4

Dispatch From the VIP Grove

What do you know? I'm feeling much more civilized, and all it took was a brief trip to the VIP Grove to see how the other half lives. The festival's sponsors and other honored guests - as in people willing to shell out about 600 clams on top of the $170 three-day ACL pass - are privy to all sorts of amenities: free food from tony Austin restaraunts, full bar, Internet lounge, mini-spa including masseuse, free cowboy hat from Blackstone wine merchants and about half the trees in Zilker Park. Guess $600 buys a lot of shade.

The only drawback is that it's kind of hard to see any music when you're schmoozing with the high rollers - who are dressed an awful lot like everyone else here - unless you're happy witih whoever's on the nearby Dell stage. Against Me! was during my little sojurn, and the new Clash didn't disappoint. (My old boss, Austin Chronicle publisher Nick Barbaro and his wife Susan Moffat, were about to go watch the Floridian politico-punks, taking care to make sure son Zeke didn't spy them rocking out.)

I think I'll stick with my little media wristband; over the weekend it's been no big deal to look up from the laptop and see Sharon Jones or Scott Biram walk by. Still, I think I may go back later for that massage. - Chris Gray

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