Three days of glorious music, fantastic people and heat. Yes, heat… and did I mention heat? Throw in high humidity and a chance of thunderstorms and you have ACL weekend 1, 2018 edition. Some locals love this pilgrimage to their beloved city and some despise it. I totally get it as one visit to Austin could easily make you want to move here. Along with SXSW, ACL brings people from across the globe together to celebrate a wide variety of musical talents. Want some nostalgia? How about Paul McCartney and Metallica. Looking for a dash of established indie? Phoenix and The National should do. With six-plus stages, there was plenty of music to go around over the sold-out weekend one festival. Like a couple other major festivals ACL also runs two weekends in a row sometimes with a sprinkle of different bands for variety.
As first timers to ACL we were thoroughly impressed. The organization was top tier. There were no issues with getting in or out of the festival. The festival offers free shuttles to central pickup points downtown. The lines were not long compared to other major festivals, whether for entrance, washrooms or water fill stations. The food was reasonably priced (for a festival) and offered a good variety. The best thing about ACL other than the music, of course, the people of ACL. Everyone was respectful, friendly and having a good time which is really an overview of Austin itself.
Lastly and most importantly let’s talk music. With a solid lineup in place, it was no surprise that the performances witnessed did not disappoint. Above and beyond the obvious expected standouts, namely Paul McCartney, Metallica, Greta Van Fleet, etc, there were some wonderful surprises.
Top of the surprised column was Bishop Briggs. Bishop’s day 1 performance really set the bar high. A genuine artist who climbed the ranks to literally open for a Beatle. She was overcome with emotion in between songs. A genuine artist who leaves it all on stage, one has to respect that.
Moving onto Day 2 Chvurches set was visually beautiful with the lead singer Lauren Eve Mayberry dawning an angel like costume twisting and turning through the smokey stage. The beats were catchy and the fans responded. The band has really stepped up their stage show since I last seen them perform.
The day 3 surprise stand out was dressed like a Calgary Stampede airport greeter Elle King. Her set was up-tempo from the get-go. She was extremely fierce and feisty as she performed to an overflowing crowd at the Home Away stage.
In a saturated festival scene, ACl does a lot of things right. It starts with the location and finishes with a solid lineup.