My favorite part about ACL is being out in Zilker Park, watching everyone dancing and smiling, seeing what new outfits are breaking out, and running into friends. It’s so amazing how C3 brings this festival with 8 stages full of all kinds of music to one place for three days each weekend. You have local musicians like the up-and-coming The Bros Fresh and long time band Spoon all in one place. I don’t even love country music but because I’ve been spending so much time at C-Boys and White Horse this past year, it has started to rub off on me, and I actually really loved some of these country, folk, and bluegrass groups. While I think the intimate music venues are the best place to kind of feel the music and get to know an artist, being outside and seeing these people sing and dance at the top of their lungs while the sun sets is a sight you really can’t see anywhere else but here. The weather at Austin City Limits was absolutely fantastic this year! Friday of the first weekend the sun was hiding so it allowed for a sunglass-less, not too sweaty kind of day!
T-Mobile stage actually had my favorite shows! Billy Strings had a five piece band with banjos, violins, guitars and were so upbeat and jivey. Nathaniel Ratliffe & The Night Sweats are a band I found from listening to Shakey Graves. His bellows and powerful voice can’t help but put a smile on the crowds faces and upbeat dancing.
We took a beat after this and enjoyed the luxurious Tito’s Vodka tent thanks to a buddy of mine who scored us some passes for the weekend. To be honest, this is one of my favorite parts not just because of the free drinks (obviously), but it’s a nice place to rest, huddle, and run into friends where you can talk and not be in a crowd. This year they had an incredible menu of fresh juice cocktails that happened to be made by my friend Collin Young called Twisted Alchemy. I loved the Tito’s Mint Lemonade with their fresh lemon juice, and mint-infused soda. The Sparkling Sandia with Fresh Watermelon and Lime Juice with Sparkling water was my second favorite and the Espresso Martini was a life saver for the end of the night.
For the last three years, I have always made up my mind that I’m getting that Wholly Cow Burger. Man, it’s SO good, and no, I have never been to the location just by my house. It’s become a regular treat at the fest and is a good everyday kinda burger-great, soft bun and flavorful beef patty that isn’t juicy or rich so makes it ideal for out there. My favorite thing I ate though were the Elote Tator Tots from The Cavelier. They came with roasted corn, queso fresco, mayo, cilantro, and lime. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and a good combo with the corn! To end the first Friday, we saw The Chicks! I have not listened to them since maybe high school? It was so special and nostalgic to see them and sing Cowboy Take Me Away and Wide Open Spaces when I didn’t realize I even knew the words still. What melted me most was that there was so much family up on stage with the singer’s son and husband. What a sweet moment.
If I learned anything last year, it’s that the Silent Disco IS actually of the most fun parts of the weekend. While it looks super silly, once you get those headphones on and switch between the three DJ stations, you can’t help but drop it low. We heard Chop Suey from System of a Down to Rihanna’s S&M and jumped for joy to burn off those extra tator tot calories. I really love walking and dancing around out there, and as long as you don’t go to the food area at prime time 6 p.m., the festival is really so easy and accommodating.
On Day 2, we entered on the west side entrance by Mopac which is ALWAYS a much faster line. We caught a couple songs of Sofi Tukker who was wearing a pink and orange outfit that kind of reminded me of a parachute. We skipped to Manchester Orchestra which was again at T-Mobile and a cool instrumental experience. However, my favorite show of the weekend which was unexpected since Flume is one of my all time favorite bands, was The War on Drugs. You could just feel every beat in your soul, and it felt like the music was really talking to me. Then the sun set which always makes it more magical. I have a lot of friends that say they are too old for ACL Festival and it makes me so sad to hear! The beauty of this festival, is that you can make it however you want it to be. You can hang in the shade, sit on a blanket, find some cool activations, find your next new favorite band, check out a lot of Austin food (they had a whole BBQ area this year), and dance your heart out while making new friends. I will always go every year. It’s one thing I love most about Austin and that I can even walk from my house! Clocked in 10 miles the first night 😊
I skipped the first Sunday because as much as y’all think I’m a beast, I stayed up way too late at Deep Eddy Cabaret Saturday night and needed to house some Sap’s Thai Khao Soi as recovery that night. My good friend Hyo Jin had been staying with me from Mexico City for two weeks since she is a nomad and had never been to Austin. As luck would have it, she entered a contest on Instagram I sent her and won tickets to Weekend 2, so I finally got to see Red Hot Chili Peppers!
The weather the second Sunday evening was warm and then quickly turned to peaceful and sleek. We jumped into a few songs with Paramore which seemed to be everyone’s favorite both weekends. Then, we visited my friend Sheena who owns Bésame, the creamy ice cream truck usually parked at Meanwhile Brewery. American Express hired them to give out free scoops at their tent which was so cool to see a small business like hers get recognition and hired by such a big company! She served her famous Over the Rainbow flavor which is rainbow sprinkles, snickerdoodle cookie dough, and vanilla ice cream. THAT is my favorite flavor she makes, and she also had a blue one to go with the tent that was like a sherbet.
We took it easy and brought a blanket for the first time ever (no Silent Disco this night!) and chilled out in front of T-Mobile while watching Marcus Mumford do his solo stuff. Did I mention that my favorite shows this year were all at T-Mobile stage? Then, we enjoyed the real reason we came to see the infamous 80’s band, Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’ve been listening to this band since I was a kid, and when I told my older brother I was most excited to see them, he couldn’t believe I still listened to them. But boy, I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANTHONY KIEDIS. Wow, I can’t believe how good looking that man is, and he’s 59! I have to say, he’s the definition of a rockstar with his neon green tube socks, tight muscles (how was he 59?), long hair, and ripping off his shirt in the middle of the set. I mean, I guess he knows what he is doing. It was bassist, Flea’s, birthday which was fun (ALSO 60). He mentioned a thank you to Paramore who sang happy birthday to him during her set which was swe
I loved screaming the lyrics to Californication and Zephyr. Even though the speaker/sounds system was a little sketch for the first couple songs, it was a lovely way to end my ACL 2022 overlooking the skyline with a long walk home back to Bouldin. I love this city, and I will never be too old or miss ACL. I remember in college when there was just 1 weekend of music and just a few vendors such as Sweet Leaf Tea and The Mighty Cone. Wow, C3 has done an incredible job building out this festival which, to be honest, people are afraid of the word “festival” because they think of Coachella. Austin City Limits is its own category with the accessibility in the middle of the city, all ages from toddlers to grandparents, country music to rappers, and there is something for everyone to eat, drink, and see!