“F*ck ya rules, f*ck f*ck ya rules!” The crowd was packed tight and as close as they could be to the stage; barely any elbow room to the side, in front, or behind anyone. We all swayed and jumped as one massive blob of bright eyes, arms, and legs singing and shouting along with the band onstage. Die Antwoord was performing–and they were absolutely killing it. The fading sunset to the side of the stage added to the atmosphere as the laser lights and fog pulsated and floated around the stage.
The wild and strangely fitting visual images flashed and played in the background as Ninja and ¥o-landi Vi$$er spat, sang, and screamed their lyrics to a just as insane crowd. Along with two strangely costumed performers, they all danced methodically and wildly around the stage. My brain was on sensory overload and it wanted more. Maybe it was the bass and drums pounding loudly in my head as my heartbeat synced up with what God (DJ Hi-Tek) was spinning. Maybe it was the all-day beer consumption and second-hand weed inhalation. Or maybe the heat was finally driving me insane, but all that I know is–at that moment–I realized that a group I’d hardly ever heard of, let alone seen live, could change my mind about the EDM scene completely.
The Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) was a huge mix of diverse music and people, all coming together in the huge space known as Zilker Park. In addition to Die Antwoord, there was LCD Soundsystem, Major Lazer, Flume, The Chainsmokers, Kygo, Kendrick Lamar, Radiohead, Cage the Elephant, The Naked and Famous, and M83 just to name a few (yes, that’s only a few), and none of which I’d ever seen perform live. All of the music was amazing and this trip was a much-needed break from reality. What a break it was; the sights and sounds filled my ears, mind, and soul. I danced and sang along and didn’t give a damn about anything except for what was happening right then at that very moment, and the moment after.
If there is one city that knows how to put on a weekend music festival (two separate weekends I might add) for over 75,000 people, it would definitely be Austin. There is obviously a reason why this event ran so smoothly–because they’ve been doing it for over 35 years, but 15 years for the official music festival itself. There were a ton of free shuttles running from downtown Austin to Zilker Park, set times that started and ended on time, hydration stations, a kids area, a huge beer tent, local food and an ambience comparable to the likes of Woodstock.
If there is one festival that I would recommend to anyone, it’s ACL. It boasts huge names in music, runs like a well-oiled machine and takes place in an amazing city. Keep it weird Austin.
Co-written by Adam Bentley.