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Austin City Limits Music Festival 2014: More Notes from the Margins

Michael Barnes

My third day at ACL Fest started with the two helpers with a sign outside the gates.

“What’s the most interesting question you’ve heard today?” “This one.” “Thanks. So it’s mostly directions?” “One person asked 29 x 13. Later, we figured out it was 377.” “It gets more interesting at night when they are drunker.”

Roaming food critic: “Glad to see another person in long pants. All day, people have been asking: ‘Aren’t you hot in those?’ What I want to say is: ‘Aren’t you really embarrassed to be seen in short pants past your 12th birthday?'”

Took a break from ACL Sunday to see a matinee of “The King and I” at Zach Theatre. Found it sweeping, sumptuous and thoroughly satisfying. Good to have more than one top-notch theater company in town.

Expanding on a thought from last year: If the University of Texas Longhorns are our Roman Circus, then ACL Fest is our Greek bacchanalia. Think about it: Music, dance, food, intoxicants, partial nudity, stretches of mass ecstasy. At least nobody is torn limb from limb for the sin of sacrilege.

Spoon was playing as I started to leave the field on Sunday. Ideal soundtrack. Couldn’t beat the weather, the crowds or the music. Still, something was missing this year for me: Stories.

It seems I’ve run the gamut of ACL color angles: Visitors from distant lands, inventive flags, costumes or masks, seductive wares in the artisan village, bites from local vendors and, this year, chefs from the Austin Food & Wine Festival, local VIPs, (many) gradations of VIP lounges, surprise hits (this year, novelty act, Iggy Azelea, who drew huge crowd for her, um, spectacle), more visitors from distant lands, celebrities, non-celebrities, freebies. The list kept me busy for years.

Then there’s always the elements: Wind, rain, sun, mud, fire, dust, and one near-miss hurricane. How many ways can one spin that?

There’s still plenty of material at ACL for our music writers, photographers and videographers to document. I’m inclined to leave the field to them the second weekend of 2014, unless needed for interviews.