Monday, September 18, 2006

ACL festival 2006 - September Simmering Boil

Almost back to the land of the living this fine Monday after the big ACL bash. I have a real love/hate relationship to that festival. There is soooo much hype over it on all the local media outlets, and I always want to go so bad I just wouldn't want to miss it... but in reality the whole experience balances out as far as it being worth all the hell and aggravation. The media is not getting or giving a true picture of what it's like to trudge through this affair as a regular non-VIP grunt, so their coverage is not only spun but their experiences not typical.

Cons and rants:
  1. Too damned hot here in September for an outdoor 3-day event.
  2. Way too crowded.
  3. Really long lines for food.
  4. Too many stages, too close together, sound bleeds over to the wrong stage.
  5. Not "Austin Weird", as corporate as it gets around here.
  6. The Power$-That-Be seem to be inflexible toward changing any of this stuff.

  1. There's always a couple of really good experiences that are memorable for each day.
  2. Get to hear some bands that you would not normally be exposed to.

A day of blasting hot sun (98 degrees) and high humidity with no relief. We were troopers and held out for hours at a big stage, saw Guster and Asleep at the Wheel before Nickel Creek came up, the band we were camped out for. Went through their autograph line, and had time to catch 2 songs by Del Castillo. The rest of the night was spent wandering through the crowd without a main focus as we could not really hear some of the bands we wanted to hear due to sound bleed. Listened to John Mayer from a half mile away for awhile (still plenty loud though) and called it a day. Exhausted from the heat and humidity.

Same weather as Friday, 98 degrees and humid. Couldn't handle the full sun but enjoyed the music of Galactic from the shelter of a misting tent. Great live band, gotta see them at a club soon. I was really frustrated all day until I was able to get a rail-spot for Calexico along with some welcome cloud-cover. They were great, and we hurried over to another stage for a great set from The South Austin Jug Band, and were done in for the day. No headliners even attempted today. With the extra layer of sunburn we went to dinner, then home to a houseful of cranky cats.

At last! Some rain and cloud cover. It still managed to get up to 98 - and sticky! Kathleen Edwards was a highlight. We camped out at a smaller stage for The Greencards, so we got to see local Austin's own MTV Rockstar Patrice Pike (pictured), and also Matt Costa. The Greencards were another big highlight for the day. We miss them!

After they played we intended to see Tom Petty, who was the big headliner for the day and one of our favorites. It was a solid mass of people, all headed somewhere in a hurry. One of the problems of the festival being too crowded and too many stages is that there is no "back" of the crowd... that nice mellow place where people are resting on blankets, playing frisbee and hacky-sack (sp?) and having room to dance like nobody's looking. I was hoping to find that place for Tom Petty because it was really not possible to get a front rail view without investing the time, and by that point was too hot and tired to stand up for 2 more hours. We tramped around looking for "that" place, and when Petty started playing we were surprised to hear that for some reason they had his volume turned down lower than any band of the weekend!! A major headliner and we couldn't hear him from a half mile away, not well enough. Disappointed, we decided to call it over and try to hear Petty from the sidewalk outside. Here was our view of Tom Petty below, and we could hear the show much better from this spot than we could inside. (sad.) It started to rain, and Tom Petty took a rain delay, so it really was over then. I got more sunburned on this cloudy day than I did the rest of the weekend. I guess the old wives tales about clouds and sunburn are really true.

Why do I do this festival? It's hard to resist, with all the hype and the lineup it really makes you want to go! Like a lot of things, it's not as much fun as it sounds like it's going to be, but I always end up with some nice memories.

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Ellie said...

Well I was glad to read your review. I missed going this year due to a visit from my brother and sister that very weekend. This is the first ACL I've missed since day one.

I agree with you on the crowds the best year was the first with only 45,000 attendees. You could find "that" place at every stage. Remember? And not have to stand a mile out for the main closing act each night. I noticed the sound bleed between stages two years ago when Cake closed the festival.

I'd of been there despite the heat, but reading about the crowds lessened my saddness.

You are so right thought, there are always some nice memories though.

Blueberry said...

The first year was the best, agreed. The right size crowd, and EJ played. ;-)