The ACL Bottom 5

Yeah we’re going there ACL. For all the numerous good things that happen during our little festival, there are always a few things people tend to complain about (whiners). We’re keeping this list just a bit short because I think most agree that the positives of the weekend always outweigh the negatives. Things not included on this list are complaints we have every year like: $8 Lonestars, $6 hamburgers that taste like dirt, long bathroom lines, and the like. Those are things we all hate but won’t be changing anytime soon. No, with this list, we hope the good people at C3 hear our cries and makes this festival the one everybody talks about.  So without further ado….. The Austin Town Hall Top 5 worst moments at ACL after the jump.

1. The Dust

Okay, so some of you are saying: “Hey, wait a minute, you said you were only listing things that are unique to this year and don’t happen every year.” To that statement we say, do you remember the dust from hell being like this last year or even the year before that? I do not. The last time I remember it being this bad was way back in 2005 when Coldplay headlined. That year a hurricane had just hit the coast and it was 107 outside so show producers get a pass. Not this year my friends. Many people who’ve never even dreamed of smoking a cigarette somehow developed a 25 year veteran smokers cough after the dust storm. We did find an article on News 8 Austin saying the problem is soon to be fixed through complete re-sodding of the park. Was that really so hard?

2. Beck’s No Encore Set

Dear Beck, you are a headliner at ACL Festival getting paid more money for one show than I can even imagine, and you don’t come out for an encore? How is that even possible? Most festival goers said your set was pretty good, not great by any means, but good enough to make us dance at least. We understand that maybe C3 higher ups suggested that it was time to stop, but damnit you are a rock star and you can do whatever you want! If producers tell you that time is up, say screw you I’m Beck and run back out on that stage and give us what we want. We like you Beck, don’t make us turn on you. Sincerely, your fans at Austin Town Hall and numerous other disgruntled festival goers.

3. The Black Keys Sound

I’ve seen The Black Keys before and have always enjoyed their lives shows for the intensity and pure energy brought by only two members. That being said, this was one of those bands I was most excited about seeing during ACL and I feel like most everyone felt a bit let down by it. The sound, for a large majority of the set, reminded me of a subwoofer built into the back of a lowrider. All you could hear was the vibrating sound of bass turned up entirely too loud and distorted beyond belief. I know The Black Keys usually go for a pretty dirty sound, but I highly doubt that image was the goal for the night. A couple songs like “Stack Shot Billy” did sound a lot better with a different guitar being used, but once those songs were over, back came that subwoofer sound. Mr. Aurbach either needs to find a new guitar or promptly fire his sound man. If this was your first time seeing the band, don’t let it ruin your impression of them.

4. Foo Fighters Interrupting Band of Horses

I really liked the Foo Fighters back in 1998 when they were still riding the high of their best album The Colour and the Shape, but I’m not really a fan of recent stuff. Regardless of my personal taste, is it really so hard for you to wait maybe 5 minutes Mr. Grohl so Band of Horses can finish their set? Some of you may not like Band of Horses, and I understand that, but just because Dave Grohl was in Nirvana doesn’t mean he should interupt one of the best bands of the weekend. Maybe it’s not his fault you say? Maybe show producers said we were running late and they had to get their butts out their and play? If that’s the case, C3 bosses need to make sure things like this don’t happen.

5. Major Conflicts

Okay okay, I know this DOES happen ever year but am I the only one that thought it was particularly tough this year? I will give a hand to C3 for at least trying to book bands at the same time who have fairly different sounds and create different atmospheres for the audiene. Still, The Black Keys v. Iron & Wine? MGMT v. Spiritualized? Band of Horses v. Tegan & Sara? Those three alone are enough to drive a man insane. On Friday night I found myself standing in the middle of Zilker park unsure of my decision to see Manu Chao. My brain says: “Man, I love Manu Chao but Mars Volta is bound to blow me away. What do I do!?!?!” I finally opted for Manu Chao, which was amazing, but I’m still kicking myself for not seeing Mars Volta. Same goes for missing Tegan & Sara, Spiritualized, and Iron & Wine (especially after The Black Keys sound issues) because who knows when I’ll get the chance to see those bands again? I know it’ll happen again next year, but this year really made me want to be in two places at once.

That pretty much wraps up our coverage for this years ACL save a couple more interviews next week. What did we miss? What really drove you insane last weekend?  Or were you one of the few with no complaints?  Sound off in the comments!

Again, the great pictures come courtesy of Eric Uhlir. Do yourself a favor and head on over to his Flickr page to check out the rest of the goodness. It’s worth it.


  • 6. Kettle Corn Lines

    Face it ACL – girls love Kettle Corn. They will wait half the night to acquire said Kettle Corn. Last year, I had friends that waited a total of a hour and a half. This year, a solid hour. I was told they can only make enough for 8 people at a time. And when you come back with some, half of the park wants a handful.

    7. Walking Lanes

    I’ve just about had enough with the lack of traffic flow organization in the park. They need to set up traffic barriers. My biggest gripe in that regards was the accessibility to restrooms. One area had people setting up chairs in front of all the Port-o-Potties. You had to fight through disgruntled people just to get to them.

  • All good points, but I disagree on the foos / boh thing. I was at both and didn’t have a problem with it. I was pretty close for boh though and just saw the lights of the big stage going off. Didn’t bug me. Foo Fighters ended up playing about +2hrs

    1. Dust = the devil. Should we all start alternating years to give our lungs a break? Over 7 festivals, that’s around 21 days worth of exposure. Stay tuned for the class action suit.

    Mark me down as a skeptic on C3’s plan to re-sod the park. I would be shocked if they could turn that dust bowl into a lasting green carpet of grass. With 65,000 people each day shuffling around, you would have to have something similar to the UT IM fields around 51st ST to withstand that abuse without causing dust. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good start, but I bet UT spends six figures a year on upkeep at those IM fields. I don’t think the maintenance would be there to have something similar at Zilker (a much bigger park.)

    2. No aerosol sunblock. Seriously? We invite goth kids and vampires to see Flyleaf, or Mars Volta or whomever, but don’t let them bring in easily applied protection? It’s not just the angst ridden teenage crowd that is at risk. As a ginger kid “daywalker,” I absolutely take issue with this. I knew this coming in, but most people didn’t and spent $$$ buying the wrong kind of sunscreen. I had a non-aerosol spray and made it in with it only after telling the lady at the gate, “you don’t understand, I’ll die if i cant bring this in.”

    3. No food of any kind allowed inside – No blades, no bows, leave your granola bars here.

    4. Ditto on Black Key’s Sound issue. Don’t know what the sound guy was thinking. It had to sound shitty back where he was as well.

    5. Cheap shot, but always an easy target – X band wasn’t there. Radiohead, MMJ, the Hold Steady…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *