The time has finally come, Austin City Limits fans. Try to contain your excitement—there is still lots of prep work to be done.
Festival crews began setting up in the park last week, giving hope and excitement to ticket holders. With just a few days left until the festival's post-COVID debut, use those jitters to plan out the best possible festival season.
Whether it's your first time or you're an ACL veteran, here are a few tips to keep in mind while you prepare for the music.
Don't miss a beat:
What to bring
First things first, put on that wristband before leaving the house so there's no chance of losing it. Also, just as important as your wristband to get in, all attendees must show a negative COVID-19 test obtained within 72 hours of entering the festival. Fully vaccinated attendees may show proof of vaccination instead of a negative test.
Now to the fun stuff.
Pack light. I repeat, PACK LIGHT because you're going to be doing a lot of walking and moving around. That said, there are a few light creature comforts that will make the sizzling sun bearable, starting with a seat: a foldable chair, picnic blanket, whatever, but you'll want to have a place to camp out while waiting in-between sets or enjoying a bite to eat.
If you bring nothing else, make sure you bring a reusable water bottle. Hydration is crucial and water refills are free at ACL, with stations to fill you up all over the park, so save your money on plastic bottles by bringing one.
Sunscreen is a must, especially if you're planning on making it through a full weekend. Lather up but remember that it's not in an aerosol container and weighs less than 3.4 ounces. It's always good to have a bandana on hand, you never know when you might need one, but you can always grab a freebie from festival vendors.
Expect your battery life to be drained from posting on social media and trying to find friends in the crowd. Do not forget a cell phone charger. This year ACL will have antennas through MatSing, which means the typical WiFi challenge will be partially alleviated. You can pack it all in a one-pocket fanny pack, which doesn't have to be clear if it's smaller than 4.5" x 5.5" or any clear bag smaller than 12" x 12" x 6."
What NOT to bring
The ACL gods have spoken and they said no coolers, glass containers or hammocks are allowed. You can bring in a point and shoot camera but ACL prohibits anything with a detachable lens—in fact, the festival prohibits all professional photo and video equipment.If it's illegal, it is probably prohibited. ACL is not allowing any e-cigarettes or vape devices, outside drinks, tents, spiked jewelry, fireworks, bicycles, pets, umbrellas and selfie sticks are all prohibited. Read the full list of illegal items here.
How to get there
Trying to park at Zilker or anywhere close to the park will leave you disappointed—unless you purchase a third-party parking pass, such as at Chuy's on Barton Springs for $100-weekend parking—so it's probably best to nail down another mode of transport because streets nearby will be blocked off.
More likely than not, you'll still have to do some walking if you take an Uber, which partnered with ACL as the official rideshare app. Drivers have designated pick-up and drop-off zones that are often a trek away from the action. Plus, with high demand comes high prices, so you'll need to factor it into your ACL budget. When you're ready to head home, you won't be able to call an Uber until you pass the river, South Lamar Boulevard or the Frontage Road.
Depending on where you're coming from, it may be best to park downtown and shuttle over to Zilker Park. ACL has historically held free, quick and easy shuttles that pick up attendees, bus them all the way to the Barton Springs West entrance and drops them off at the end of the day. You can catch the shuttle at Republic Square Park downtown starting at noon on Friday and 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. CapMetro also has bus routes around the city that run to Zilker Park, like MetroRapid Route 803.
Biking and walking 🚲
You won't be able to take your bike inside the festival but bike parking is available on Stratford Drive after crossing the Mopac Pedestrian Bridge and on Toomey Road at Sterzing Street and on Azie Morton Road.
How to survive the heat
(Roger Ho for ACL)
You're going to sweat, so make peace with that. Luckily, this year's forecast is calling for relatively mild temperatures. Now that that's out of the way, you can stay cool by dressing light, staying hydrated and giving yourself time to rest in the shade, which is where all the "must-brings" come in handy. Keep attire light and breathable, a hat or a bandana to keep the hair out of your eyes and a pair of sunglasses on hand. (Pssst… Don't miss our ACL style guide!) Make sure to take breaks and explore the air-conditioned areas of the park—the merch store and beer hall offer respite from the sweaty exterior.
What to eat
Like every year, ACL is bringing in only local restaurants, so you know you'll be eating well. Prepare yourself for a mark-up while you're there—there are plenty of restaurants around the Zilker area and on Barton Springs Road that you can sneak out to if you don't want to pay festival prices.
If you are going to eat at ACL, this is a great time to try something new because you can visit Torchy's any ol' time. Why not try Taco Bronco or Tamale Addiction if you're in the mood for Mexican food? It wouldn't be Texas if The Original Black's Barbecue or Micklethwait Barbecue weren't on the list, it wouldn't be trendy if you couldn't get a bodega-inspired snack from Wicky's Walkup, and it wouldn't be greasy festival food if you couldn't get a mac and cheese stuffed grilled cheese from Burro.
For your sweet tooth, Skull & Cakebones serves spooky sweets just in time for fall, Lick Honest Ice Creams creates creamy masterpieces with local and organic ingredients or if you're trying to stay mobile, pick up a handheld pie from Tiny Pies.
How to maximize your time
Don't go into the festival blindsided, lest you miss shows that are important to you. The first step in enjoying the festival to its fullest is by familiarizing yourself with the artists—a big part of ACL is discovering new favorites and up-and-coming musicians. This year, almost 20 local artists are performing and the worst feeling is discovering an artist that you could have seen at ACL.
Next, map out which artists you want to see with ACL's daily schedules. Though ACL has yet to unveil its new version of the app, previous versions allow you to schedule reminders for shows you wanted to see.
Don't forget to download the app prior to the festival—ACL can alert guests of set changes, weather and festival news in real-time.
Who to see
Miley Cyrus brought Billy Idol to the stage at this year's Lollapalooza. (Charles Reagan for Lollaplooza)
Miley Cyrus brought out special guest Billy Idol during her Lollapalooza set to perform their duet "Night Crawling," so ACL guests might get a two-for-one. Tyler, The Creator, took the Lollapalooza set with a theatrical performance that relives his past eras. The queen of Hot Girl Summer, Megan Thee Stallion, successfully got the entire crowd on their feet. It's important to keep in mind that some of these artists might be nearing retirement, like George Strait, so seize the opportunity to catch rare acts live.
There are some local treasures you don't want to miss—Black Pumas, of course, a band that needs no introduction and has its own holiday in Austin; Dayglow, an indie-pop project put on by frontman Sloan Struble; Nané, a thoroughly-Austin band formed from UT students Ian Green and Daniel Sahad, Dayglow drummer Brady Knippa and Black Pumas keyboardist JaRon Marshall; and Sir Woman, a solo project by Wild Child singer Kelsey Wilson.
Ultimately, who you decide to see is up to you but know that you won't regret branching out. You may not love every new band you see but you're bound to find at least one new jam. From the biggest stages, Honda and Lady Bird, to the smallest BMI and VRBO stages, there is a show to enjoy on all of them.
The festival will be here before we know it!
Two of Texas' top 10 most wanted fugitives were arrested this week, one of which was captured in Austin, a gang member by the name of Edward De Los Santos.
De Los Santos, a 43-year-old affiliated with the Tango Blast gang, was arrested at a South Austin hotel on Sept. 22 by the U.S. Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force, Texas Department of Public Safety Special Agents and the Austin Police Department.
De Los Santos was wanted for continuous violence against family members, assault with injury, possession of a controlled substance and evading arrest with a vehicle. The Tango Blast member was added to the Most Wanted list on Sept. 2 and has been convicted with multiple accounts of aggravated assault, burglary of a habitation and aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon in the past.
The other, 51-year-old Moises Calderon, was arrested for affiliation with the Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos gang on Sept. 23 in an apartment in San Antonio.
Calderon has been in and out of prison since 1991, when he was convicted of murder and sentenced to 40 years before being let out on parole in November 2014. He has been wanted since violating his parole in October 2020.
Both of the gang members were located thanks to tips, which Texas Crime Stoppers will pay out. Texas Crime Stoppers is funded by the Governor's Criminal Justice Division and pays out cash tips to those who provide information that leads to an arrest.
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Ready to really crack up? Because Austin's growing comedy scene is just for laughs.
Moontower Comedy Festival organizers met outside the historic Paramount Theater on Friday morning to announce that the 10-year-running event partnered with Just For Laughs Group, a Montreal-based international comedy producer, which will greatly expand the festival.
This year, the festival is running from Sept. 22-25 since it was postponed due to COVID but Moontower Comedy Festival said it will return to its normal April schedule in 2022, this time rebranded as "Moontower Just For Laughs Austin" with 10 days of shows instead of just four.
"We have a built-in audience population who are willing to really experiment with these folks," Paramount Theatre Executive Director and CEO Jim Ritts said. "This is a great place to live. Yes, it's expensive, but yes, it's a great place to live and the (comedy) community is starting to grow. I think that's going to be really important for us."
Moontower Comedy Festival already puts on 95 shows over the course of four days—the new "powerhouse comedy event" will add even more specialty content, venues and comics from both festivals to the diverse lineup. The team said more information on the 2022 festival will become available in the coming months.
In the clurbs, we all fam. #Moontower2021
📸: @RachelParkerPix pic.twitter.com/5TfYFLjwJx
— Moontower Comedy (@MoontowerComedy) September 23, 2021
Ritts said with this partnership, the Paramount Theatre, Moontower and Just For Laughs hope to make "Austin the Mecca for comedy in the United States."
"We do get the statement related to us with 'Keep Austin Weird.' What we really care about is 'Keep Austin Experimental," Ritts said. "Be willing to try new things, be willing to be open to failing. That's what a comic does."
As the festival expands, Ritts said its comics will still receive the same compensation as before. According to Ritts, all of the comics that participate in the festival are paid full industry rates, have travel covered and are treated like the "special artists" they are.
"I think stand-up comedians are the single greatest, bravest people in the world. They walk out onto a stage and if it doesn't go well, they have no rescue, there's not another actor on the stage, not a director that they can blame," Ritts said. "One of the things that happened is that as the reputation grows... and as we expand this, there are more work opportunities that will happen over time."
Moontower Comedy Festival is still ongoing until Saturday with dozens of sets still to go. Catch Sal Vulcano followed by Margaret Cho at the Paramount Theatre tonight. Tomorrow holds Girls Gotta Eat at the same theatre and Killers at The Creek and The Cave, among others.
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ACL is more than just a three-day concert—it's a runway. In fact, according to personal stylists Jennifer Young of Forever Styled and Edith henry, ACL weekends are the ideal time to dip your toe into the realm of fashion: those around you will be taking risks and if you don't like it, you can return to normal on Monday.
With T-minus seven days until you have to have your wardrobe prepared, here are some professional tips for you to craft the perfect festival 'fit. Remember, no outfit is complete without self-love.
"The bottom line is, if you feel good in it and you're gonna rock it with confidence, then that's all that matters," Henry said.
Let's get some hard and fast rules out of the way...
- Wear your outfit with confidence. According to Henry, carrying yourself with confidence "is a huge thing that helps people stand out" and therefore the ideal accessory.
- Try on all of your outfits beforehand. Henry, who is headed to Paris Fashion Week on Monday, said she is going to spend the day before trying on all of her outfits so there won't be any surprises when she's ready to take them out on the streets.
- Opt for natural fibers and loose-fitting garments. You're going to sweat, so you'll want an absorbent textile and according to Young, the tighter fitting, the more likely your piece is to trap the heat.
- Wear a brand new pair of shoes or a pair that you want to keep clean. This reason is two-fold, according to Henry: your shoes are going to get dirty and it is paramount to wear comfortable shoes that have already been broken-in (don't let blisters ruin the fun).
- Wear fabric that isn't breathable like latex, nylon or polyester. These fabrics will trap heat and sweat.
- Put on an outfit that doesn't make you feel like a million bucks—Henry said people will know if you don't feel comfortable in your clothes.
- Pile on the accessories. From a comfort perspective, Young said lots of jewelry will weigh you down and make you sluggish. Opt for lightweight accents like hats or bandanas.
- Finally, don't blend in. Take a risk, take some photos—you'll be glad you did.
First-timers, take note, there are a few staples that are essential to take to ACL, starting with hats. Not only does a hat protect your head and face from the sun, it can also take an outfit to the next level. Young said a hat will help keep your look consistent while you sweat and dance out in the elements. Feeding into the early aughts trend, Henry said bucket hats are a very popular option right now. Cowboy hats are always a viable option in Texas and floppy hats are timeless festival garb.
ACL's bag policy is strict: fanny packs that have one pocket only and are smaller than 4.5" x 5.5" or clear bags smaller than 12" x 12" x 6" only. That isn't much to work with and if you're planning on doing a full weekend, carrying a bag is going to become a burden. Grab a fanny pack that you can keep close to your body and doesn't weigh much. Bonus points if the fanny pack adds to your outfit.
How to hide the sweat
Despite predictions for nice weather and temperatures in the mid-80s, you're going to sweat and there is no preventing that. Breathable fabrics and patterns are your friends for hiding those sweat stains. Cotton and other natural fibers, flowy fabrics and mesh are good options for textiles. Tie-dye, floral prints, paisley and neon colors are some of your best bets to avoid looking sticky.
A message for the men
There might not be the same pressure to dress the part, so a little effort goes a long way. Henry and Young recommend trying something new—ACL is an event unlike any other in Austin, so if you don't like the risk, no one has to be the wiser. Tap into your sense of self, pick out pieces that make you feel your best and don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone.
Look to trying different bottoms than you might normally wear for the festival.
"Festivals are the perfect place to express yourself and typically there's very little judgment," Young said. "It's the best place to see people, and to people-watch, and to appreciate the uniqueness of who you are when you're in public."
What are you waiting for? Go try on those outfits!