"If you can't go to Dallas, the next best thing is to be at ACL Fest watching the game here." So said Jay Curt McKee of Paris, Texas, who spent most of Saturday early-afternoon in the festival's beer hall watching the Texas Longhorns squeak out a thrilling 48-45 victory over the favored Oklahoma Sooners.
Hearing the third-quarter cheers from our adjoining area in the press tent, we ventured out to find the Horns up 45-21 as the fourth quarter began. Joy turned to grim worry for the hordes dressed in orange as that lead evaporated. Deciding our presence was bad juju, we retreated to the press tent and waited for another big cheer. We got it when Texas kicked a game-winning field goal in the final seconds.
McKee and his wife, Danielle, were at ACL Fest for the first time ever. During halftime, they ducked out for a bit to catch Alice Merton on the American Express stage. Other acts on their agenda Saturday inluded Metallica, the Deftones and Nelly; Danielle also went to catch a bit of Ikebe Shakedown when the Horns still had that big lead.
Like others stuck outside the fest when the 11 a.m. gate-opening time got pushed back almost an hour, McKee checked his phone constantly to keep tabs on the score. They'd scoped out the beer hall as a prime game-watching location on Friday, before reveling in sets by Hozier and Australian group Gang of Youths. They caught a bit of Paul McCartney on Friday and plan to do the same with Metallica tonight before departing in time to miss the major exit crunch.
Suddenly the Horns are 5-1 and may be close to the top-10 in next week's rankings. It's been quite a run since they lost to — ack — Maryland in the opening game. "Humility," photographer John Carrico noted in the beer hall on Saturday, suggesting that the disastrous first game may have helped Texas bear down and work harder.
Next week, the Horns are at home against Baylor in a 2:30 p.m. game. Expect another big crowd in the beer hall during weekend two of ACL Fest.