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The Chronicles of Austin City Limits

Allison N. Evans / Red Dirt Report
The only recovered photo from Austin City Limits - tamales and beer.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – When given an amazing opportunity, you must take it. When I was offered to represent Red Dirt Report at Austin City Limits (ACL), the mother of all music festivals, there was zero hesitation even though I was scheduled to move the same weekend. What was supposed to be a smooth festival experience, turned into quite the adventure. These are my chronicles of my ACL adventure.

Thursday, Oct. 6

Typical me, I forgot to ask off work at my full time job. I get to work at the crack of dawn, but amazingly, I get the opportunity (thanks to great coworkers) to leave early. With it also being the weekend of the OU vs. Texas game, I knew I had to leave for Austin as soon as possible to avoid the great migration of Oklahoma football fans and the traffic that comes accompanies it.

Its 1:30 p.m. and I rush home to pack for the move, not yet packed for ACL. I blindly throw anything in arms reach into a box, and then realize, I haven’t signed my new lease. I jump into my car to grab a money order for the deposit then frantically run down to the leasing office to sign the lease.

Two hours later, I throw a handful of random items into a duffle bag and I am out the door and southbound on Interstate 35. The highway is an obstacle course of construction mazes, barriers, and orange cones and I soon realize I’m in for a difficult beginning. Somewhere around Pauls Valley, I locate my highway companion. A highway companion is what I call the car that drives the same speed and passes cars at the same agility level as you on a long journey of highway. They become your friend. Your companion. If you pass too many cars and no longer have sight of their car, you smile when their bumper re-appears from behind the dusty red minivan that obviously doesn’t understand the concept of staying between the white lines outlining the pavement. You know what I’m talking about.

A quarter past 9 p.m., I stumble out of the car into a friend’s apartment in the West Campus area of Austin, duffle bag in hand, stinking from being in the car too long, and feeling exhausted. I crash on the couch; so tired that I could not even enjoy dreams of the future musical bliss I would experience the next couple of days. Sleep.

Friday, Oct. 7

The sun shines into the apartment and I spring up from bed ready to take on my day. First order of business, coffee. I venture out into the streets of Austin and find coffee. I also spot an Urban Outfitters, my favorite clothing store that we do not currently have in the Oklahoma City metro or nearby area. My adult ADD takes me into the store. I get lost shopping for mod frocks and bargains in the upstairs of Urban Outfitters.

I make it back to the apartment to help assess my fellow festival goers ensembles and realized I hardly packed anything that matched. So I was off to another shopping trip! An hour later we regrouped, me finally with appropriate attire, and headed to a good ol’ college style pre-party. Twenty people packed into a small apartment around the table of shots, bottles, and beers; that’s what I call a college style pre-party. Two hours and two shots later, we set out to walk the 20 minute hike to finally make it to the gates of ACL.

A true, almost 20 minutes later I hear music. I smell food. I am ecstatic. I turn the corner and there it is, the gates of ACL and the thousands of people in the field beyond it. I get my bag checked, scan my wristband and I’m off! I run through the gates and B-line it to the nearest stage and begin to dance. My next order of business is to find that amazing smell of food. I am delighted to find tamales, for I have been craving them for months.

I grab a couple of $9 beers (why not, I AM at a music festival) and I head out to explore. I have been to so many concerts and festivals of different scales over the years, but the production quality of ACL blew my mind. The stages (sponsored by companies like Honda and Samsung) were huge and near extraordinary. Massive walls of speakers and stages lined the ordinarily flat field.

With a huge retail store where you are able to pay with your wristbands, I grab all the ACL goodies I can afford with two hands and make my way proudly to the register and out the door to see my first ACL musical set.

Flying Lotus is not a name I was familiar with but I happened to stumble upon his performance and was not disappointed. If you are like me and have never heard of him, I urge you to check out his music. Next up on my list, Radiohead.

By now I am several beers deep and two people back from the barrier between the stage and the crowd with an amazing view for some pretty amazing pictures. Where are these amazing pictures you might ask? More on that later. Up front and center I am surrounded by some really awesome die-hard Radiohead fans. We all get to talking and I discover the 40-something, Latina woman who came from Houston just to see Radiohead and the older gentleman to my other side came down from Chicago to celebrate his friend’s son’s 18th birthday. We had a blast talking when possible then dancing the night away.

I went full in to the Austin live music scene. I was taken down to 6th Street to a line of bars with music after music. A dream of an atmosphere for a music fan like me. Austin lived up to its high expectation.

Saturday, Oct. 8

Once again, we head to our pre-party spot and the group of around 20 people walk through the Greenbelt to Zilker Park where ACL has taken over the land. The Greenbelt is a peaceful and beautiful hiking trail that connects the Barton Springs area to Zilker Park.

I once again B-line it to my preselected stage. Yes I know, I “B-line it” quite a bit, but I often walk with intent! As an 80’s baby, I have a great appreciation for LL Cool J, and I just could not stand to miss his performance. Still a being heartthrob, LL put on my favorite performance of the weekend. He handed out roses, he brought a young girl on stage and gave her a necklace and told her she can be anything she wants to be and so on. This is where the tears were released from the females in the audience. Then he kicked it up with some raw, old school raps.

A coin toss between Cage the Elephant and School Boy Q, I stuck with my rap themed night of ACL and went with School Boy Q. At the performance I met even more amazing people from Austin and one from Baltimore, Maryland. He played my favorite song and we all song along. My neighbors in the crowd were excited for me for I had been singing it the whole hour we stood waiting. What great sports!

I migrated to another stage where I meet a small group of people from all over the world, one from Canada, one from England, and the other from Canada, we quickly bond. This is actually my second group of amazing people I met from Canada. The night before I hung out with a group of five Canadians partying and dancing under the nation’s flag. As we danced and shared a couple of cigarettes, the Chainsmokers killed it on stage. Few bands actually sound like what you hear on the radio and the Chainsmokers were spot on.

Last show of the night was a Mr. Kendrick Lamar. Have you heard of him? Yes, yes you have. He brought so much energy and amazement to the massive crowd. I got such amazing pictures, too! Then it happened. My phone went MIA. I have the memory of a fish but an impeccable sense of direction, so I luckily made it back to the pre-party location to regroup with friends and head out to the live music scene of Austin.

Sunday, Oct. 9

I awake, terrified and phoneless. But what are you gunna do? So I put my big girl pants on and sucked it up. I came to realize that my debit card and only source of finances was left along with my tab at an Austin live music bar. Typical me. Luckily, I still had my wristband on which I had previously connected to my debit card so as long as I was at ACL, I would have access to food, and beer. At this time, I chose not to worry. I did not have time to worry, I had shows to get to!

I’m surrounded by camping chairs and food. Every other person walking passed sports a shirt with those famous braids. It is time for Willie Nelson. A familiar faces steps on stage as the crowd goes wild, Matthew McConaughey appears to introduce his friend Willie Nelson. The crowd seems like shift and get emotional as Willie appears on stage.

To wrap up the festival, Mumford and Sons on one stage and LCD sound system on the other. I watch for a while then head to the lost and found tent to recover my phone. I am unsuccessful. Estranged from my friends, no way to contact them, and no money for a taxi, I do what everyone should do in such a vulnerable stage, I find the old deadheads in Grateful Dead shirts to hitch a ride back to the apartment. In my journeys, I have found old deadheads to be the most trustworthy and kind people. I made it back safely.

Monday, Oct. 10 – Columbus Day

With less than eight hours before I have to be at work, I discover the banks are closed, I will not be getting a replacement debit card. This is unfortunate because it take two tanks of gas to get back to Oklahoma City. Without a phone with GPS, I am stuck in a situation where I no longer know where Oklahoma City is. With generosity of a family member and amazing people at Western Union, I get gas in the car and blindly head out. Later that day I make it home, to a new apartment, then straight into work. It was quite an adventure.

I now have a ridiculous temporary debit card, a smashed up ancient iPhone 4, and no pictures of any of the artists or performances, but I made some amazing, irreplaceable memories and friends. I had the time of my life, and that my friends is worth much more then phones and cards, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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About the Author

Allison N. Evans

Born in the red dirt and swept away with the wind, this tumbleweed has traveled the world, lived...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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