ACL AggreGAYtion, Part I
"We were at the back of the theater, standing there in the dark. All of a sudden I feel one of 'em tug my sleeve, whispers, 'Trudy, look.' I said, 'Yeah, goosebumps. You definitely got goosebumps. You really like the play that much?' They said it wasn't the play gave 'em goosebumps, it was the audience." – Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner, The Search for Signs of Inteligent Life in the Universe
Austin City Limits Festival has its share of evangelists and detractors alike, and rightly so. A mega-massive multi-day post-Lalapalalapaza flustercluck of epic proportions, it deserves strong opinions of every variety, especially as it has been beset year after year by strange and unpleasant weather and, ummm, soil conditions. But even this humble blogger must admit that the very feat of assembling thousands of willing victims in a lovely park setting and inflicting new music upon them is a worthwhile cause, especially when this very event helps preserve not only the "Great Lawn" upon which these victims are strewn, but also our fair city's extensive green spaces, via the Austin Parks Foundation.
The fickle mercies of late summer in Austin aside (and yes, it is technically autumn, but the technocrats aren't fooling anyone), day festivals are bound to be endurance tests for the artists and audiences alike. Thankfully milder weather arrived just in time for this year's jam, but that isn't finally the point. A day-long festival is a lot of work, even when that day-long festival simply consists of an "A" stage and a "B" stage. A three-day festival with eight stages, now extended across two three-day segments is, to say the least, daunting. Add 75,000 attendees per day and it's no wonder so many of us retreat to our quick, intimate two- or three-act concerts in local venues.
But is there some extra value in being utterly lost in such a bewildering experience of strangerhood? What if one's family is essentially reunited in this chaos? What of the simple fact that so many people can come together and share a moment of what some of us burnouts would have called peace, love, unity, and respect? How about the fact that no weekend concert is likely to include a performance by Depeche Mode, The Cure, or Lionel Richie? We try to explore these seedling concepts, and perhaps analyze the state of the "Great Lawn" in ACL AggreGAYtion, Part II.