Are The Austin City Limits Getting Too Large?

Austin City LimitsThe Austin City Limits are growing, and I’m not just writing of the festival. This week the Wall Street Journal placed Austin as the fifth coolest town for young folk to like in the United States, right behind our sister city Portland (OR), Seattle, New York, with Washington D.C. topping the list. This is viewed locally with some swagger and a little trepidation. Austin is growing too fast.

Case in point is this weekend’s Austin City Limits Festival, the annual three-day, eight-stage romp in Zilker Park. The festival started in 2002, but is now one of the largest of it’s kind. This year featured acts include Pearl Jam, The Dave Mathews Band, and Kings of Leon. Before health concerns took over, the festival was to highlight The Beastie Boys as a closing act.

However, ACL was not founded to showcase bands from Seattle, Chicago, Brooklyn, or from wherever. ACL was designed to feature the wide array of Texan musicians and musical styles including rock, country, folk, indie, Americana, hip-hop, reggae, and bluegrass. The festival still finds room for such popular local heroes like Ghostland Observatory, Octopus Project, and Spoon, but as Austin grows so does the festival. Andrew Bird has come from Chicago. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs from Brooklyn, The B-52’s from Athens, and The Dead Weather from Nashville. 65,000 people attend the festival each day, but they sure aren’t learning much about Texan music, Texan culture. Not when Dave Grohl brings Them Crooked Vultures to Zilker Park. I like having these bands in town, in fact I love Kings of Leon, but I don’t like them taking the stage from our locals. ACL is now considered by many to be the equal of Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza, but is that a needed matter? I think the festival might be pushing its, yes, limits. Just like Austin.

What do you think? Has the festival gotten too big, or is this just the evolution of a city considered the fifth coolest town for young folk? Please leave your comments and don’t forget to check out Ghostland Observatory, Octopus Project, and Spoon. I put those links in here for a reason.

Timothy Braun

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