First-timers at Austin City Limits Festival

ACL Fest

KP and I went to the second weekend of the Austin City Limits — or ACL — Festival this past weekend. I absolutely hate crowds, so ordinarily I’d run as far and fast in the opposite direction as I could, but ACL feels like a rite of passage if I’m going to call myself an Austinite. And I love music, and Mumford and Sons was in the line-up and both KP and I have wanted to see them for some time.┬áPlus, this type of thing used to be the scene for the cool girl hidden deep inside of me. So I bought us one-day passes before they sold out.

My young, hip niece and nephew went the weekend before us — it spans two weekends — so luckily we had their pointers to lead us in the right direction. We knew where to park (and how far we’d have to walk from said parking) and to set up cashless payment on the app and all that good stuff. We were ready.

We could not have had more perfect weather for our day at the festival. The sun was shining, the skies were blue and it wasn’t too hot (ah, “fall” in Texas…). It wasn’t even terribly crowded when we arrived early afternoon. Before we got into the festival gates, though, we had to pay a quick visit to the ticket help desk… because we are old and don’t even know how to put on music festival wristbands without ruining them. Seriously.

ACL Fest

Like I said, it wasn’t too crowded when we got there and even the line for one of the many bars — our first stop, naturally — was non-existent. Food lines were fast, too, and you could choose from just about every type of food imaginable. I opted for nachos, my personal vice.

While Mumford and Sons was the draw for us, there were some other solo artsists and bands I was interested in seeing. Pete Yorn has been a favorite of mine for a long time and he did not disappoint.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats were good fun. They have such a soulful sound; it’s impossible to not want to clap your feet or tap your toes when you listen to them — especially live. And, fun fact: they’re from Hermann, Missouri.

Willie Nelson was, sadly, disappointing. The best part of his set for me was when Matthew McConaughey introduced him. By no means am I a huge Willie Nelson fan, but I felt obligated to listen; he’s a legend! He’s also 83 years old. It was difficult to hear him, so we bailed. Those kimchi fries were calling my name!

The show stealers for me were HAIM. I had been listening to them a bit before ACL so I was excited to see them, and they did not disappoint. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re these three badass sisters and they have a fun pop/rock sound to them. KP says they’re like a throwback to the 80s, which is kind of accurate. I like them because I think their sound is unique. And again, they are just badass! I would not at all be upset if my guitar-loving daughter went in that direction…

By time Mumford and Sons took the stage, I felt as if I had spent the afternoon smoking countless bowls of weed. I know it’s Austin and we like to keep it weird, and I know there’s always an abundance of pot at these types of festivals, but wow. I was blown away — almost literally. It was so prevalent, so strong. Just too much. Is that why so many people had bandanas covering their noses and mouths? So, we watched a good chunk of Mumford but left before they were finished. They were good, but we were tired, and did I mention, old?

Good times were had by all, for sure. I’m already thinking about ACL 2017, but maybe I’ll be one of the folks wearing the makeshift medical mask next time!