Day 2 of ACL started off a little different than the day prior. Instead of hopping a cab to Zilker bright and early, we headed to South Congress to have some lunch. We went to Magnolia Cafe, which is my most favorite place in Austin to eat. We ordered a few skillets of MagMud (queso on top of black beans, with some pico and avocados thrown in to the mix as well) and ate like kings… which might not have been a great plan since we were going to be standing in the sun all day. Just a little pre-sun hot cheese is all! Either way, it was all delicious.
While we were on South Congress, we tried to find somebody who wanted to win a 3-day pass to ACL. RadioShack had given us one to give away, and we felt that somebody really needed to EARN it. I mean, come on – face on those things was $185 – this ride ain’t free, baby! (incidentally, my ride was free, but we’re not actually talking about that now, are we?) So, we decided that somebody would need to dance for us if they wanted the tickets. We made a sign that said FREE ACL PASS (MUST DANCE FOR TICKET) and wandered down South Congress. People looked at the sign and kept walking. What the hell, man? Free tickets! We even tried to convince a few people that they DID want the tickets and that dancing was easy. No, they’d say, I don’t want to be on camera. We came across a group of people who had tickets but their friend Dave, who was down the street getting his hair cut, didn’t have one and wanted one. Would they dance for one? Nope. Sorry Dave. We finally found a guy who would dance for the ticket. He needed my assistance, so I let him spin me around in the Magnolia parking lot. We handed off the ticket, then headed to Zilker Park for day two of music.
We arrived and wandered around a bit. There was sporadic drizzling, just enough to cool the day down a bit (then make it incredibly muggy). We saw Iron & Wine then headed over to set up shop at the Stevie Wonder stage. Before he played, we got to see Cee Lo’s show… which was fun… I guess. I’m not a huge Cee Lo fan, but I will say he was entertaining. His band consisted of a bunch of pretty ladies dressed up in some skanky-ass outfits (skin-tight body suits with low enough scoop necks that the black bra underneath was displayed, short tight dresses). The camera man seemed to enjoy that part as well, as every time I would look up at the big screen, the camera would be stationed RIGHT on one of the girls’ asses or filming her playing a guitar, also conveniently having her heaving bosoms featured prominently in the shot. Whatever, though. Good for them for being so fit and sexy, right?
After Cee Lo played, we waited for Stevie. Steev-eh. We had a pretty decent spot in the crowd, in the center and halfway between the sound booth and the stage. He was supposed to go on at 8, which meant that at about 7:45 people started chanting STEVIE, STEVIE, STEVIE, STEVIE. Dudes. That won’t make him come out any faster. Quiet down now. At 8, we started getting antsy. 8:05? Made sure my watch wasn’t running slow. 8:10, I started wondering if we would have a repeat of the Strokes show last year, which was SO late and then finished early. No no no, I thought – Stevie wouldn’t do that to us. Finally around 8:20, Stevie came out onto the stage… playing a keytar. WHAT!? All is forgiven! He played music, we danced. Although he did play a bonus Michael Jackson song (The Way You Make Me Feel), which he didn’t seem to know all the words to, I was a little disappointed that he didn’t play Isn’t She Lovely in its entirety (he did sing a few lines of it though). Either way, it was a good show and I was glad to have been able to see it. He had also gotten permission to play 20 minutes past 10, so he was able to finish his entire set. Nice.
Kenneth and I grabbed a pedicab to the bridge (which bridge? I don’t know. The one that goes over the river… is exactly what I told the pedicab driver) so we didn’t have to walk all 3 miles back to our hotel. The 1.5 miles wasn’t so bad, though, and we stopped off at a hot dog stand to grab some dinner on the way back. My only regret is not getting a chili dog, which, as you may know, is not a food you can walk with while eating without just causing a massive disaster.
Day 3 started out nice enough. Kenneth and I were on our own for breakfast/early lunch, so we decided to do the best thing for ourselves, as we’d be standing in the heat for the next 10 hours – eat some TexMex! We both ignored our sensibilities and ordered enchilada plates (2 whole plates of hot cheese and grease, comin’ right up!), which we were extremely sorry for afterwards. It ended up not being too bad a thing, as the food was good and the amount of terrible food we ate sustained us through most of the day. The bands we watched were Broken Social Scene, Fleet Foxes, Social Distortion, and of course Arcade Fire, who was the headliner of the entire festival. All were as expected and put on great shows. We were further back in the crowds than I generally like to be, as we chose instead to lay out our towels and lounge in the grass so as not to tempt the ire of the enchilada gods. There was light drizzle throughout the day, keeping everything nice and cool, and the evening turned out to have the best weather we could have asked for. Arcade Fire played an extraordinary show, for what we saw of it. We left about halfway through, as we had to get back to the hotel, pack our stuff, and head back to San Antonio so I could go to work the next day.
I also got a special funtime bonus on the last day, as my friend and social media monster Nan Palmero introduced me to his friends at Slacker Radio. Scott, Anders, and Jonathan were a delight to meet and chat with, and Jonathan even had an extra media bracelet for me to wear for the day. That meant that I got to sneak into the media area (I guess it’s not sneaking in if I have proper credentials, huh?) and watch bands being interviewed by bloggers and radio stations. When I walked in, I saw a big tent covering a bunch of picnic tables filled with people on their laptops and ipads. Oooh, *the media.* I admired their workingness and walked over to the Slacker Radio tent. Not two minutes after I found and started chatting with Jonathan, a lady walked by offering us mango paletas. What? This is what the media tent is like?! FREE PALETAS EVERYWHERE?!? Shit. I’m totally gunning for a media pass next year. (I mean, media tent had some of the same accommodations as the VIP area, with some free food and free beverages, but still – it was really the gift of paleta that sealed the deal in my heart.)
All-in-all, ACL was such a great experience this year. I’d be a total spoiled asshole to say that it wasn’t… and I actually can’t think of anything that would have made it better. I’m totally grateful to Radio Shack (as well as Paige and Alix, my handlers) for making this special event happen for me, as well as Slacker Radio for contributing their two cents to my enjoyment. Also, I couldn’t have done it without Kenneth, my cohort, my partner in hot dogs and TexMex, my hotel bar companion.
The other day, I purchased my ticket for next year’s ACL Festival. October 12-14, 2012 are already blocked off on my calendar. A few more months and I’ll start fretting about the lineup, and a few months after that I’ll start worrying that I’m not ready for the festival, that my festival tolerance may have dropped. But you know, I’m pretty sure I’ll have a good time – ACL is one of those places that it’s difficult to attend and be bored or angry at. Yay Austin! Yay music!