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ACL Fest 2006


Hot crowd, hotter licks

Throngs of fans remain undaunted by dust and temperatures in 90s

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Slightly cooler weather than previous years and brand-new sprinkler systems didn't stop 65,000 music fans from feeling the intense heat at the Austin City Limits Music Festival on Saturday.

ACL Photos

Ricardo Brazziell

Dave Hernandez performs with the Shine band at the AT&T stage on Saturday, September 16, 2006.

Jay Janner

A girl is carried away after she fainted during the Ben Kweller show at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Zilker Park on Friday Sept. 15, 2006.

Austin-Travis County Emergen- cy Medical Services took four people to the hospital Friday afternoon and four Saturday for heat-related injuries and medical problems.

In addition, medical personnel treated hundreds of people for dehydration, overheating and asthma attacks, said Tannifer Ayres, the medical crew chief at the festival.

"The overwhelming amount of emergencies come from the heat and the dust," Ayres said.

Temperatures reached a high of 97 degrees in downtown Austin on Saturday. Highs in the 80s and threats of storms are predicted for today.

Other injuries, though minor, caused disappointment among fans.

Greenville musician Ben Kweller suffered a double nosebleed, delaying his Saturday AT&T Stage set for 10 minutes. And the blood didn't stop once he started performing.

Grabbing a towel, the 25-year-old declared, "I feel like Nolan Ryan" (after the baseball player's famous ball smack to the face), and promised, "I'll do this until it gets too disgusting."

"If you don't care, I don't care," he added. "I'm not gonna bleed to death in front of you."

It quickly became apparent that the situation was a little more serious than he originally thought. After playing a couple of songs and thoroughly splattering his guitar with blood, he employed a paper product to try to staunch the flow.

As the band went from laughter to looks of concern, Kweller moved to the piano and played a tune called "Falling" before saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, I think that's all I can take, you guys. I'm really sorry. They say that Austin is the allergy capital of the world, but I never believed 'em."

Despite distractions like this, crowds pushed to the front to see and hear acts such as Guy Clark, the Secret Machines, Marah and Galactic, as well as local favorites such as Ghostland Observatory and Ian McLagan, who announced from the stage that his Austin-based Bump Band will open for the Rolling Stones at Zilker Park on Oct. 22.

Strapped into strollers or onto parents' backs, small children made appearances among the teens and adult fans.

According to North Austin's Daniel Malinowski and Diana Damer, parents of 3-year-old Dylan Canyon (yes, he has his own last name), it was because they couldn't find a baby sitter.

"It's a terrible place to be a kid," Malinowski admitted as his tot tumbled into and out of his arms. The couple said the day was "a little too difficult to enjoy" with him, even though they'd already had prior experience: They also brought him for a day two years ago, when he was 1. They said they didn't bring ear mufflers or earplugs for him — a precaution most parents seemed to disregard — but they stayed far away from loud stages.

"We spend our whole time standing in food lines," Damer reported.

Lines stretched nearly into the middle of the park, and waits at dinner time looked to be about 45 minutes, the set length of a band one might have to miss in order to eat at this crowded event.

Although reports persisted of hourlong waits for buses, Lisa Schickel, Capital Sports & Entertainment productions director, said that the shuttles running from Republic Square moved much more smoothly this year than in previous festivals, when they operated out of Waterloo Park.

"We have more than twice the space we used to have," Schickel said. "Now that Friday Austin traffic is over, the buses will run much quicker as well."

Reporters Michael Corcoran and Lynne Margolis contributed to this story.


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