ACL is better with a little help from your friends


Courtesy of Charles Reagan Hackleman

ACL Festival draws a crowd of approximately 450,000 people every year

Emphasis on a little. I’ve been to a lot of music festivals in the last decade, but I’ve never gone solo until last weekend at ACL Fest. I don’t think it’s uncommon for people, especially for extroverts like me, to worry about feeling lonely in situations like these. But here are some reasons why you don’t have to be.

  1. You can go wherever you want: No compromising half of your favorite sets because you don’t want to be separated from your friends. I love my friends, but I can’t see Houndmouth everyday.  
  2. You don’t waste time standing under the big balloon by the flags hoping to acquire an ounce of service: When you do get separated from your friends, it can take quite a while to get back to them.  This is time you could be spending dancing at any given set instead of waving your hands for 20 minutes while listening to a heavy rock set and an EDM set bleed into each other in the middle of Zilker.  
  3. You can meet new people: Obviously you can do this with friends too, but I am more likely to talk to other people when I am alone than when I am with my friends.  
  4. You can be someone else: Have you ever been in a public situation by yourself and just turned on a character personality around people you don’t know and will likely never see again? Highly recommend it.
  5. You don’t have to be rude: I don’t know about you, but when I’m with a large group of people that is trying to get close to the stage by squeezing through people that have been waiting there for long periods of time, I get very uncomfortable.  When I’m alone, I can choose to be considerate, and I can affect less people when pushing for a better spot.
  6. You can meet with multiple friend groups: I live and work in Austin, so I typically know a chunk of people at ACL. I ran into multiple friend groups last weekend and spent some time with each of them when our set schedules aligned.  I even met with my parents on Sunday and it was a blast.
  7. You think of more things to do: When I’m at home, I listen to music while journaling.  When I’m alone at ACL sitting towards the back at a set, I bring my journal and get inspired by the band and crowd in front of me.  I write down everything that’s memorable about each moment. I write down lyrics that make me exhale out of my nose. I write down things I hear while eavesdropping.  I work on my artist statement that’s due on Tuesday. I log my memories and get excited about them.
  8. You learn more about yourself: Just like with anything else, going to a music festival alone makes you more aware of your own desires within the situation.  When you’re not following other people, you’re leading yourself.

After my new acquaintance Gabby left The National to go meet her friends, I heard lead singer Matt Berninger say “Kyle dresses the best out of everyone, I think. I’d vote for him.” And I was thankful I had a notebook, a pen and a minute to myself.