Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky, but the thought of having to suffer through another weekend of Austin City Limits Music festival this weekend is making me cringe. The festival is a good thing, and yeah, live music (I’ll come back to that in a second), blah, blah, bah. But, my god, come Friday the douchebag meter in this town is doing to be pegged for 36-hours straight and I’m not sure I can take it this year.
First there’s the traffic. It’s not like we don’t have that lovely urban-inconvenience on weekdays already, but when Mopac looks like a parking lot at 7am on Sunday, one becomes frustrated. And, should you find yourself needing anything form the 78704, i would suggest walking and don’t forget your skinny jeans! Also, I guess, wherever you people are coming from (dallas?) they don’t have one-way streets? We do. We have sings to keep you from killing yourselves in head-on collisions, but so help me god, if I see one more of you turn the wrong way down sixth street, in your daddy-bought-Escalade with ironically placed environmental bumper stickers, I’m going to run into traffic, jump on your hood and pee on your windshield.
And then there’s the park. I really like this park, I feel like its a cherished part of our city (our city, not yours). So when the city closed it for 90% of the summer to spend $2 million building a pump station, sprinkler system and to re-sod the fields, I waited patiently for it to reopen. And waited, and waited. Until about three weeks before the park would close again for ACL, the city finally let us mere mortals (you know the people who pay for the park) have access to it, only to see it fenced up again a short time later, to adequately prepare for the 65,000 pairs of hipster feet. ACL fest, you’re not winning points with me here.
Reading this you might think me anti-live music, but that’s not the case. I’m anti Festival. I love the live music experience you get in Austin – small venues, or outdoor settings like Blues on the Green, or quirky shows like the one Friday in the old Seaholm Powerplant. Even Fun Fun Fun Fest looks easier to take than the death-march-through-the-park that is ACL where in between your $4 Lonestars, you’ll be treated to 45-minute from a stage anywhere from 100 yards to 6 miles away. The headliner acts play for a bit longer, but you have to have either claimed a close seat now (like seriously go NOW if you want to be in the front for Dave Matthew’s or Pearl Jam), or you’ll end up sitting somewhere near downtown Dripping Springs watching it on a jumbotron, sipping your $6 Heineken (cause you have to upgrade beers for the headliners), wondering why the hell you didn’t just watch the whole thing on Hulu? Even the name, referencing the classic PBS concert show is really a bastardization – the old ACL venue holds about 100 people and has a great production value that and outdoor festival 65,000 people wrecking my park isn’t going to match.
Cranky old man aside, it’s not all bad. The music itself always lead me to new stuff, particularly from the annual Texas Music Matters piece – The List. The after-shows are numerous and generally lower in cost and a helluva lot better than standing in a hot and/or/muddy field 30,000 of your closes friends. And of course there’s the Chicken Cones. But I’m sure by Monday when I drive over the muddy wreckage of Zilker park (which I’m sure will be closed for another 3 months so they can re-re-sod it), i’ll be happy put this one behind us.