First and foremost to remember when attending Austin City Limits music festival: preparation is key, and attitude is everything. Many of the following tips may seem like common sense or self-explanatory, but by following them you have the power to predetermine what type of experience to have throughout the weekend:
1. Do Your Research
Familiarize yourself with the layout of Zilker Park, including the specific locations of each stage, restrooms, food, and art booths. Don’t forget to check out the Waterloo Autograph Signings – located by the merch tent – to meet and greet with your favorite bands.
Develop a definite plan of how you’re getting to and from the festival. Note that parking is scarce, road closures are plenty, and traffic is a headache. So plan on utilizing the Free Shuttle at Republic Square Park on 4th and Guadalupe, the MetroRail, taxis, Uber, pedicabs, or the bus for any and all transportation.
ACL has an astounding selection of food establishments on-site for your enjoyment. Anticipate long lines and waiting times, but give yourself a heads up of what’s available to narrow down your decision making process. Prices are all basically within the same range so a couple of dollars difference shouldn’t dictate your choice – indulge! Here’s a complete list of vendors along with their festival menus.
2. Formulate a Schedule
Your ACL experience can be as structured or free form as you desire, but it’s always best to plan out your days according to which bands you want to see, when, and where. Don’t miss out on these unique concerts because you accidentally overlooked their performance. Major headliners are purposefully scheduled to overlap one other for crowd control purposes, so pick and choose who you want to see at the festival, and who you would rather see in an after-show setting. Check out the festival lineup compared to the late night events.
3. Group Dynamics
Be careful in choosing the crowd you are attending with and how you all will stay in communication with one another. Make sure you share similar interests, tastes, and paces in who to see, when to eat, and how to have a good time. Trust me when I say that your phone will die, you will not have service, and you will get permanently separated from the pack if careless. So make sure these people will stick together and always reach a consensus on what to do and where to meet if you do decide to divide and conquer. Keep in mind that while the more is often merrier, less is always more. Perhaps a smaller, tight-knit group would be best conducive to your agenda, wherein you won’t have to sacrifice your outnumbered vote for the majority rule. Regardless, do yourself a favor and invest in a portable battery charger to avoid any heat-induced anxiety attacks over a phone ironically dying as your favorite band comes onstage.
4. Be Considerate
ACL is the great equalizer of us all. Be kind and helpful to your fellow festival goers. Wait your turn, exercise patience and compassion. Dress appropriately, set your personal limits, and don’t cross them. When in the audience, respect personal space and eliminate aggression. Filming the set in its entirety on your iPad or GoPro may be frowned upon, and you’ll probably enjoy your favorite song much more if you have the memory of watching it real-time rather than on a screen.
5. Make the Most of Every Minute
ACL is the best way to kick off autumn in Austin, Texas. Know that things might not go according to plan or expectations, but just go with the flow and you are sure to have an amazing time! There’s always weekend two if you wish to double the fun!
WHO TO SEE:
Blank Range: A fine five-piece band from Nashville, Tennessee. Playing both Fridays from 2:15-3:15, with aftershows at The Continental Club (with Benjamin Booker) and Lamberts.
Phantogram: This Greewich duo is sure to please. See ’em Sundays from 5-6 p.m.
Real Estate: Catch these NYC natives before they headline an extensive European tour. October 5 from 5-6 p.m. & October 12 from 3-4 p.m.
Temples: English lads with a considerably quick rise to fame. Be front and center both Fridays at 1:15.