Austin Kiddie Limits (ACL Fest) 2009: Final Thoughts

PA024123.jpgSo I've talked a lot about Austin Kiddie Limits and the 2009 Austin City Limits Music Festival generally. (Need proof? Here's Day 1, part 1, Day 1, part 2, Day 2, and Day 3.)

I thought I'd wrap up my coverage with a few final thoughts and suggestions for improvement about the AKL stage, plus add a few pictures.

1. The revised stage configuration of this year's AKL stage was an improvement. Less sound bleeding from the Xbox 360 stage next door meant that the AKL artists were never drowned out. Yay! And maybe it was just my imagination (or possibly the cooler weather), but the new layout seemed blessed with more shade.

2. It's still too loud between sets. Lord knows we're big fans of Romeo and his BBoy City crew (quite possibly Miss Mary Mack's favorite part of the festival this year), but they're forced to crank the volume to a point that it drives all the families away from the stage. Perhaps next year they can swap the dance stage and the pottery/kefia tents so that it's pretty close to the stage and the volume can be reduced.

3. There are probably points where the sound on the AKL stage during sets can be reduced -- I could hear 23 Skidoo's set close to half a mile away as we were crossing Lady Bird Lake.

4. Moving on to the weather -- I will gladly take a chance of (or actual) rain in return for cooler weather. I'm so glad that the festival's been gradually pushed back into October and am happy to see it further pushed back to the second week of October (Oct. 8-10, 2010) next year.

5. The guest sets have been really cool, and I'd love to see them used even more to drive families to see bands they wouldn't have seen otherwise. That was the case for me with K'Naan on Friday. I also got a chance to meet Ben Sollee backstage briefly on Sunday before heading back to Arizona, and based on this clip of Sollee covering "Wild World" later that day, I have a feeling that if I'd seen him at the AKL stage playing his cello, I'd have been sure to see him later that day on a bigger stage. (Though it should be noted, I did see him playing with Abigail Washburn the year before.)

6. The fact that the AKL stage hosted both K'Naan and Ben Sollee, both Mr. Leebot and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, speaks to the fact that the stage can handle a fair amount of diversity, which is somewhat reflective of the ACL Festival as a whole. There's obviously only so much diversity you can have when you've got just 8-10 acts playing a set or two, but I encourage Tor to continue mixing it up as much as possible.

7. Can these festivals really be done with families? Well, it's definitely hard work, but if you're willing to sacrifice some of your own needs (sorry, Karen O, maybe next time), you can definitely see a lot. I'm conflicted because I have to balance my own musical tastes with that of my kids with my need to cover the festival (and the AKL stage in particular) on the press pass with the fact that my family lives in Austin and I want to see them, too. Sometimes I felt like I did none of those things well. But the AKL stage is situated about as well as it can be to serve as a base station for families exploring the festival. (And, hey, there's always babysitters.)

8. Finally, thanks to everyone at C3, particularly Tor, for making the AKL stage (and the press area) run so smoothly. Hope everyone reading got a good sense of the weekend of fun... Pictures after the jump...

Milkshake (Friday)


BBoy City (Friday)


K'Naan (Friday)


Lunch Money (Friday)


Master of Ceremonies Tor Hyams


Ralph's World (Sunday)

Ralph's World - Sunday at ACL.jpg