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Austin City Limits 2011

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Hello readers!

Apologies for not giving an immediate post on the wonderful happenings of ACL 2011. After leaving the festival on Sunday night with a golden glow infused by the melt-my-face-off goodness, I headed straight into “teacher mode” and felt almost as if I had passed and rebooted into the life of another very professional person–not the person I had felt like mentally or physically. ACL is everything you’ve heard and more. The three-day festival features the biggest names in the music world as well as those that you will know in a few months or years. First off, how did we happen upon ACL tickets? One word: Camelback.

On Friday evening, Erik and I ventured out to South Congress (SoCo) for some Cajun grub at The Original New Orleans PoBoy and Gumbo Shop. Delicious oyster po-boy, by the way! As we walked in exploration of SoCo evening activities, we dove into Doc’s, a normal sports bar, to watch some college pigskin thrown. After about an hour or so, ACLers began to flood in. We shared a long table with bar stools with a group and started making small talk. We found out that Coldplay was awesome as well as all of the other Friday performers. We also learned that one of the guys worked directly for Camelback, ACL’s main sponsor this year. We were chatting with his brother who was pretty enthusiastic to talk with us, especially once he heard that we were newbie Austinites. So, as the conversation droned on, the brother slipped us two three-day passes to ACL ever so discreetly. WHAT!? At first, we thought they were just showing off their ticket stubs. Then, we saw that the ticket stubs were, in fact, in tact. Next, our thoughts wandered more, and we thought they were pretty ridiculous fakes. Five minutes must have transpired before we realized that we just found our golden ticket inside the Wonka’s chocolate bar that was Doc’s. Instantly, celebrations ensued. Why us? What did we say? Do? Who cares! Erik and I would be joining the 75,000+ festival goers the very next morning and couldn’t be more thrilled to don our wide-brimmed hats, 50+ sunscreen, and hot, hot summer clothes!  🙂  So much luck, here.

OK, fast forward to Saturday morning. We woke up early got geared and took the Capital Metro bus to the Barton Springs intersection. We picked up some lunch at Sandy’s hamburgers and followed the masses to our mecca: Zilker Park. Going to a music festival is a strange, religious-like experience. Everyone is all-smiles, ready to listen to great music with great people and maybe enjoy some cold beverages whilst basking in the sun and the glory of intricately-designed tunes. The first performer we saw was Aloe Blacc & the Grand Scheme, a thirty-something black man that kept on keeping on! His catchy “I Need a Dollar” had my booty-shakin’ and feet-tappin’! What a voice and show to start el sabado! Next, we saw J. Roddy Walston & the Business. We had heard tons of great things from some friends from Raleigh about this classic rock band, and, after hearing them, we became instant fans. J. Roddy has such stage presence and breathes new life into old rock. He sang a Little Richard song like none other, and I’m sure that Lil’ Richie would have been proud. Good stuff, here. At this point, we realized that we should eat a snack as for the next few hours we would not have time to eat in between the shows that we could not miss, so we hit the food court, which was conveniently loaded with local fave food trailers! At 4:00pm, we headed back to the Bud Light stage for… Alison Krauss & Union Station! So beautiful! It was raining during her spot, but she didn’t seem to mind. We didn’t either. After all, Austinites hadn’t seen rain for nearly four months. 🙂 Her voice was pristine; I found myself tearing up throughout her solos. Bonus: Union Station played “Man of Constant Sorrow,” too! At this point, I’m feeling very lucky and happy with all things happening before my very own eyes. After Ms. Krauss, we headed to the Google+ stage to join thousands of high schoolers, twenty-somethings, and oldies alike to immerse ourselves into the techno-perfect beats of Skrillex. The show was amazing, and the best part was definitely the small child that was picked up by Skrillex himself to throw a couple of dance moves and run the DJ box for a number or two. Awesome! After Skrillex, we headed back to Bud Light for Cee Lo. I think “I’m crazy” for Cee Loafter that one. He was so typical (of himself), which made his show pretty satisfying despite the beating, bright sun overhead. Following Cee Lo, we headed to catch the first half of TV on the Radio and then the second half of Chromeo. Both bands are incredible; I only wish that we could have heard more music from both! Then, to top off this insane experience, we saw Saturday night’s headliner: Stevie Wonder!!! I still to this day cannot believe I was so close to Mr. Wonder himself and heard him sing LIVE! Amazing. Simply, amazing.

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As we left Zilker, I was in some sort of a daze. I couldn’t comprehend how what happened just happened. And, there was still Sunday!

On Sunday, we headed into the festival with our upstairs neighbors. The first show we caught was The Head & the Heart, a bluegrassy/folky group with a great sound that invited all music-lovers into what seemed like an invitation-only party, but totally wasn’t–thank goodness! I am getting their latest album this week… Because Erik and I were so pooped from Saturday, we went under the “Football Showing” tent and relaxed. I actually took a nap underneath the crammed tent next to strangers who were at both my sides. Ha! Whatever. I felt refreshed afterwards! We then listened to the opening for AWOLNATION. Unfortunately, I was not very impressed; however, I must say that they have a huge following. The stage grounds were packed! We needed agua, so we went to the Camelback filling station to reload. While we were in line, we heard Chiddy Bang, the rapper, and were really happy about it. He was great! Of course, we couldn’t miss the next Colombian mega-band, Bomba Estereo! I am in love with this band. We heard them live last year in Raleigh at Raleigh Wide Open on the Cherry Bomb stage. Their music is high-energy and just doesn’t quit. They work so hard to make their show an experience like none other, and, frankly, they succeed ten-fold. If you haven’t heard them yet, do it! You won’t have any regrets. I listen to them during work-outs and grading; it really gets you pumped and motivated to accomplish things! The next show we caught was Manu Chao la Ventura whom reminded me of a Mexican Jack Johnson/Dave Matthews/Rock Star, and I say this with utmost respect. The man is incredibly talented! Another good, new listen for me. Next, we saw EMPIRE OF THE SUN, another fave band! The show was everything I hoped it would be. EOTS stays true to his music and the theatrics of his music videos. I still cannot believe that happened. I’m so glad it did. Finally, the night ended with Arcade Fire. We were completely exhausted after sweating our clothes out to Bomba and Empire that we just stayed back and laid out on our beach towels. The sound wasn’t great, but Arcade Fire is anyway so it didn’t matter.

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And, that was it. That was Austin City Limits. All that goodness crammed into a two-day one-of-a-kind experience. It was like tasting Milk & Honey and then having it taken away…until next year that is.

I don’t know why or how these awesome things are happening to Erik & I, but I am feeling truly blessed. Until next year, ACL! 🙂

Next blog: Red’s Porch, Pecan Street Festival, Free Museum Day, and Slow-Cooked Pork Shoulder, Carolina-style!

Question: What was the best music experience you’ve ever had?