How to get to Barton Springs Pool during ACL Fest

It’s a hot ACL weekend.
Sunday’s high of 92 will feel like 100 degrees if there aren’t any clouds, so if you get a wild hair to take a dip in Barton Springs Pool, here’s what you know about how to get there during the festival.
The walk from Barton Springs Road to the Robert E. Lee Road entrance to Barton Springs is a nice stroll along the creek and the hike-and-bike trail. Addie Broyles / American-Statesma

First, for locals or anyone not going to ACL: If you are just coming to swim, the parking lot on the south side of the pool is open for swimmers only. You could bike or walk on the trail to get there, too.

If you are going to the festival and want to pop out for a memorable dip in a historic pool, you’ll have to walk about half a mile from the Barton Springs Road entrance, but it’s along a beautiful part of Austin’s beloved greenbelt system, so you can catch kayakers and paddleboarders floating in Barton Creek. Walk along Robert E. Lee Road (yes, it’s controversial) and then turn right when you get to the Barton Springs Pool parking lot. If you walk along the trail, you’ll walk right to the entrance.

It takes about 10 minutes to walk from the East Barton Springs Road entrance to the entrance of one of America’s coolest pools.

Here’s why you can’t swim in Lady Bird Lake. Wait — you can’t swim in Lady Bird Lake?

You can use a card at a kiosk outside to pay the entrance fee ($3 for Austin residents, $8 if you are from out of town) or you can use cash at the booth. Stamp your hand if you want to get back in later in the day. Admission is free after 9 p.m., which means there’s often a large crowd on warm summer (and fall) nights.

The only entrance to Barton Springs Pool that is open right now is the one facing Robert E. Lee Road on the south side of the pool. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Note that swimming in Barton Creek or Lady Bird Lake is technically illegal, even though you’ll see lots of people – and their dogs – swimming for free in the spillway at Barton Springs Pool.

Here’s the best part: The pool is open from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m., so you can go before or after the music.

The mornings are warm and moon is still bright enough to make for an amazing nighttime swim, if you needed another excuse to check out one of Austin’s most iconic spots.

Barton Springs Pool is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. nearly every day of the year. It is closed during the day on Thursdays. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman


Barton Springs Pool is one of the largest pools in the country. It is spring-fed and home to an endangered species of salamander. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

ACL Fest: Prinze George proves a popular pick with chill indie-pop

The band Prinze George performs on the first day of the 2016 Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park Sept. 30. 09/30/16 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN
The band Prinze George performs on the first day of the 2016 Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park Sept. 30. 09/30/16 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Brooklyn-based indie-pop trio Prinze George, no relation to the UK-based royal toddler, played to a packed tent Friday afternoon at the Tito’s Stage. (Technically it’s the “Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage,” but no way am I going to type out all that marketing nonsense. Wait… No!) While it seemed many were posted up solely for a chance to sit and soak up some shade, as the set ended the masses dispersed, so these up-and-comers seem to have a solid pull for a group fest newbies — and rightfully so.

Singer Naomi Almquist will be hard to top as best dressed at the fest, platinum-haired in a pearly pink dress and towering high heels. Her voice is porcelain and smoldering, somewhere between Stevie Nicks and Lana Del Rey. That voice paired with “Stranger Things” retro synths and live drum and guitar made for a chill, swaying soundtrack this cool Austin afternoon.

Isabelle De Leon deserves a nod as most likable drummer of the day: bright blue-haired and all smiles, she was clearly having a blast behind a massive honey-colored kit. (There’s just something satisfying seeing a performer having as much fun as the crowd.)

If you can’t wait for ACL Fest weekend two to see them, Prinze George plays Tuesday night with Cold War Kids at Emo’s.

The pros and cons of having Sting as your dad: Eliot Sumner sizzles at ACL

The actor Pierce Brosnan watches Eliot Sumner perform at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Zilker Park Friday September 30, 2016.  JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
The actor Pierce Brosnan watches Eliot Sumner perform at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Zilker Park Friday September 30, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Being the child of a legendary artist is surely a blessing and a curse. Let’s pretend for a minute your father is one Gordon Sumner, a musician who goes by the name “Sting.” What are the ups and downs of being dealt such a hand?

Pro: Your old man, who has made millions creating music and is one of the most influential recording artists alive, is probably going to be totally cool with you choosing to pursue music over, say, accounting.

Con: Anyone’s CliffsNotes version of you and your own art is going to inevitably include a mention of daddy dearest. (Sorry to be part of the problem…)

Pro: Who better to coach and shape those teenage garage band rockstar aspirations into actual musical talent than man who’s got more hits than Barry Bonds?

Con: The shadow of your dad hangs over you, colossal and as inescapable as the sky above.

Pro: Your DNA gifts you with human being-building code containing many of the more desirable attributes of your maker.

The pros have it. And, bonus, if you happen to be Eliot Sumner and band, it turns out you’ve got more than enough talent to warrant more than a cursory, celeb-obsessed rubber-necking listen.

Eliot Sumner returned to Austin Friday for an early afternoon ACL Fest, after appearing at South by Southwest back in March.

Statuesque and stony-eyed cool, Sumner is a confident and captivating singer and does double duty plucking driving, punchy bass from a battered old Fender bass. At this first day of ACL Fest 2016, Eliot wore an oversized black sweatshirt and big black leather boots with shorts. Sumner channels that androgynous rock ‘n’ roll cool that calls to mind David Bowie (or Sting). Her three-piece backing band provides glimmers of John Carpenter ’80s synths and drum machines alongside dreamy and sometimes menacing, muscular electric guitar (see: the band’s outstanding “Halfway to Hell.”)

Random celeb note (even after kind of judging such obsession above): Equally unfairly attractive/talented human being Pierce Brosnan was in attendance and seemed to dig Eliot.

Rebelution brings chill vibe of “roots reggae music”

“We’re groovin’ / There’s nothin’ like roots reggae music.”

Rebelution’s early afternoon ACL set was, for better or worse, a demonstration of those lyrics brought to life. If you came to the fest to get your groove on–to, say, take off your shirt, shake your tail feather in slow motion, and wave your arms in the aromatic air–then the Santa Barbara, California, six-piece was for you.

The band took the stage with promise, bringing an upbeat, engaging energy via trumpet, saxophone, keys, acoustic guitar, and pulsating drums and bass. Singer/guitarist Eric Rachmany repeatedly called out to the crowd, forgoing the common ACL acronym and urging “Austin City Limits” to wave its hands in the air and sing along to feel-good lines like “We’ll be dreaming safe and sound” and “Turn it up / I wanna lose it.”

But nobody ever lost it. Instead of building on the audience’s sunny mood and grooving goodwill, Rebelution settled into a loose, laid back set. Rachmany mentioned “healing the nation” in a song but never took the opportunity between jams to address any specifics of what needs healing and how. (I found myself longing for 1990s-era Rage Against the Machine and frontman Zack de la Rocha’s epic, boldly pro-Zapatista rants.)

Rebelution is back for its second ACL Fest and certainly drew a sizable crowd. But knowing Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue were across the park, throwing down one of the undisputed sets of the fest–even surprising the ACL audience with special guests from the University of Texas marching band–made Rebelution’s frat-hippie vibe that much less compelling.

Not that the band itself would notice. As the lyrics go on “The Sky Is the Limit: “You say I’m a fool / I say whatever / I’m in it for the good vibes together / and the love lasts forever.”