No one does a music festival quite like the city of Austin. With over 100 bands jam packed at Zilker Park for three days, any music connoisseur is sure to have an amazing time.
Organized in 2002 to (display) Austin’s eclectic music scene, organizers didn’t seem to grasp what they had on their hands. Expecting 20,000 fans, hoping for 30,000, the festival opened Saturday morning to over 42,000 people. One-day passes were only $25. Line were long, people crowded the city of Austin. Residents complained the traffic was worse than South by Southwest, considered Austin’s biggest festival.
But that was only the beginning. 2003 brought three days instead of two, and 150,000 people along with it. The festival brought in big names such as R.E.M. and Al Green.
In 2004 the Pixies, reunited just in time for the festival, and brought with them 200,000 attendees and attendance camps to the festival grounds for the next several years to control over population.
With close approaching Hurricane Rita in 2005, Austin City Limits Music Festival dealt with extremely high temperatures, the fairgrounds began to look like the Oklahoma dust bowl. Bands still played and the show went on.
Due to the issue of dust, the organizers of ACL invested in an irrigation system on the ground the following year. Ironically it rained in the middle of Tom Petty’s set and the newly installed system wasn’t needed. The show was incredible. That year, according the Austin American-Statesman the festival took in $8 million, making it at the time the second highest grossing festival after Tennessee’s Bonnaroo.
The sixth year Bob Dylan, Muse and Arcade Fire were among the headlining performers. That year a fire broke out on the Friday night of the festival resulting in the burning down of two trailers. Four people working the festival were injured, two were seriously injured.
The Foo Fighters, Beck and Robert Plant among other artist brought perfect weather to the festival in 2008.
There was mud everywhere in 2009, the festivals 8th anniversary. Zilker Park had put in a new irrigation system, and replaced the grass. It rained so much the Saturday of the festival that all the hard work was undone, and everyone was covered in mud. The Beastie Boys were forced to cancel that year due to illness, which allowed the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to play a headlining show. The festival continued on, Karen O, the lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, put on a marvelous set. It was electrifying to say the least.
It being the 9th year the Austin City Limits had gotten the ropes down and everything went smoothly. Big bands such as Muse, M.I.A, The Black Keys and the Strokes all played. No one could have asked for better weather that year.
This year Austin City Limits will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary and all the ups and downs along the festivals journey.
The festival is innovative in its music choices. This year’s line up includes Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, Coldplay and Fleet Foxes and is sure to impress any audience. But what makes the festival so innovative is its spotlight on under the radar bands and the up and coming best thing. Diversity is key.
The festival showcases all of Austin’s individuality. The festival grounds houses Austin Eats, with over 30 local vendors. Sweet to savory, Austin Eats offers everything from Amy’s Ice Cream to the world famous Saltlick Bar-b-que.
Also unique to ACL is Austin’s Art market, where you can find art and merchandise sold from local vendors.
This year for the second year in a row, three-day tickets sold out in the blink of an eye. But don’t be discouraged. Scalpers can be found on every block for at least ten blocks in front of the fair grounds.
The festival is definitely worth the trip to Austin. Like the festival says on their website, “In what has become a rite of fall in Austin since 2002, ACL has brought music lovers together for three full days of unforgettable music and an unmistakable Austin vibe.” If you can’t make it to the event, there will be a YouTube channel dedicated to bringing live footage of the event to its across the country fans.
Watch for continuing coverage of the Austin City Limits Festival this weekend.