September 15, 2007

This weekend, I am in Austin, attending the Austin City Limits Music Festival.  It is a festival where over 100 bands of all genres take various stages over a 3 day period.  It brings in a crowd of around 60-75,000 people per day.  This is my third year going, because I love music.  The weather is clear, and the temperature is set to top off at around 95 degrees.  Did I mention that this is an outdoor festival?  It is amazing what we will put ourselves through to enjoy our hobbies.  Since I enjoy live music, I find nothing wrong or unusual to subjecting myself to 90+ degree weather, all day, for 3 days, with little or no relief from the sun, in order to see live music.  On any other given day, I would shun the opportunity to be in the hot weather all day.  If, for example, yard work were to take place of the 100+ bands, I may feign illness or some other excuse to stow away indoors for a good period of my time.  However, live music is involved, and it suddenly becomes acceptable.  I love coming to festivals like this, regardless of the heat and the crowds.  You get to see people from all walks of life, with one common denominator – music.  This festival is actually known for its relatively small level of disobedience, crime, disorder, and policing.  It’s amazing, considering such a large group of people are congregating.  I believe that is what does keep us all in line, though.  It is what keeps everyone on the same level of “let’s just get along” mentality.  We all want to keep it at this stage, for as long as we can.  The Austin City Limits Music Festival is still in its infancy, as far as major festivals are concerned, with this being only its 6th year in operation.  So far, it has grown to such an enormous event without an overbearing police force, and without major conflicts among different groups.  It’s actually great to see such a wide audience, filled with different backgrounds, coming together with such small opposition.  As mentioned earlier, this is my third year to attend the ACL Music Festival, and each year me and my cohorts wise up a little more about the rituals of the festival: what to bring, what to leave, what to look for, and how to best view the bands.  We each have our own personal schedules printed up, some differing elements, some the same, so it is inevitable that we will become separated at one point or another.  One thing that we have learned is extreme patience, and trust, throughout our years at this festival.  The first year, I was left alone at night, in the middle of a crowd of people, when others had left to find a restroom.  When they did not return 15-20 minutes later, I started to worry.  The worry turned to anger, and fears that I had been left behind.  Once the show was over, and I started to find my way out, I realized how impossible it would have been for us to locate each other, given the circumstances.  We all had cell phones, but the reception was non-existant – even for text messages.  When I finally located my friends, we were all angry with each other, having thought that the other parties were simply ignoring our pleas.  It wasn’t until after the show, and after messages started coming through, where we realized where the main fault lied – miscommunication.  So, from that point on, we all realized that we needed to come up with a sort of “lost and found” process for when we became separated.  Even though this is our third year, this seems to be the one area where we are still severely lacking in organization.  However, with our past experiences, we have grown to have more faith, trust, and patience with each other when we do become separated.  There are certain landmarks that we now find useful to congregate at, when we become separated, and this in turn allows us to become more independent.  Now, instead of sticking side-by-side throughout the event, we can each wander around aimlessly, knowing that we will eventually find each other throughout the day.  When we do, it’s usually a 5 minute meeting to talk about what we’ve seen, and then another blind stab at where we may want to meet up in a few hours.  There will be times where we still get lost, or one person arrives after others have congregated and left – but we are all creatures of habit, and this habit seems to be more difficult to break.  I am sure that we will pick it up a little better next year, and the year after, until we have the perfect system.  In the meantime, I think there is nothing better to do at this point but to take a nap in the shade, and just wait for that faint text message or meeting location to make its way through.  After all, we are on vacation, and may as well just relax.

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