Something that I had managed to completely miss the boat on was the Austin City Limits festival, which is happening the entire time I’m in Austin. I should have figured that out when I was booking a room, and everything was either taken or incredibly expensive. Learning about the festival, I had the nagging feeling that I had to get tickets somehow. Supposedly, Austin is the “Live music capitol of the world,” and I guess I expected there to be bands playing at every bar and street corner when I got there, so there wouldn’t really be much need to go to a huge overpriced festival as well.
I needed food before I started my search for festival tickets, so I stopped at a place my cousin recommended called Chilito’s. There are many Tex-Mex places in Austin and they’re all pretty decent. I’d never really had Tex-Mex, just the Americanized Mexican food I grew up with in southern California(Go buy a California Burrito). I guess Tex-mex is an even more Americanized version. I heard that Austin invented the Breakfast Taco, so that is what I got. It was really good, but I still think the best Americanized Mexican food is in California.
The sun was beating down hard. I was ready to pass out, but I was determined to stay outside all day and all night. I went into a coffee shop, ordered an iced coffee, and almost passed out on their couch. After an hour or two I had enough energy to ride out to Austin City Limits Festival, which was across the river. There are paths all along the river and beautiful bridges crossing over it. Hanging out next to the river was probably one of my favorite Austin activities. It felt like something out of a Mark Twain novel. I wish I had a homemade raft to float downstream on.
As expected, the festival was chaotic, but had a lot of great energy. I wasn’t sure if I should buy a ticket from a scalper or just try to sneak in. I talked it over with a few scalpers, but they were overcharging and I already missed the first day of the Festival. I tried using the, “Hey man this is all I got” approach, but had no luck.
Drunken festival girl twirling around in a circle
It was gated all around, and I had no luck trying to sneak in. A couple guys saw me trying and yelled at me, so I said, “Oh, hey this isn’t the way to the port-a-potties? My bad.”
I hung out outside the fence behind the big stage and listened to Vampire Weekend’s whole set. I decided against buying tickets, but I was kind of bummed about it. In my younger days I would have paid a ghastly amount of money or done whatever it took to get in. Now that I’m an old fart of 33, I think I’ve gotten too cautious. I hung my head and rode out, feeling like I missed an opportunity to reconnect with my youth.
Music festivals are fun, but they can be less about the music and more about the scene. Personally, I love going into a cramped room packed with sweaty folks and having the band blast the music directly into my brain. I found three venues about three blocks from each other that night, paid the entrance fee to all of them (Hotel Vegas, The Scoot Inn, and the Yellow Jacket Social Club), and then bounced around between sets. The Scoot Inn was doing a “Dress like your favorite Wes Anderson character” night with live bands, and Hotel Vegas had a series of indie/country western/rockabilly acts. I hung out with a few Margot and Richie Tenenbaums, then later got sandwiched between a big group of Steve Zizzou lookalikes. I hung out till the wee hours, and by the end of the night my regrets about the festival were gone.