Are there HEALTH-heads out there? You know, like the Dead-heads of elder generations who followed their beloved band around the country from gig to gig, noting every minute change in the set list or experience? I haven’t reached this kind of HEALTH-head status just yet, but I have seen the industrial electro noise rock outfit four times (and counting) over the past twelve months. So I might be just at stalker status. Maybe they have begun to recognize my shaggy face, my slightly yellow teeth, my dangerous tendency to toss my elbows around with abandon, amidst the darkened club crowds…
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It is not until the end of the second weekend of Austin City Limits 2016 that I realize just how otherworldly the experience of the festival is. Even for a local Austinite like myself, the trip to the Zilker Park festival grounds takes over an hour, and once in the tree-lined confines of the park I feel that I am in another world. Moving in between concerts, local food vendors, and scores of people intoxicated on music and substances, I don’t realize just how much I’m removed from my daily routine. When I wake up on Monday morning and remember that I no longer need to make the journey out to Zilker Park via city bus, suddenly my internal clock goes right back to normal. Life moves at a slower pace than the hour-by-hour schedule of a music festival.
Still, in the post-festival daze that a friend of mine who attended the festival describes as “festival withdrawal”, I don’t feel removed from my experience of the ACL itself. ACL flew by quickly, but it didn’t fail to leave lasting memories. Here are some of mine from the second and final weekend of this year’s festival.
The 5th annual Global Citizen Festival continued the success of past iterations by generating support for a variety of international social causes. Through actions and commitments driven by the public, either with intent to attend the free show or through a prompt from a performer (notably Rihanna asked her fans to call Canadian PM Justin Trudeau to boost funding for foreign health programs), Global Citizens are making measurable impact.
As the GCF press release notes, “these commitments and announcements are worth $1.9 billion, and are set to reach 199 million people, and put the world on track to achieving the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Global Citizens will continue to use these commitments to hold governments and businesses accountable to deliver on their promises in the years to come.” Some specifics follow select performance highlights and a few photos.
By the time the final day of the final weekend of Austin City Limits 2016 rolls around, I realize just how well-oiled the machine of the festival is. Just about every set is on time. The lines for food and merchandise, while predictably long at peak hours, are never so slow that waiting in them is prohibitive to experiencing the music. Because Austin traffic moves centimeter by centimeter, the shuttles to the festival are slowed down, but they are free and efficient.
Those who don’t like doing many of the things that attending a music festival requires – standing to get a good view, being out in the hot sun for several consecutive hours – won’t be sold on ACL or any festival like it. Provided one is adaptable to those elements, however, she’ll find ACL to be a high quality music experience. I know that well after this weekend, the scorching sun and occasionally claustrophobic crowds won’t be the things I remember. Cannons of fire shooting in sync to the beats of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, Prinze George’s underrated afternoon set, and an incredible view of the Austin skyline as Radiohead takes to the stage: I don’t have to think hard to see the things I’ll take with me after this weekend.
Early into Saturday of Austin City Limits’ 2016’s second weekend, the crowds are noticeably less dense. Whether this is because much of the audience is recovering from a post-Radiohead bender following Friday’s stellar headlining performance or because people are looking for ways to avoid the heat beaming down square on Zilker Park is unclear. But those who made the time to come to ACL early on Saturday are rewarded with a wealth of fine performances. Sure, there’s a lot of humid heat to bear, but this is Austin: sweat is part of the price of admission.