Now that the dust has settled (literally), let’s take a moment to reflect on ACL 2016. This year, festival managers went for a younger crowd and the music skewed heavy on EDM. I wandered around and saw a number of bands, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Melanie Martinez and Cage the Elephant all played fabulous sets, full of energy and showmanship.
This year, I didn’t have a must-see band, so honestly, I went because I had a Top Trip Rentals VIP pass and I LOVE the VIP area of ACL. If you have the money, (about $450/day vs. $100/day) it is so worth it. Here lies the promised land, just beyond the VIP gatekeepers–air conditioned flush toilets, free drinks from Tito’s Vodka and Troublemaker Wines, free food from local vendors like Ranch 616 and catered meals from Central Market. It’s called the “Grove” and it’s shady, and relatively quiet and has big-screen TVs set up for football and others showing the stages. It’s an oasis for sure in a sea of people and heat.
There are moments of pure transcendence at ACL, and for me, ironically, I end up spending as much time watching the crowds and clouds, as I do the bands. Don’t get me wrong, the music is great. But, Austin has a lot of great music happening at all hours in all places across town.
What makes ACL such a great place to experience music is the setting. ACL is set up in Austin’s Zilker Park, on the edge of Town Lake, with a great view of Austin’s ever changing skyline across the river. It’s really a gorgeous site.
October 13, 2016