I got a pleasant surprise for this ACL weekend when I checked in at the press office Friday. Included among our wristbands was a set of VIP passes for all three days of the festival.
I had hoped to get a glimpse of the VIP Grove to see what could possibly be worth an extra $680 or so for the weekend. Maybe a security guard could escort me through and make sure that I didn’t get my filthy commoner hands on any of the amenities. But with this unexpected windfall, I would actually get to experience it firsthand.
My excitement was short-lived.
Let’s go through the VIP extras bullet by bullet, shall we?
* Food servings daily I only grabbed a couple of meals in the VIP Grove, but both times, the food servings amounted to a buffet line with Central Market’s simulation of Tex-Mex. The fajita meat was excellent, sure, and you could gorge yourself on as much guacamole as you want. For $850, though, you’d think the food would be available from open to close, but that isn’t the case: lunch and dinner are served at set hours. * Gourmet Happy Hour with guest chef tastings I’m pretty sure I missed it Friday and Saturday, as I think it coincided with happy hour in the media tent. Unless the free samples of ceviche were considered a “gourmet happy hour.” Shellfish in the middle of a hot afternoon in Texas? What could possibly go wrong?
* Beer, wine, water and specialty drinks This is where a VIP pass could potentially be worth the money, if you’ve got a liver of iron to withstand a constant onslaught of free wine, Heineken and Tito’s vodka, and a heart of stone to ignore the tip jars.
* ACL mini spa and misting area The guests getting massages certainly looked content, but the masseurs were completely booked for the day by early in the afternoon.
* Shade and relaxed seating in the VIP Grove (no stage seating/viewing) By “relaxed seating,” they mean, “plastic lawn chairs.” But the water fountain certainly added a bit of ambience.
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* Air conditioned restrooms These beat the hell out of a sun-ripened Port-O-Potty for sure. *VIP parking pass (with purchase of four VIP passes only) $3,400 for a VIP parking pass? What a bargain!