What It's Like To Attend an ACL Live Taping

Categories: Texas History

austin_city_limits_live_taping.jpg
Gavin Cleaver
No photos from inside. Cameras were banned. These TVs are just outside the door.

If you are ever fortunate enough to win tickets allowing you to attend a taping of this venerable televisual institution, then you will have a Good Time. That is not in doubt. You probably won't ever win tickets, though, unless you're super awesome like me. You being this super awesome is strongly doubtful. Here then, is what being this super awesome is like.

First, getting there really, really, really early is a good idea if you harbor ideas of being near enough to the front to get your ugly mug on television. Arriving at 6 p.m., which is the time they start issuing contest winner wristbands, will mean you find yourself at the back of a line of about a hundred people already, even though you're not even getting into the venue until 7:40 p.m. There's another line beyond this line, you see.

Importantly, though, the 6 p.m. to 7:40 p.m. line has easy access to a bar with an excess of vodka which, assuming you persuaded someone to take the +1 everyone wins, means you can take it in turns to stand in line while the other half acquires the necessary alcohol.

Of course, you might decide that, with the taping having only a few hundred people inside a 2,500 capacity venue that you don't give one solitary shit about standing up for another couple of hours because you'll get in anyway, in which case why did you turn up early? You disgust me.

Once you are inside, there is wonderful news. Cell phones are banned, even for getting out of your pocket and checking Twitter, so this will be the only concert you ever attend where some idiot isn't making a film he or she will never watch again right in front of the eyes you were using to watch the thing the iPhone is filming.

There are also some deftly swooping cameras on cranes which, now and again, will point disconcertingly at your face while you try to remember how it was you put on all this weight, so you can explain that to people when they ask about your weight gain, and have it inscribed on your tombstone so future generations can sate their curiosity too.

The crane cameras have "safe zones" around them of intimidating blue electrical tape on the floor, the inviolability of which will be policed aggressively by a very short man with a Willie Nelson haircut. To be fair, the threat of being repeatedly bashed in the head with a camera, while on television (because you know they're going to keep that in the final cut) should be enough to keep you away.

Finally, at least in this case, the show will be considerably shorter than usual. You didn't pay for tickets anyway, so that seems fair. If you want the full thing, you're probably going to need to buy an actual ticket to a normal show with all those non-contest-winning plebeians. However, your haircut will not then be immortalized for generations to ponder over. You win some, you lose some.

As a side note, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were incredible. But you knew that already. Look for my excess of hair on public television in October, apparently.


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