ACL opened to a gorgeous, cloudless day in Austin Friday.
The endless flow of crowds were enormous. People of all ages (albeit it mostly seemed like kids ages 16-22 were the majority) came out in droves to take in the spectacular annual urban city festival that is Austin City Limits. They were all decked out in circular sunglasses, bandanas, sun dresses and trucker hats, too.
This is my first year covering ACL, and I’m still processing a lot of it from my first impression. But it’s a slick festival. It’s by far one of the cleanest fests I’ve been to, and the size and layout of the stages makes for a near endless onslaught of amazing music from all angles.
Two things that were especially nice about the festival: the hydration stations and the festival merch store.
While they were always crowded, upon walking up to the hydration station, you're met with swamp fans blowing some cool, damp air your way. So it's already great. Then, usually about five minutes of wait time, you get your water bottle or water backpack ready and you’re greeted by a staff member whose sole job is to greet you, chat with you, and fill your container up with purified water via a coily water hose. Normally, most festivals will provide a spigot over a mud pit for self-service.
As for the merch store, this thing was a full-on building. The fest sort of corrals you in, as a security and crowd control measure. Once you’re in, it’s an air controlled boutique, full of (honestly, pretty pricey) apparel, knick knacks and keepsakes with the ACL brand. Give this a look if you get the chance. It’s pretty nice, and pretty orderly in there despite the volume of traffic.
I’m soon to head back out to Saturday’s portion of the events, so I’m going to break down all I saw at ACL yesterday. One tip if you’re reading this — take time to take breaks. I always try and see everything as much as possible, and it’s just too hard. Your body will let you know in the morning after.
I will go into depth on how great these sets were in my weekend recap feature, but my favorites from yesterday were undoubtedly Vulfpeck, Lukas Nelson and Ryan Adams. Jay-Z also made it abundantly clear he has nothing left to prove, as he's forever the king of hip-hop.
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