I’ll admit, while I was getting ready for bed on Friday night (ACL2010: Day 1), I was wondering to myself WHY in the hell I had decided to do ACL again this year. I was exhausted, filthy, dehydrated, and there was no end in sight. Two more whole days of what we had just fought through. I was in it for the long haul, though, and there was no backing out now.
Saturday morning we woke up a little later than the day before, closer to 7:40. We left the house around 8:15, and without the added stress of getting lost, we parked and strolled to Zilker Park, still making it to the ACL grounds and setting up at the front of the gate line before 9:30. I’m not going to say exactly what we did to pass the 1.5 hours of time before we were allowed in that day, but I will say that there might have been naps in the grass involved.
At a few minutes after 11, the gates were opened and our runners (again, Kelsey and Rocky) took off to the Budweiser Stage where Muse would be playing that evening. When I arrived at our stage a few minutes later, I saw the rest of my team sitting at a great spot against the front fence… surrounded by around a dozen high schoolers. I immediately resented these kids, assuming that they would provide no good conversation through the day, and would prove to be the squirmy little teenagers that I figured they’d be. Luckily, against the fence beside us were a pair of “grownups.” We befriended Chris and Jodi and found at least a little respite from the talk about history papers and general social awkwardness. (While I’m thinking of social awkwardness, I’m reminded that after sitting at the fence for maybe 20 minutes, Derrick showed up. “Hey guys!” He waved at us and waited for us to say hello back so he could cut into the crowd and push his way through the four-layers-deep teenagers behind us. Not being totally terrible people, we reluctantly waved our acceptance of him and he nestled his weird awkward body next to us. Ugh. Another day of that, huh?) Chris –our new friend sitting next to us– was being fawned over by all the teenagers, as he had let them know that this was the 18th Muse concert he’d attended. For whatever reason, he had his entrance passes from when Muse had performed at Wembley, along with other souvenirs they had picked up at other Muse shows. The teens, who probably hadn’t been alive for as many years as he had been to shows, were asking him all kinds of questions, taking pictures with his souvenirs, maybe hoping he’d give them to him out of kindness. Either way, Chris turned out to be a real ok guy and probably the best person we could have sat next to that day.
The day went pretty well, with only a few things happening that just really got my goat. Derrick (Fucking Derrick) decided that he’d rather drink our well-planned pre-frozen ice water than his own tepid bottle he had brought. We allowed it, as none of us had the energy to be a jerk then continue sitting next to this guy for the rest of the day. Meanwhile, the bags of beef jerky in Derrick’s backpack were left unoffered to us. Why I oughta…
The most trying part of the night was during Muse. While a few of the teenagers had won our tolerance by offering us some of their 800 glowsticks they had purchased for this show (one girl told me “I wish you guys went to our high school so you could tell everyone there how cool we are”), one blonde boy-teenager chose to be a problem. He had decided he wanted to be in the front row. Uh, no. He did the next best thing (in his head) by using my shoulder as leverage to push himself up every time he jumped up and down (which was for the entire show. Seriously). I was doing my best to throw myself back to knock him away, careful not to hit his precious face, as I didn’t want to be the one with blood on my shirt that day. Luke, who was standing beside me, was doing his part by shooting Blondie looks that would kill puppies. Although I’d like to think I did a great job maintaining my spot and keeping that idiot back, I’m sure it had more to do with the tall, intimidating boy next to me doing his part as well.
The Very Best – Sleeper act of the weekend! With a frontman from South Africa, a DJ, and two African dancers, this Afro-pop act drew in a huge crowd for a 12:30 show. They had a great sound, and although I couldn’t understand him even when he was singing/speaking in English, I had an awesome time. It was a fantastic surprise!
The Gaslight Anthem – I was familiar with one of their songs, and was able to bounce along to the rest. Standard rock band out of Jersey. We let two of their superfans stand in front of us during that show, which made the act a bit more fun. I liked the bass player’s tattoos. Sleevey.
Silversun Pickups – Though I had friends who were looking forward to this show, I was bored by it. Muddled rock, no catchy riffs. I bounced a bit, but only because I could hear a slight beat under the mess of instruments. Meh.
LCD Soundsystem – This was a fun show. Poppy dance music. Lasers at dusk. A guy who occasionally played a keyboard but mostly just danced around on stage. These guys I would pay to see separately – I’m sure they could really tear up an indoor venue.
Muse – My first Muse show, and it was everything I had been promised. Lasers, smoke, neon-rimmed keytars (ok, I hadn’t been promised that, but I should have been), and general awesomeness. The video screens behind the band held my attention for longer than they should have, but the vintage medical testing videos they showed wouldn’t let me look away. My friend later explained to me all the Illuminati references that were exuding from every piece of the show – that’s a thing, I guess. There were lots of giant balloons bouncing around the stage, and the show ended with gigantic smoke plumes which each necessitated its own gas tank.
Making friends with Chris and Jodi was the best thing we could have done that day. They were from Houston and weren’t planning on staying for the ACL shows on Sunday, so they gave us their 4 Sunday VIP passes, along with their parking pass. WOW, WHAT? VIP passes run about $850 each (for 3 days), so this was not a gift we took lightly. Being friendly to strangers really DOES pay off!