Austin City Limits Approaches

September 30, 2009  

By Sam Todd

Every year in October, thousands of music lovers converge on the city of Austin to see their favorite bands perform over a three-day festival that many refer to as ACL, or Austin City Limits.

ACL, which has taken place since 2002, has become one of the nations most well-known music festivals, and this year will host over 130 bands on eight stages in Austin’s Zilker Park.

Austin is just over a three hour drive from Southern Methodist University’s Highland Park campus, and plenty of SMU students will be heading south on I-35 after class this coming Friday. SMU senior Mimsy Brewster is one of those students heading to the festival, which will be her first ACL experience.

“I’ve only heard amazing things about ACL, and I can’t wait to get down there. A bunch of my friends from SMU are going, and there are seven of us cramming in a car and driving down together on Thursday night,” said Brewster.

Brewster, a native of New Orleans, grew up attending the New Orleans Jazz Fest and Voodoo Fest, two of her hometown’s most popular outdoor music festivals.

“I’m a huge fan of music festivals, and always loved going to Voodoo and Jazz Fest when I was younger, which are our versions of ACL. This is the first one I’ve been to in Texas, so we’ll have to see who can do it better,” said Brewster.

“But regardless of if it’s held at home or in Austin, I can’t wait to see Kings of Leon,” she added.

Kings of Leon, a band who has gained incredible popularity with many of their singles topping the charts, is just one of the performers that students are talking about here on campus.

Joining the Kings of Leon are The Dave Matthews Band, Girl Talk, Ghostland Observatory and Citizen Cope, just a few of the popular groups also taking to the stages this weekend.

ACL has always been very popular with SMU students, with strong numbers heading down every year. Like Brewster, SMU senior Brooke Morin will also be attending the festival for the first time this year, and is equally excited for the weekend.

“I’ve never been, but I’m really excited about being down there for all three days and seeing a lot of my favorite bands,” said Morin. “It’s really cool that the festival has all different kinds of music in one place, and attracts tons of different people. My friends that have gone in the past all say that everyone has so much fun, and that there are tons of interesting characters, making for some great people-watching.”

One of the selling points for the festival is its diverse line-up, which is something that attracted Morin.

“I’m really excited to see Passion Pit and STS9, which are two bands with really different sounds that you wouldn’t expect to see on the same ticket. The range of performers is really what makes ACL stand out,” she said.

Although it’s been talked about all over campus this week, not everyone can get away for the weekend.

SMU senior and music enthusiast Courtenay Paris may not be going this time around, but remembers how much she enjoyed it when she went in 2007.

“The lineup that year was incredible, and it was great to experience all different kinds of music, plus the weather was perfect. I loved being outside all day, and hearing live music wherever we were in the park was the best,” said Paris. “If no one we were interested in was performing, we’d just walk around and take it all in.”

Paris loved the line-up that year, and thinks the performers this year should be really great as well.

“Yo La Tengo, My Morning Jacket, Common and Andrew Bird were definitely some of my favorites from that year, but I’m really sad I’m going to miss bands like The Dirty Projectors, Girl Talk, The B-52’s, The Dead Weather, Daniel Johnston and Bon Iver this year,” said Paris.

Paris’ main advice for this year’s festival-goers was to experience it all.

“Go the whole day and see as much as you can, and try to expose yourself to new stuff you’ve never heard of before. Walk around and take it all in, and see what kind of stuff you end up seeing,” said Paris. “There are tons of lesser-known acts that many haven’t heard of, but you might surprise yourself and find your new favorite musician.”

“It’s going to be a lot bigger than you might expect, and make sure to take as much water as you can and bring something you can sit on,” she recommended. “Oh, and the people-watching is world class.”

For more information visit the ACL website.

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