Another year of ACL Fest is in the books, and from our vantage point, it was a successful one.
The weather cooperated beautifully on both weekends, albeit a bit on the hot side for October. The expanded layout offered festivalgoers much needed space to mix and mingle comfortably, greatly improving crowd flow, especially during peak times. Relocating the Barton Springs stage allowed for a larger space able to host bigger names while retaining an intimate feel; the sound quality was excellent, and lines were never long for food or drinks.
Speaking of the latter, we went crazy for Peli Peli’s offerings. ACL served as a preview for the soon-to-arrive South African fusion eatery, which is taking over the former Cantina Laredo spot in the 2nd Street District. A perfectly grilled beef kebab doused with warm garlic herb butter, with just enough bell pepper for flavor rather than filler, was divine. The tangy tomato and cucumber salad was a great foil, and the fried mac ’n cheese balls weren't too shabby, either. Peli Peli was a welcome addition to Austin Eats, especially for those who attend year after year and have eaten at least one of everything available.
Another welcome addition was the wine lounge, a more elaborate version of last year’s wine grove. The covered area had comfy seating, wine barrel cocktail tables, and large misting fans to keep everyone cool. The concept is fantastic, but we would love to see expanded wine selections next year. Still, the vino flowed freely around the packed lounge both weekends.
ACL has always had a charitable, socially responsible side, and this year was no exception. We saw folks at the Hurricane Harvey relief booth gathering information and making donations. And Tito’s Vodka made good on a pledge to donate $1 for every social media share of their #LoveTitos hashtag to Emancipet, a local nonprofit that provides low-cost veterinary services. Thanks to ACL attendees who participated in the initiative, $10,000 will go to help this organization.
Last but not least, the performances were on point, the sound was clear, and there was little, if any, mudding across stages. And kudos to organizers for adding the silent disco, which provided as much entertainment for the folks merrily singing and dancing to the music in their headsets as it did for those watching the spectacle.