By Jim Schutze
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8. The schedule giveth and it taketh away. Year in and year out, ACL's performance schedule grid is responsible for more frustration than even the lines for the port-o-johns. Last year, the timing of certain sets was especially annoying. At one point, Sonic Youth, Ryan Bingham, Vampire Weekend and Robert Randolph & The Family Band all took to their respective stages within minutes of each other, and in vastly different areas of the park. It was heart-wrenching. Make no mistake, though; there are tons of powerful conflicts over the course of this coming weekend as well. The first major one comes at the tail-end of Friday night, when attendees will surely be torn between the act everyone says they want to see at this year's festival (Kanye West) going head-to-head with the band everyone is afraid to admit that they want to see more (Coldplay).
9. ACL is where everyone knows their name. Here's a helpful tidbit when making those tough decisions about which acts to see: Skip the acts you've seen at ACL in previous years. Granted, that means skipping the likes of Ray Lamontagne, Bright Eyes, TV on the Radio and Iron & Wine this time around — acts that are all touring behind new albums — but, hey, tough choices will need to be made, and this is one easy way out of driving yourself mad.
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10. Festival season limits. The best and worst thing about ACL is the fact that it comes at the end of the summer festival season and that its lineup isn't even announced until after a few of the major festivals have actually taken place. Fact is, year in and year out, there's going to be some redundancy between what those earlier festivals had to offer and what ACL is bringing to the table. Sure, while that may steal from the climactic nature of the lineup reveal, it doesn't subtract from the quality. Who cares if many of the names that top ACL's lineups have played the big stages at Coachella and Lollapalooza earlier in the year? When you've got West, Wonder, Arcade Fire, My Morning Jacket, Coldplay, Krauss, Cee-Lo Green, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and so many others playing inside the confines of one single park, it's the most righteous park around.
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