Earlier this month I spontaneously decided to spend the weekend in Austin, Texas. Although I consider myself fairly well traveled within the United States, I had never been to Texas and Austin specifically was on my “30 before 30” list. So, with only 48 hour notice, I packed my bags, boarded a plane and headed south to The Lone Star State. Located in central Texas, Austin is the capital of Texas with nearly 700,000 people.
Music is the heartbeat of Austin and was the reason for my weekend getaway. Musicians can be found playing everywhere from grocery stores to city council meetings, outdoors and at festivals. Austin most notably boasts the Austin City Limits and South by Southwest music festivals. But the lesser known include Pachanga Latino Musical Festival, Urban Music Festival, Fun, Fun, Fun Fest, Chaos in Tejas and many more worth checking out. Austin musicians fill more than 250 live music venues like clubs, coffeehouses, bars, taquerias, auditoriums and concert halls. I, however, found myself outside at Zilker Metropolitan Park.
Zilker Metropolitan Park is considered “Austin’s most-loved park.” This 351-acre park hosts a variety of recreation opportunities and special events for individuals and families alike. It is also the venue for Austin City Limits, my destination.
Austin City Limits, also known as ACL, covers 46 acres of the park. It takes place over two 3-day weekends. This year, it ran October 3-5 and 10-12. Over 130 bands performed on 8 stages throughout the park. Music could be heard from roughly 11am-10pm both weekends. 3-day passes for one weekend ran you about $250.
So, early Friday morning, I headed to Austin for the second weekend of ACL 2014 and one I will never forget. My traveling partners in crime were none other than Photobucket’s CTO and another friend of ours. We joined over 75,000 other music lovers who were in attendance each day that weekend.
Day 1 started out with Capital Cities, followed soon after by Bleachers. Chvrches won the award for the day of most surprising performance. They killed it! Vincent and Foster the People were next. The day concluded rocking out to Beck, my favorite band of the weekend. However, if you ask my two traveling companions, they would say Foster the People won the day. We caught the last half hour of Outkast’s set as we headed out. By the end of the day, one thing was clear: I could not have been prepared for what was in store at my first ever music festival. And I needed to purchase anything with fringe, a crop top and a flower headband stat!
Can we talk for a minute about Austin’s food?! As someone who could do without red meat (and really anything besides chicken and fish), I was not expecting to like my meals as much as I did. I got to try rattlesnake and rabbit sausage. I learned that in Texas, the burrito is out and tacos are in! I couldn’t find a breakfast burrito (Denverites have a strange affinity for Santiago’s breakfast burritos), but I did find breakfast tacos! I tried their infamous pulled pork, BBQ sandwich. I found adorably decorated, festive ACL cookies at the local coffeeshop. But hands down, the best meal I had was the egg omelet (that filled the ENTIRE plate) and the thick cut bacon on the side. It was delish!
The trip would not have been complete without visiting an old coworker that moved to Austin. We started the second day eating brunch with his beautiful family.
Once we had carb loaded on pumpkin pancakes and had our protein fill of thick cut bacon and eggs, we headed back to the park for Day 2. Rebelution kicked off the concerts with a bang. Zoe and Interpol followed. By the time Icona Pop took the stage, my heart had been won. Lana del Ray kept up the momentum, but the day belonged to none other than Slim Shady himself. I’ve always been a fan of Eminem, but he came out swinging and didn’t let up for his entire 90 minute set, including coming back for an encore. By the end of the day, I was caked in mud (to the point that my toenail polish color was unrecognizable), had walked over 14 miles and had danced for hours on end to some of the best musicians alive.
For most of the weekend you could find me like this:
Or like this:
Day 3: I unfortunately had to miss due to family obligations. So while my two partners in crime were still sleeping off the previous night’s excitement, I found myself in a cab headed to the airport at 530am.
There are hundreds of images from this weekend that I could share, but here are my top 10 fave:
How long does it take to put on something of this magnitude? The northern portion of the park, known as the Great Lawn, is closed for over a month. Starting September 22nd, crews spent 11 days to set up. ACL ran for the next two weekends and the following week was spent just removing all of the staging. The Parks and Recreation Department then conducted their post-event maintenance and the entire park will finally reopen on October 26th.
How long does it take for a festival-goer to recover from a weekend like this? At least 4 days and counting…. 😉
I’d encourage each of you to follow the wise words found on this cement column as we entered the park:
If I’ve learned anything in my first 27 years on this planet, it’s that life is short. Make the most of your time here. You’ll regret the spontaneous weekend getaways that you didn’t take. Make your life a story worth reading! 🙂
Faithful readers, I’m looking for your help! I’d love to hear your suggestions for future posts that you would like me to do. Do you know of a food I just have to try? Is there a new workout trend that I should look into? Please let me know in the comments below. Your idea could be featured on the next post of Behind the Lens!