Austin City Limits: Day 1

Arriving in Austin Thursday evening, Tricia and I had no idea what to expect out of the weekend. As all of the downtown hotels were already full, we've been staying at the Holiday Inn near the airport. It isn't too far from a Texas Land & Cattle, which is a steakhouse I used to frequent in 2010 when I was working on the nValeo project in Austin. We stopped there the first night and had dinner and it was every bit as good as I remembered. Tricia liked it too, "sharing" the dessert brownie with me about as well as Napoleon shared the Ziggy Piggy on Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

Despite sounding like a terrible location, it's been a reasonable stay. We were afraid we'd be driving downtown and paying a ton of money for parking, or worse, pay a cab $30+ each way to drop us off. Instead, the lady at the front desk told us that the hotel would shuttle us back and forth to the airport, and there was another bus that'd take us from the airport to downtown for $1.50. It may take an additional half hour or so, but it hasn't been too inconvenient.

Walking from the bus stop to the concert was a nightmare on Friday. The temperature was in the mid-90's and we were both wearing flip-flops. A mile and a half walk to the park felt like an eternity -- particularly when you're unfamiliar with the area and have no concept of how much further you have to go. Around the halfway point of the walk, we decided to make a stop somewhere to grab something to eat to prevent waiting in long lines at the park.

We chose this small area with a few food trucks and found a red one called "Hey!...You Gonna Eat Or What?" (gratuitous link). Don't judge them on their site design, the food is top-notch and they deserve every single award (there are many) that they've won.

On to the show...

We didn't get to Zilker Park until around 3:30. The atmosphere is a bit overwhelming and awesome. There are eight stages lining the perimeter of the park and at any given time there are two or three shows blasting away. I'm a terrible estimator of people, because at one point I asked Tricia if she thought there were a million people there. According to the Wikipedia article, "approximately 75,000 people attend the festival each day." It definitely feels like ten times that amount.

The first show we saw was CHVRCHES. We also saw them in June at the LC during a huge storm, so this was quite the opposite weather. Their act was about the same as I remember from June. Only the headliners get more than an hour, but CHVRCHES is a newer band, and they just don't have enough material yet to go much beyond an hour. All in all, they put on a good show.

Let me remind you, it was HOT on Friday. You're standing in a huge field of dead grass with a million people all around you and the sun is scalding the top of your head. Needless to say, it didn't smell great. Fortunately so many people were smoking weed around us that it stifled the smell of armpit.

We walked around and looked at some art for a while and decided to sit down under a big tent that we assumed was there for shade. About a half hour later, people start piling in and a band named Ozomatli steps out on stage and starts playing.

In truth, Ozomatli put on a pretty good show. We didn't understand most of their lyrics (because they were in Spanish) but they played with a ton of energy and were a damn fun band to watch. We stuck around and watched most of their show before abandoning to see Belle & Sebastian.

This show probably would have been better but Outkast and Beck were setting up on their respective stages and we wanted to make sure to see at least one of them. We stopped watching Belle & Sebastian halfway through their set and made our way over to the Honda stage where Outkast was going to be playing.

In hindsight, we should have watched the rest of Belle & Sebastian. The headliner stages were so packed full of people and we were so far away that by the time Outkast came on, we could barely see them on the large screens straddling the stage. Even worse, we were in no-man's land between the stages and, as surprising as this sounds, the drum and bass from the Beck show often diluted what we were hearing from Outkast. To top it off, most of the people around us were talking and not paying attention. 

After an hour of straining to see and hear the show, we finally decided we'd had enough and began the long walk back to the bus stop. We made it back to our room around midnight and crashed pretty hard.

Many lessons learned...

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