ACL: A Recap

Austin City Limits 2012

Clearly it has taken me several days to fully recover from the three jam-packed days we spent in Austin this past weekend for the 2012 Austin City Limits festival. I guess the older you get the longer it takes to bounce back! And just like I think we said last year, this might be our last full three days of ACL for the foreseeable future (you can hold me to that right up until the 2013 lineup is released–then all bets are off!) It wears you out, but what you get while you’re there is really something amazing.  There are so many things I could say here to recap. I could run through every band we saw and every slightly painful moment, but instead I thought I’d just pull out some of the highlights of the weekend for me personally.

  • Running Late, As Usual: Even after getting out of town earlier than planned, somehow we were still running late for the First Aid Kit set at 1:15 on Friday…and I was NOT going to miss them! Even if that meant ditching poor Bear at the entrance gate when his wristband malfunctioned and he was rerouted back through the ticket line.  I should’ve been a good girlfriend and waited to make sure he got in okay, but instead I sort of gave him a nod and said, “let me know when you get in!” and took off across the field to catch what was left of their set. Don’t worry, he made it in the second time around!
  • Florence and the Machine: I was already looking forward to seeing this set, but I don’t think I could’ve anticipated just how good Florence Welch would be. Dressed in a long-sleeve gown (in the sweltering heat) she ran and jumped and skipped across the stage, and through the audience, all while wailing on those notes. She gave me chills. Her energy and dedication to the show were unreal. You could feel that she was giving every last ounce of everything she had to that audience. The crowd went nuts when she sang “Shake It Off” and I loved hearing “Cosmic Love”.

Remember, heat and sun safety kids! Ha. Ridiculous, right?


  • The Eye of the Tiger: Let me be the first to admit I was a total hater when Bear walked out of the bathroom in his, how would you say, um, unique, shirt for Day Two. I couldn’t believe he was actually going to wear it in public to be honest. But I’ll be darned if he wasn’t the hit of ACL that day.  I can’t even tell you how many people stopped him to take pictures with him, or to tell him how awesome his shirt was…one kid even walked by and “knighted” him for having the best shirt out there. So kudos to Bear for out hipstering the hipsters.

Bear in his tiger shirt

  • Rufus Wainwright singing Judy Garland: Judy Garland is one of my all-time favorites. I can’t even tell you how much I love her. When I was younger I was on a mission to watch all of her movies, even the hard to find ones. And Saturday I saw a man sing the most beautiful rendition of her version of “The Man that Got Away”. My hats off to Wainwright as this could’ve been a mess in anyone else’s hands, but for the second time at ACL this year, I had goosebumps. (see him sing it here)
  • The Whistling: I have an album or two of Andrew Bird’s and it’s great background music, but I didn’t really know what to expect from his live show.  Well, apparently he likes to whistle–A LOT. I seriously think he whistled in every song. And that’s all I have to say about that.
  • Galway Girl, Mixed with Dubstep: One of the more unfortunate things of the weekend was that everyone who played at the Austin Ventures Stage seemed to be pitted up against some major dubstep or hip hop on the Honda Stage, and the Ventures Stage nearly always lost out. I thought we were going to miss out on Steve Earle all together as he was clearly unhappy with the sound bleed from BASSNECTAR’s set (it was serious y’all), and the rain. But my night was made when he came out and gave me what I’d been hoping for: Galway Girl. I was in heaven.  And then a little added bonus of Copperhead Road to round out the set. Love!
  • 18 Minute Rock Songs:Neil Young and Crazy Horse were in classic rocker form Saturday night, bringing the rock, and those really long “interludes” every chance they got. It was awesome. And it was more awesome seeing how much fun my dad was having finally getting to see one of his favorite artists after all of these years. Have I mentioned how cool my parents are?

    They look like they’ve had a good day to me!

  •  Gary Clark Jr.: I don’t know what else to say other than the man can rock. HE is SO. GOOD. His set was early on Sunday but there was a massive crowd at the AMD Stage…with the warm muggy air, and everyone looking a little ragged trying to rally for day three, but still clearly enjoying the show he was putting on, I couldn’t help but imagine for a brief moment that this was one of those “Woodstock Moments” that will just stick with you. If he is every in your area, do not miss him. Seriously.
  • All Together Now: I’ve never been the biggest Red Hot Chili Peppers fan. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy some of their stuff, but they have some die-hard fans out there…and I can see why now. They put on one heck of a show to close out the weekend. It was shocking how many of their songs I knew all the words to, and it was just so much fun singing and dancing with everyone around you. Those are the moments that make the music festivals what they are. We are all in it together. And we’re all going to enjoy it. I sure did.
  • The Great Flood: No, I’m not talking about the substantial rain that came down Saturday and left Zilker Park a muddy, smelly mess. I’m talking about the sea of humanity flowing into the street as the festival dimmed its lights on 2012.  It really was incredible to see that many people wading out, all together, heading home. I was happy to be one of them.

The Remains of a Successful Weekend

And there you have it…those were some of my favorite moments from the weekend. The ones that are harder to describe are the ones that maybe I treasure most, like sitting on the hill and just watching everyone go by, or walking back downtown hand in hand with Bear, feeling the relief that we actually survived, crowding under umbrellas as the deluge came on (and some random girl ducking in with my dad, to his surprise), laughing at how ridiculous boys can be, hanging out with my sister…I could go on and on. But I’ll stop there and just say, it was a great weekend. Another one well done, Austin City Limits. Well done.


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