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ACL Fest Day 3.1: Flag drill

Michael Barnes

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 6, 2013

Quick obligatory flag drill. It should be obvious by now that, if you want to signal your unique presence to friends at the ACL Music Fest, don’t use the flag of the great Lone Star State. Ditto the Longhorns’ white and burnt orange. You are not alone. Other repeated and therefore potentially disorienting images: Skulls, butterflies, sports logos, peace signs, any national flag consisting of three color bars. Also confusing are the five Scandinavian flags, which are basically skinny crosses executed in different color combos. Even after years of exposure, one can mix up Iceland and Norway. All of the above samples are even more difficult to spot if the breeze dies down, leaving your repetitive or confusing image limp and all the more so befuddling. “When anybody texts us their location, they send the flag,” says TK Knowles. “One friend has just “Oops” on his flag. Real simple, but easy to find.” Some flags are fiercely legible — “(Expletive) don’t kill my vibe” — if not always original. I like this one: “Hello. If you are looking for me, I’m here.” Detected three or four flags associated with gay culture, including one for the leather nation. A fairly recongizable selection from fests pasts is formed by the image of a wine glass decorated with empty bottles. When it comes to national flags, pick one that’s obscure or obsolete, like East Germany or the Trucial States. Flags with vaguely political histories — “Come and get it” and “Don’t tread on me,” for instance — have been conscripted periodically by extremists and are best left for rallies of another nature. Images of beer mugs and flags that spell out “Cold Beer” don’t stand out. But an upside-down pegasus does. One family made their special ACL flag out of scraps of fabric and leftover paint, producing a peacock-like paisley symbol all their own. If you choose a slogan, be sure to also select big print. One can waste a lot of time trying to decipher tiny type. And please, nothing patently offensive. We’re having a good time. Don’t sour it.