10 Thoughts/Observations from ACL Festival:
1. I'm 32 and have been going to festivals for a decade now. Yes, that makes me feel old. What really makes me feel old is showing up at 5/6pm each day and still having sore feet the next day. Can't believe I used to be the guy getting there at noon, and I camped at Coachella twice! Never again.
2. Festivals are all about the experience, and the experience I like the most isn't actually backstage or side stage anymore. I prefer to be with the people. Listen to the kids, bro.
3. ACL Festival continues to be one of the best run, least-chaotic festivals in the business. What they lack in lineup effects (though not much this year) they more than make up for in the caliber of food they offer, the urban scenery (though not quite Lollapalooza level) and the all-ages atmosphere.
4. I write "all ages" but then I think about the nature of the lyrics by artists like Drake, A$AP Rocky and The Weeknd and I realize that family friendly in 2015 is a helluva lot different than family friendly in 1995 when I was a more impressionable young person.
5. My music highlight was Disclosure bringing out soulful singer Brendan Reilly to perform "Moving Mountains". A lot of people don't seem to be as into Disclosure's new album Caracal as they were into Settle, but I think that's a product of two things I'll touch on momentarily.
6. It's still all about the hits. People were walking away during both Disclosure and The Weeknd's performances, until massive hits "Latch" and "Can't Feel My Face" came on, then droves of teens and college kids started running up as if the show was about to begin.
7. You may not buy albums, but you should. Sure, you've been snake-bitten in the past when an album didn't live up to your expectations or you feel you shouldn't feel bad for downloading albums from a friend's personal catalog, but when a drone replaces your job or when art museums go the way of drive-in movie theatres, you'll have yourself to blame. Here's my recommendation: Make a list of your favorite 5 to 10 artists today and pledge to buy their next album and find one (just one) new artist each year to add to this list. My list of artists I buy everything they record includes: Local Natives, Disclosure, Kanye, Tame Impala, Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar, The Internet, Jill Scott, Radiohead and Q-Tip. (plus all the Austin artists I support, e.g. Emily Wolfe, Letting Up, Keeper, etc.)
8. As a sign of where music is today, the artist who had the most sing-alongs of the festival almost certainly had to be Drake. Drake is standing on the shoulders of Kanye West who stood on the shoulders of Jay-Z who stood on the shoulders of Notorious B.I.G. who stood on the shoulders of Brooklyn so that's pretty damn high up if you think about it.
9. There are so many amazing food options at ACL Fest, but Mighty Cone is still my personal favorite.
10. October has officially become my second favorite month in Austin, after April (my birthday month). The weather is warm but not too hot. The nights are cool. The music around town, not just the festival, is stellar. And OU still sucks.