Wow, where to begin? I had never been to an ACL before, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I'd heard horror stories from last year; the festival fell on the hottest day of the year in Austin, somewhere around 107 degrees in direct sun with storms of dust and not enough shade or water. Of course, I'd also heard great things - there are tons of bands to see, people to watch, and all kinds of businees going on. Not to mention that you get to hang out in Austin, which is always a blast.
We got there Saturday sometime around 3pm after a trip filled with delicious BBQ and kolaches from the Czech Stop
, which is the best and most legendary place to stop between Dallas and Austin. Once we got to Austin, we found parking in the city proper. They had free shuttles running to and from the park where the concert was held all day which were surprisingly efficient. It was warm, but nothing too intense. Once we arrived at the grounds, I was just amazed with how thick with people the place was. It was crawling with every type of person you could imagine, and some you probably couldn't. The grounds were enormous, and there were several stages scattered throughout.
We put on our sunscreen, secured our water bottles, and worked our way to see the Shins
first. They put on a pretty good show, and I enjoyed getting to see them for the first time. The sun was to our backs, people tossed beach balls around in the crowd, and the smell of pot was already thick. I can't imagine being high when it's so hot outside - sweating and being high doesn't seem like as much fun as everyone else thought it was. The Shins played a brand new song and asked everyone to take video with whatever portable video capture devices they had. It seems they'll be making a music video from some of the footage that is submitted here
. What a cool idea!
Next we wandered through the shops and concessions in search of tea - I'd a small caffeine headache and also needed money from the magical money dispensing machine. That accomplished we headed to see a bit of the String Cheese Incident
. I hadn't listened much to them before, but it was a fun and jammy time. It was also nice to sit down for a bit on the trampled and dusty ground with some cool tea. Shortly thereafter, it was already time to head to Iron & Wine
. We met up with Cynthia and Roger there, and talked a little about the day while listening to the great bearded man sing. I really enjoyed them and wished that I'd paid more attention before it was time once again to move to the next show. We hurried over to catch a couple Willie Nelson
songs, because I'm sure that seeing Willie is something you should do before you can't see him any more. We were pretty far back and it was hard to hear, but we saw a couple songs.
Next we went to the headliner of the night, Massive Attack
. I was surprised to see them on the list of bands and was very interested in seeing them. They had a really great stage setup, with bands of lights like stock tickers in the background, and the cameras filming in a strobe-like fashion for the huge screen next to the stage. We met up with my friend Tatum for this show, and had a good ol' time. I was disappointed that they went really political for a while, but I guess they can do what they want with stage time. It's not like you're really spreading much of a message at ACL, where a good deal of people probably already agree with you, are too stoned to be interested, or some combination thereof. Massive Attack put on a great show - I love their sound and style, but was really let down with the political business.
The time was about 10pm, and it was time to be funneled through the human cattle sorters to get to the busses, which were amazingly efficient! They had everyone riding the public transit out of there within the hour - busses were lined up for miles, I'm sure, and they loaded them twelve at a time. It was really surprising how well the masses of people were dealt with, but I guess they've been doing this thing for some time now. We regained our vehicle, and went to meet my best friend and her boyfriend to have a beer and figure out where we were sleeping. We were ass-tired, but I wish we weren't and could've stayed out with them. Adam was kind enough to lend us his place, and after we found it, we both showered (and oh what a shower it was!), and passed out.
We didn't want to get there early, so we got some supplies (a blanket, water, etc), had some lunch, and then shipped off to the show, taking the bus once again. It rained that morning, so it was somewhat humid outside. We got there just in time to see Ween
and The New Pronographers
, which were both fun. However, it was very humid and I felt very gross and sweaty, and the sun kept coming out intermittently. Next it was time for what I was really there for... The Flaming Lips
and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
The Flaming Lips, who I have loved but had never seen, put on just as great a stage show as I expected. It had dancing alien girls and santas, a huge ball with a man in it crowd surfing, huge astronaut, alien, and santa puppets. There was confetti, streamers, fake blood, huge hands, and great songs. They played some favorites like Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (pts 1 & 2), Vaseline, and Do You Realize, and just overall were great with the crowd. Everyone was singing and dancing and having a blast, and the band seemed to be just as happy. They said a few things in the way of politics, but not in the way I was expecting. He wasn't forceful or pushy like Massive Attack, but took more of a "we want to make songs and for people to enjoy them, and we want people to be happy, and we think wars are awful" approach. I appreciated his less aggressive and almost reluctant touch on politics. I hope to see them again sometime very soon, and wish they could have played longer. It was a really enjoyable experience.
We decided to stay put in the hour between the Lips and Tom Petty, knowing that if we left our spots we'd never get anywhere near. A shame we had to miss MUSE, but if we wanted to see any Petty we knew to stay put. We had some more tea and took a break as the sun went down. Storms were rolling in, and we were concerned. Tom Petty came on at 8:30. I grew up on Petty - I remember being out by the pool at our old house or in the car with dad singing along when I was really young, so it was exciting to finally get to see him. He played some great songs, but then the rain started. It took them about 30 minutes to get back together after it stopped - we could only stay for a couple more songs lest we miss the bus, so we headed out at 10. It was great to see what we did.
After that we needed to return our key to Adam, so we met up with them at a little dive on the East side of 35, where they were having a going-away party for a friend. We stayed and had some beers and danced to Sugg's favorite band (one of her friend's bands), the Bell Furies. It was great to see my friends, but we had to leave by midnight, and we hit the road. Got in at about 4am and here I am at work, tired as all hell.
We took tons of photos and I'm sure there is more to relate, but I'll have to do that once we get the photos uploaded and resized! Overall, I had a wonderful weekend, and the weariness is all worth it.