everytime. Everyone. Every concert. It was ridiculous. I was second-hand high probably 15% of the entire festival. People smuggled in well-disguised cigarette look-alikes, pipes, freaking bongs, and a lot of joints. Patrons were open, blatant, and unapologetic about smoking weed, and not once did I see anyone report anything. Ironically, except for joints, smoking weed is more fire-ban friendly than smoking cigarettes, because cigarettes ash all the time. Weed was an unavoidable part of the concert experience, and I had two people at the Kanye concert alone collapse right next to me. I would hesitate to take my kids to a music festival of that nature, but that didn’t stop a lot of people. Kids were ever present, and families were very common. The music was good, and you can tell yourself that you’re just there for the music and don’t really care or condone what else is going on, but taking your family to ACL implies a slightly laissez-faire mindset about drug use, which is a dangerous thought for parents to pass to their kids.
I will post later about the music, and then hopefully I’ll post some pictures!