I went to Austin City Limits (ACL) – weekend two – over the weekend, and I still cannot stop thinking about how much fun I had!
Last year, my best friend Sheena came to Austin and we ventured to one day of the festival, both seeing it for the first time. We were there from open to close, and although it was fun, I wasn’t sure if I’d go back.
I’ve been to the Van’s Warped Tour a few times and also to Hangout Fest multiple times and both of those were much more organized and fun, I thought. But when I saw this year’s lineup for ACL – I knew I had to go, and I needed to be there all three days. I used the ACL Fest app to create a schedule and that helped me see all the bands on my list.
On Friday, I headed to the festival around 3:30, but after a debacle with my Uber driver, I didn’t get into the festival until 5:15 – Khalid was scheduled to start at 5:30, so I was BOOKING it to the Honda stage to see the start of the show.
I made it with time to spare, and he put on a great show. I saw Khalid earlier this year at Red Rocks, but I felt pretty distracted by the venue itself (and the crowd) that seeing him at ACL was a good idea. He played several of the songs from “American Teen”, and also sang “OTW”, “Love Lies”, and “Eastside”… and he also announced that his new EP would drop this Friday, October 19!
Next up was Hozier, who I’ve never seen live, but have listened to plenty. I grabbed some dinner (the other great thing about ACL) and a seat far away so I could eat and listen. If you’re wondering, I got a lobster tostada and chips with green chile queso from Torchy’s – it was delicious!
Hozier also sounded fantastic live, and the place went nuts when they sang “Take Me to Church”. It was impressive.
Next, I knew I had to go to the Silent Disco – Sheena and I went last year and it was my favorite part. If you’ve never been to a Silent Disco before, you get a set of headphones upon entering. There are multiple DJs set up – in this case, three – and they are each playing on a different channel that you can tune into via the headphones.
I danced my legs off for about an hour before I treated myself to an organic strawberry lemonade, watched Paul McCartney perform a few songs, and made my way out of the festival.
After getting there so late on Friday, I made an effort to leave a little earlier on Saturday. I got to the festival around 3:20, but it took a little more than an hour to get through the bag check line and scan my wristband.
I still had plenty of time to grab some food – a grilled cheese with fig jam from Burro – before seeing Marion Hill perform, which was a lot of fun.
Then, I headed to see Lil Wayne (the replacement for Childish Gambino) about an hour early – I wanted to get a good spot, which actually ended up being a giant mistake. I was in the middle, crammed in with so many sweaty people… but it was fun to see Lil Wayne (I saw him in New Orleans when he was touring songs from “The Carter III”).
He sang new songs, and took it all the way back to “Go DJ” – one of my favorites.
The headliner that night was Metallica, so I watched a few songs of their set – they sounded great – and there were tons of people there with Metallica shirts on. On my way out, I bought a Khalid shirt.
Sunday was the biggest day on my schedule, and I’m not going to lie, I had the most fun. My allergies and a little bit of a cold were hold me down some on Friday and Saturday, but I woke up Sunday feeling much better and I was ready to roll!
I got to the festival around 2:30, in time to see Elle King and grab food (are you noticing a trend here?) – I got a vegan sandwich from Flyrite with tater tots and it was delish. Elle King was also refreshing and I made a mental note to buy some of her music.
Next up was Janelle Monae – I had her on my list as a “hope to see” her, but I ended up LOVING her performance and watched every minute of it! She sang all of her hit songs, complete with choreography and fun costumes. I was impressed. She ended her performance reminding everyone to vote, and said, “We’re about to change the mother fucking world!” Yes!!!!
And then it was the biggie: Shawn Mendes. He was the whole reason I bought a ticket for weekend two – and wow was that a great decision. I found a spot in the middle of the crowd, and he sounded fantastic! He sang some radio favorites, including “Stitches”, “Lost in Japan”, and “Treat You Better”, along with two cover songs. He even ran into the crowd (heavily surrounded by security, of course) and said he’s always wanted to play ACL. I loved it, and bought some of the songs I didn’t have once I got home.
Closing the night was Travis Scott, and he brought Shaq on stage – the crowd was excited and confused all at once. Many of his songs had gunshot sound effects, which was alarming, and I immediately left after hearing what I wanted to. I was surprised more people didn’t leave – I didn’t think artists were doing that anymore, and even though I am against editing expression, I didn’t feel comfortable hearing those sounds in a festival atmosphere. I don’t think I would have been able to tell if it was real or not.
All in all though, it was a fantastic weekend – so much fun and so much great food and music. It really reminded me why so many people flock from all over to attend their favorite festivals. We need events like these to feel free – free to have fun and express ourselves. It’s also a reminder of how great places can be – I felt really lucky to live Austin, a city that embraces creativity and progressive causes. I really needed those reminders, and I’ve been listening to music ever since I left Zilker Park. It truly was good for my soul.
As of September 1, I’ve been living in Austin for two years. I came to this city with the intention of furthering my career, and really taking it as an opportunity to start fresh, leave the past behind me, and just LIVE my life.
So, I made a bucket list specifically for Austin, and I’m proud to say I’ve tackled at least half of it (if not more). Many of the items on my list got checked off this past weekend, when my best friend came to visit! We had so much fun, I wanted to share some of the things we did.
See the bats on Congress Bridge
Each fall, the biggest bat colony IN THE WORLD assembles itself under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin. These are Mexican free-tailed bats, and they stick around until it gets chilly and then fly off to Mexico. Everyday, they sleep in the crevices of the bridge, and fly out at dusk to find dinner. And crowds come out in hoards to see them.
So, my friend and I took a “bat cruise”, where we got way too close (pretty sure we got pissed on) to said bats, but were in complete awe when the 1.5 million of the little guys came flying out from underneath the bridge. The sound of them squeaking will possibly ALWAYS be a memory.
Hike Mount Bonnell
Okay, so this wasn’t on my bucket list, but it’s one of the most well-known hikes in the city, particularly because of its stellar views all the way around. It’s a fairly easy hike and you can see the downtown skyline, the tower and stadium at the University of Texas, and there’s a great shot of the Colorado River. Absolutely gorgeous!
Paddle board on Lady Bird Lake
This wasn’t on my list either, although I did list “Have an adventure on Lake Travis”, which I did in August when I went on a pontoon boat across the lake! However, I have never been paddle boarding! I’ve been kayaking once, on the Colorado River, so my friend and I decided to grab some paddle boards, and we were able to paddle behind one of the stages at ACL and hear some live music before paddling back to the dock. It was fantastic!
Tour Jester King Brewery
The Jester King Brewery is basically out in the middle of nowhere, but I’m ALL about these sorts of adventures, especially in Texas. So, my friend and I drove southwest, and ended up on the working ranch where the brewery lives, right next to Stanley’s Pizza, which is a glorified barn, complete with a fire oven. This place made all of my Texas dreams come true: beer and wine served in mason jars, a pasture, live chickens, fresh beer, and chandeliers hanging from beams in the barn. And that pizza was delicious!
Hit up Rainey Street
I’ve already been to 6th street several times, but Rainey Street is supposedly more of the local’s place to get rowdy. We checked out Icenhauer’s, where we both got some fancy cocktails (her’s had grilled pineapple in it), and then we went to the Parlor Room, which seemed a little more college-esque. But still, a very good time.
Go to ACL
Also not on my bucket list, but a recent wish of mine has been to go to ACL, because why not? I live 15 minutes away! So, we got 1-day passes and completely lived our best festival lives and saw Tank and the Bangas, Run the Jewels, Vance Joy, The Killers, and about three minutes of Gorillaz. We both fell in love with the Silent Disco, drank our fair share of beer, and enjoyed a local favorite: Torchy’s Tacos. The frozen sangria was also tasty.
See Graffiti Park
This was a perfect stop on the way to the airport – closing off a three-day weekend of Texas fun. The Graffiti Park at Castle Hills has art on art on art. People are tagging it every day, and there were already messages of hope sprayed on the walls for Vegas and Houston. Plus there were plenty of owls, skulls, and pop culture references. A must see!
When I visited Indiana in June, many of the things I was told we could do, we didn’t end up doing, and that bothered me. I meet lots of people who are happy living where they were born and raised, and that’s great – but these are often the people that let life pass them by. I’m a firm believer in being a tourist where you live; making the most of each situation; and just going for it!
Other things I’ve crossed off my list include: get a pedicure at Caesar’s salon, eat at the Hula Hut, and one upcoming thing will be eating sushi at Uchiko!