Backstage at ACL

A wrist adorned with this crew band allows Wingspan's Halle Barham the chance to drive some of the biggest names in music through the backstage area of ACL.

Halle Barham

A wrist adorned with this crew band allows Wingspan's Halle Barham the chance to drive some of the biggest names in music through the backstage area of ACL.

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For those who have lived under a rock or have chosen to live a boring life, Austin City Limits, one of the country’s best music festivals has begun. Ranked among top festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits provides endless hours of entertainment, local food caterers, and of course, awesome merch.

In 2013, I was offered a job backstage working with the Fest Express through an old coworker of mine who was the supervisor for all of the drivers. The Fest Express is a system of golf carts that drive non-stop throughout the festival’s backstage to get artists, all-access wristband holders, and crew members where they need to be.

The artists village is a place for the performers and guests to chill in a relaxed and shady environment.

Halle Barham
The artists village is a place for the performers and guests to chill in a relaxed and shady environment.

Over the last three years, I’ve met tons of well-known artists and a lot of show producers, very valuable crew members, and the artist’s buddies. From Skrillex, Iggy Azalea, Walk the Moon, Foo Fighters, and plenty more, I’ve interacted with each person and heard crazy stories.

While working backstage may seem very glitzy, it definitely has hard moments. We typically work 12-15 hour shifts, which means driving a golfcart for 12-15 hours…which means a sore butt and back. With that, we’re dealing with sunburns, crazy weather (especially weekend two the last two years), crazies late at night, a few rude people who take what their given for granted, and of course, the fact that we’d love to be watching the shows.

However, the Fest Express is AWESOME. Despite being a lot younger than my coworkers, I love the people I work with and they treat me like I’m one of them. I’m not looked down upon because I’m a senior in high school.

Drivers of the Fest Express await a call that will send them to different parts of the park to pick up a variety of guests and take them wherever is needed.

Halle Barham
Drivers of the Fest Express await a call that will send them to different parts of the park to pick up a variety of guests and take them wherever is needed.

My favorite part of the Fest Express is the conversations I’m able to hold with people. While my longest route is only ten minutes, I’m still able to hear so many incredible stories, learn a lot of valuable information from producers, and just chat about loving life. Every year at ACL, I learn more about who I am, what life is all about, and that everyone has a purpose. It’s so cool to see hundreds of people each completing a task and disperse like ants. You see stage hands, sound guys, producers, artists, caterers, security – each helping make the festival what its known to be. How awesome is that?

It may seem cliche, but the show must go on. No matter what steps in the way, every person I drive has such a passion for life, their job, and others that they’re willing to help.

Austin City Limits weekend two begins Friday  and finishes on Sunday. With non-stop music, incredible food, lots of music-loving people, and the sunshine, why not join in one the fun?
Austin City Limits happens every year in Zilker Park in Austin. ACL is just another reason why Texas is the best state in the country and Austin is known as the music capital of the world. See you next year.

What would you think would be the best part if you got to work backstage at ACL?

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