I like music, but not music festivals. THERE I SAID IT; IT’S TRUE. I turned 30 and all of a sudden I was like, “I no longer desire to stand around in the rain all day with 5000 other people to maybe see someone play the guitar. Also, Porta-Potties are the gateway to hell.” It’s just not my scene, dude.
But Austin has a lot of great festivals, it’s true, and they’re kind of hard to pass up when really great artists are coming through. If you’re like me and you sort of hate music festivals but also sort of love music, you too can survive the upcoming ACL Festival.
Plan ahead. That’s it. Plan ahead! God, I’m so boring and old. But seriously, just plan ahead. Do I sound like your dad yet? Plan ahead. It will save you time, money, headache, footache and sanity. Here are the things you need to plan for:
Weather: The ACL Festival takes place in October in Austin, and it’s flipping hot. Hot and really sunny and humid and just gross. But you know what? Also sometimes it rains and Zilker Park gets super muddy and wet. And sometimes both of these things happen in the same day. You know who knew that shit before it started happening? Google, who lives in your phone and will tell you the same weather information it told me, prior to that weather happening. It’s like witchcraft except that it’s not; it’s freaking technology so just check the weather before you leave and plan accordingly.
If it’s going to rain, wear the right shoes. You can bring an umbrella, but please have the decency to not open it up when you’re in the middle of the audience. Maybe invest in a poncho instead, dude; it’s the standard for rainy festival gear. If it’s going to be sunny, wear sunscreen and a hat and yes, you can still use your umbrella but again, don’t be that dick that opens it up right in the middle of the audience.
Food and Drinks: You’re going to get hungry and thirsty and you can’t bring your own snacks, so don’t even try. But Austin takes its mobile eateries very seriously, and YES IT’S AUSTIN THERE WILL BE GLUTEN-FREE VEGAN OPTIONS so don’t worry. Don’t complain about the price of water or food as if you’ve just woken up and realized where you are. You’ve already spent a ton on passes so what’s another 12 bucks on some vegan chili fries?
Don’t hit the booze super hard if it’s super hot because you will get dehydrated and either vomit, feel terrible, or pass out. Bring your refillable water bottle (the one NOT filled with gin) for water, and make sure you’re drinking water in between your boozing, even if you don’t feel that thirsty. Or just drink beer, which is both alcoholic and hydrating (I don’t know if that’s an actual fact but I believe it to be true, so…).
Drugs: Don’t be that dude who drops acid as soon as he enters the park and never makes it past the gate because he’s convinced he’s trapped there (true story). That dude is not cool. He may still be trapped there! Who knows? Instead, pace yourself and get the lay of the land. We’re not all 19-year-olds at the Electric Daisy Carnival. ACL is pretty mellow, so first figure out where the important stuff is (like water, the toilets and your friends) before you start doing anything crazy. A good rule of thumb is never to try anything new for the first time at a music festival. You don’t know how you’re going to react and just for the safety of yourself and the thousands of other festival-goers, we’d prefer if you don’t freak out on us or end up sitting in the rain crying for six hours straight (also a true story). Stick with what you know and enjoy.
Hygiene: Yeah, festivals are gross. Bring wet wipes.
Transportation: Taxi, Uber, bike or public transport. If you choose to drive don’t complain about the other people also driving. There’s no parking at ACL so get ready for a shuttle anyways.
Clothing: Just, dress like a normal person, man. It’s not Coachella. Nobody cares.
Meetup: Have a way to connect with your friends. Use an app that can send your location to someone else. Have a meetup spot. Make a totem you can hold up briefly so someone can find you easily in a crowd from a long way away.
Read the website information: Are you wondering if your chair, cooler and dog are allowed at the festival? Guess what? The “Information” page will tell you. Read it before you show up, because you’re going to have to leave two of those things at the gate.
And in general, just be nice to people. Don’t get all dickish if the dude in front of you keeps jumping around and hitting you with his backpack. He’s having a good time and so should you. Don’t complain about the price of beer or the state of the toilets. It’s a festival. You get to see some cool bands and do some interesting stuff and then at the end of the night we all get to go home and sleep in our own beds (you know, if that’s what you’re into).
Austin City Limits Music Festival will be at Zilker Park October 2-4th and 9-11th, 2015. Check out the complete lineup and get your passes here.
Not sold on going to the festival? You and me both, buddy. Check out the Official ACL Festival Late Night Shows through C3 Concerts instead. You can catch various festival musicians playing at different venues around town between the two weekends. Smaller shows, proper venues, and you don’t need a ACL pass to see any of them. Shows are announced and tickets usually go on sale a couple of weeks before the festival.