Austin City Limits Music Festival 2009 was one to remember to say the least. I was looking forward to this for several different reasons. One of them being was that this was the first ACL festival I would be attending. You would think that after living in Austin for half of my life and for as long as ACL has been going on, I would have attended at least one by now. Honestly the only thing that prevented me from going in the past was the weather. Ironic, being that we had 2 days of mud; more on that later. In the past ACL was always held in September and that means HEAT, extreme HEAT to be precise. I'm not a fan of standing around in the heat, I experienced that with the second and third Lollapallooza. So once they announced that ACL would be held in early October I decided to take my chances on the weather and go ahead and get a 3 day wristband. Keep in mind I went ahead and ordered my 3 day pass 6 months in advance not really knowing which bands would be performing but for me that didn't matter. I was determined to have a good time with friends that weekend so I knew there would be a fair amount of music I would enjoy for the 3 days. After the bands were announced I started making a list of which bands I wanted to see and started familiarizing myself with some of the other bands. It's all about preparation and planning for me. As the months went by I started sending out emails asking all my friends if they were going and if they were, on which days? It seemed like a good majority of my friends were all going for some part of ACL. Sweet! So along comes September and after several band cancellations, some of which were on my must see list; (get well soon Adam Yauch) I had my list dialed in, heck I even had my iPhone ACL app primed and ready. I also found out that a couple of my old road dogs from Round Rock were coming into town just for the festival. I was super stoked about this because I hadn't seen them in over 5 years so I was looking forward to hanging out with them and catching up.
The week of ACL I realized from a friend of mine Charlie that if you had the 3 day pass you would have to exchange your ticket for a wristband. Not a problem, I had vacation specifically for ACL and I already had it all planned out. Again it's all about the preparation. So Wednesday I headed downtown after work and parked at the bike shop. I figured it would be easier to ride the bike over to Zilker to get my wristband instead of parking there. I was right, the traffic on Barton Springs was already getting a little hectic with the setup and it took me about 5 minutes to get there and less than that to get my wristband. Thursday my road dogs Vince and David were both arriving from out of town. Vince and his wife were arriving that morning and David that evening. The plan was to meet up sometime Friday morning and then head down to the park. Not only was Friday the first day of ACL but Friday October 2nd happened to be Livestrong Day. So in preparation of Livestrong Day I planned on riding my age (not specifying) and then wearing yellow at ACL in support of 10-2. As I was getting my things prepared for the following day I saw a message from Lance on Twitter stating "for Livestrong Day let's do a bike ride, meet up at Mellow Johnny's at 8:15 am, come one, come all!" Oh snap!!! that changed everything. So Friday morning I headed down to the shop early. I even helped out with some of the preparations that morning. I would say that a couple hundred people showed up at the shop? All waiting the arrival of Lance and for a once in a life time chance to ride with him. So Lance pulls up to the shop just before 8:30, does a quick interview and then says "alright, let's ride!" I was the only person out there on a fixed gear but I didn't care. I busted out the Flip and shot some video of the ride. How cool is this? I'm getting to ride with Lance on Livestrong day and I made it a point to get up close and ride with him.
You couldn't ask for better weather for the ride and for the 1st day of ACL. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. I met up with Vince, Gretchen, David, Vince's dad and Vince's brother at the bike shop. They all wanted to see the shop and I even got to show them the new bike before we left. Upon arrival at Zilker it was already heating up and there were thousands of people already there. Walking into the park was like walking into a lush golf course. It literally was like a concert on a private golf course. The grass was so green and soft, it was amazing. Friday was such an amazing day, here I am starting off the day with a great ride with Lance and now I'm hanging out with some old friends on a perfect day. I even ran into some other friends at the show by accident so we all decided to hang and watch Blitzen Temper. As the day went by we all pretty much hung out together and caught the same shows. Phoenix was amazing and Bassnectar went off. We didn't stay long for Bassnectar because we lost Gretchen, that seemed to be the theme that day "hey where did Gretchen go?" "I don't know she was here just a minute ago!" lol. Turns out she went and got a close spot for Thievery Corporation at the LIVESTRONG stage. Now this was a band I was really looking forward to seeing, being that I have never seen them live before. Vince and I were determined to find her. Trust me maneuvering through thousands of people is not a simple task and Vince is 6'4 and was carrying a bag and a chair. So many people were giving us the dirtiest looks! hahaha love it! I told Vince, "dude we're finding her, let's do this!" So after about 10 minutes of shifting in and out of the crowd we spotted her and man she wasn't joking, she got a close spot! About 50 yards from the stage to be exact! Rock on Gretchen! Props for getting a killer spot. Told you we would find her Vince. Thievery killed it! They were one of the highlights the entire weekend.
After Thievery we all decided to get some food and the lines were insane. I wolfed down my food like it was my last meal and decided to sprint over to the Xbox 360 stage to catch Them Crooked Vultures. This was a band I absolutely did not want to miss. I mean come on, Dave Grohl back on the drums! Yes please! We decided to meet up at base camp in an hour and then just chill and watch Kings of Leon from there. Them Crooked Vultures absolutely murdered it. They put on an amazing show and I was blown away. I see your Thievery Corporation and I raise you Them Crooked Vultures! I didn't stay for all of King's in fact I only stayed for about 5 songs. Main reason, I didn't want to leave with over 50k people at the same time, good decision.
Saturday called for rain all day and boy did it ever. I met up with a co-worker of mine since he lives downtown and we just caught a cab to the event. That day we walked around and caught several bands and it rained on us the entire time. The rain was light at times and at times it was a heavy downpour. I dressed for the occasion though and even brought my umbrella so I pretty much stayed dry. It wasn't muddy for the most part but with the way the rain was coming down I knew the grass wouldn't hold up and that it would soon be a mud pit. Some of the highlights for Saturday were Mute Math, Papa Mali, Bell X1, and Airborne Toxic Event. The low point of Saturday, no not the rain, was Mos Def! This was one show I didn't want to miss and I was looking forward to it for quite some time. I even skipped a show and waited over an hour for him to perform. I say over an hour because he was about 30 minutes late. One thing ACL had going on the entire weekend, was that each artist started exactly at the time slot they were allotted. Not Mos though, for whatever reason he was late and when he came out he was lackluster to say the least. I have never seen so many disappointed fans in my life. In fact when they showed video of the crowd on the big screen it looked like a crowd full of zombies. I left upset after about 5 songs. 2 thumbs down for Mos. After that I decided to try and get some food and that's when I noticed the mud pits. By the time I got to the food area, I was drenched because I put up my umbrella for the Mos show and I was muddy. I opted out of the food and decided to try and find my friends but one thing that was a major problem that weekend was cell reception. There were several dead spots in the park and texts were delayed by at least 10-15 minutes. So by the time you got a text informing you where your crew was at, they were already at the next show. I decided to head out early because my legs were spent. I caught some of Dave Matthews Band on the way out and that's when I got a cluster of texts "Where you at?" "We're at Ghostland" "hey come back and check out a couple of songs of DMB" Oh well too late.
Sunday, day 3 of ACL, started off with some light rain but that ended quickly. What we showed up to wasn't the lush, golf course type of park we saw on Friday. Instead we showed up to a mud pit and the stench was horrendous. Turns out the stench was from the fertilizer "dillo dirt". I knew that's what it was but I wasn't going to let that ruin my day. I had already anticipated getting muddy. Sunday I had some more friends I was meeting up with and met up with my co-worker again. We started off the day by watching Black Joe Lewis who put on a great show. Some of the highlights for Sunday were: B52's, White Lies, Passion Pit, Girl Talk and Pearl Jam. Artic Monkeys was a little dissapointing, they sounded great but their stage presence was lacking. The amount of people that showed up for Girl Talk was insane, it looked like all of Austin was at the Xbox 360 stage for that show.
After catching Girl Talk we decided to catch Peral Jam from a distance. For the most part we listened to Pearl Jam from the hike and bike trail which is behind the LIVESTRONG stage. We listned to about 5 songs on the way out and they sounded great.
I must say I had a great time during ACL especially since it was my first ACL. Friday was absolutely amazing on so many different levels. Saturday and Sunday, despite the rain and mud was still fun and I got to see and hang out with several friends. Some old, some new. What more could you ask for? I enjoyed every minute of it. Oh and I ended up scoring the "Souvenir 3 day pass" for next years ACL festival for $50! SCORE!