Category Archives: Family-friendly

Austin City Limits 2019

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Spoiler: not much Bad, very little Ugly, so much overwhelming Good)

Story & photography: Kail Rose

It feels like we were just recently sitting on the lawn at Zilker for Paul McCartney: Austin City Limits 2018, but alas, here we are a full year later and ACL Festival 2019 is in the bag. With 8 stages and over 125 performances repeated on two consecutive weekends, it lived up to the mantra: “Music; lots of it.” As musicians and music lovers of all descriptions descended upon our city, Austin once again became the shining beacon of Live Music, presenting fans with another great festival -Texas style- to make all other festivals jealous. Bringing folks from far and wide, the audience was a nice mix of local music lovers and out-of-towners, united in their love of live music.

Picture

This year’s headliners included the inimitable Guns n’ Roses, The Cure and  Mumford & Sons, along with Childish Gambino, Cardi B, Billie Eilish, Tame Impala and Robyn. But the festivals “not-quite-Headliner” artists drew just as many; with record crowds showing for Lizzo, overwhelming energy in the 21 Savages crowd, and adoring fans piling in for, well, just about every act. It was truly an eclectic lineup – as only Austin can pull off. Local artists Gary Clark Jr and Kady Rain gave notable performances; the latter wowing crowds on Weekend Two with her defiantly upbeat, colorful performance, an uplifting message and all the energy and flair we have come to expect of the rising Austin superstar. K. Flay blew us away with an eclectic, upbeat mix of hits on the VRBO stage, followed by equally excellent sets by Metric and Misterwives. Rosalia and Natalia Lafourcade infused a spicy spanish sound to the Honda Stage, while Judah and the Lion rocked our socks off on the T-mobile stage. And Childish Gambino’s supposedly last-ever show under his respective monniker left us yearning for more. How’s that for cruel?


Picture
Austin’s own Kady Rain on the VRBO stage, Weekend Two. Photo courtesy of Charles Reagan Hackleman for ACL Fest 2019.
Picture

Friday kicked off Weekend One with a bang. Guns n’ Roses delivered two full hours of heart-hammering rock n’ roll, splattered with nostalgia and many a Slash solo intermission. Thom Yorke kept us all scratching our heads with a choppy, nonchalant performance. It was weird and a little dismissive, but hey, it’s Thom Yorke and he can do whatever he damn well wants up there. The undeniable legacy of The Raconteurs, RL Grime and Tame Impala more than made up for it. 

Saturday saw incredible sets aplenty. The aforementioned local power and prowess of Gary Clark Jr preceded fantastic sets by floral-frocked songstress Lauren Daigle, crow-surfing by Hippie Sabotage, Canadian Rock royalty Metric, and unexpectedly brilliant moments with Billie Eilish – if you caught her interview on the hidden Bonus Tracks stage, you’d be just as head-over-heels as we now are. Superstars The Cure headlined the evening adjacent to Childish Gambino and it was a very tough decision on which act to catch first.​

Before we knew it, we’d reached Sunday and the star power was strong. Banks, Rosalia, Fisher, Griz, Rebellution, Third Eye Blind and Kacey Musgraves played flawless sets. Lil Uzi Vert did a (slightly-too-predictable) no-show, disappointing fans. Lizzo’s shockingly overwhelming crowd sardined themselves into what little space was available at the Miller Lite stage and revelled in her uplifting message. While many expressed frustration at the crowd, Lizzo is the one artist so deserving of such reception; from her immaculate performance to undeniable talent and inclusive message. I still get goosebumps reminiscing on this particular set. Late in the day, headliners Mumford & Sons brought the members of Austin High School band for a charming local cameo, while Cardi B brought us a slightly-delayed and definitely-too-short set that was actually a whole lot of fun.

Picture

​We headed home that night for a few short days of rest before Team dRiFFt returned for Weekend Two to do it all over again. This time, we were armed with allergy meds and bandanas to combat the dustbowl and breathing hazard of Zilker grounds trampled by hundreds of thousands (if you’re attending in 2020, plan on bringing both – you’ll be glad you did), and warm sweaters and cozy onesies as the temperatures dropped steeply. Friday, like last week, was simply stellar. Disappointingly, Megan Thee Stallion was late and missed her set, angering fans. The cold was abrupt, but a very pleasant change from the overwhelming heat of Weekend One. Robyn replaced Cardi B and while it wasn’t Cardi, it was still a party with the Sweedish pop star. The undeniable highlight of Weekend Two was Lars Ulrich’s oddly satisfying surprise cameo with Mumford & Sons during The Wolf.

Picture

True to form, ACL delivered another stellar lineup and great music spanning a wide variety of genres. While the Seventeen-year-old festival has evolved over the years, 2019’s action-packed weekends are proof positive of the timelessness of Jone’s and Attal’s founding vision in 2002; great music, good friends, amazing food, art, culture and an excellent soundtrack framing late-summer festival photo opps. Girls in flowery festival attire with monstrously looming stages behind them, gangs of groupies waiting hours in a crushing crowd to live out their dream of a front-row view for the headliner. Chance meetings with incredible folk who’ve traveled long distances for the opportunity to live out one weekend in Zilker park for the renowned festival. The group of guys who’ve probably (definitely) had one too many at the beer hall, but are now effervescently fangirling over Slash. Great company – so long as you give them a wide berth. And it’s you and a best friend relaxing, soaking up the scene in the sun on the lawn of a tried-and-true Austin tradition. Thanks, ACL 2019 – it’s been a blast. See you next year!

River Revival Music Fest: Texas’ best-kept festival secret (…ssshhh!!)

It’s roughly 3pm, though you’re not entirely sure because your cell phone battery died hours ago and you made the decision to leave it somewhere in the backseat of your car after unpacking the tent, cooler and camp chairs. Cell phones aren’t needed here. A gentle breeze whispers through the cypress and your feet dangle over the side of your hammock in the dappled sun.
Picture

The river’s edge below you trickles and bubbles, interrupted only by the sound of children shrieking and splashing in the shallows on the far shore. There’s a bikini-clad trio bobbing haphazardly in their colorful donut-, octopus- and unicorn-shaped tubes; caught from the mid-river current by a rustic rope harness slung around river boulders. They laugh in unison, an Austin Eastcider in one hand while the other trails in the cool river current. The numbing of your Lone Star beer in one hand reminds you to take a chilly sip. Somewhere up on the hill, behind you, there’s an indie rock band starting soundcheck. Faint wisps of barbecue-y smoke waft down from the kitchen, where Team Little Chef HTX is whipping up something surely magnificent for your evening feast. 

Picture

Now in it’s fifth year, River Revival 2019 is not just another music festival. It’s a mash-up of handpicked Texan music, the tried-and-true summer tradition of floating down the river, a camp out, a cookout, and a family retreat. It’s a 750-strong community of folks collecting on the Guadalupe River at KL Ranch Camp just outside of New Braunfels, TX for good music and a low-key river weekend. And 2019 was sold-out – testament to its’ untold secret status within the Texas music fest scene.

Bringing in culinary talent courtesy of Little Kitchen HTX, and vendors and artists such as @Babeswith_braids, Black Swan Yoga on the lawn, mind-bending interactive art by @1nput0utput and of course amazing drinks, cocktails, micheladas, mimosas and anything else you could dream up from sponsors Austin Eastciders, Lone Star, Dulce Vida, Waterloo and TLC Vodka. It is the remedy to the stresses of everyday adulting and it’s also the perfect place to escape; to celebrate just how wonderfully diverse and talented our musicians are, here at home, in the middle of Texas. The best part? Your ticket was all-inclusive: camping, floating, music, food and drinks (yes, an open-bar for those 21+) was all included in the price of your ticket. If that’s not an incredible deal, I don’t know what is.​

Picture
Picture

The lineup featured a veritable rainbow of Texan talent; from soulful, sultry Madeline Edwards, the powerhouse vocals of Walk Talk to the upbeat and contagious energy of Sweet Crude, Shinyribs or Golden Dawn Arkestra. We got outrageous with Pinata Protest, danced into the wee hours of the morning with Pearl Earl and celebrated Sunday morning like no other with a Gospel Brunch on the lawn. Our chefs kept bellies happy with River Scramble brunches, BBQ feasts, taco night, Mediterranean dinners, and even some late night treats. There was yoga in the morning, Micheladas by noon, a river float parade (or just a good old-fashioned soak in the river “rapids”), more than enough time to relax in your hammock with a cold beer, and then an evening of dancing, entertainment (no mouse traps were harmed in the making), hula-hoops, fire-dancing and many a bare-foot-picnic-blanket-chill-zone. 

Picture
Picture

Reflecting back on the weekend, giving you a succinct list of festival highlights is next to impossible. From the incredible music, family feel and the beautiful river and campgrounds; there was hardly a moment that was less than perfect. Our central campground area was set up communally; some chose to bring everything and the kitchen sink along with their oversized RV, while many others (ourselves included) chose primitive camping along the river’s edge. It was clean, friendly and safe; nothing of the chaotic, dusty, dirty, drunken college-kid large-fest campgrounds I saw at bigger festivals this summer. KL Ranch Camp is absolutely immaculate and with a (relatively) small number of attendees, the entire venue truly felt like one giant, friendly, family camp out. Where my neighbor invites me over to try his secretly-sourced local craft beer just after we split queso and chips and argue over who’s going to grill for whom that lunchtime. Some brought their kids, who kept themselves busy on the river – playing just how kids should play, sans technology and screens. And at the end of a long, wonderful day of music, food, floating and friends, absolutely nothing can compare to that pleasantly tired, sun-toasted haze that takes over just as you climb into your tent. Where you drift off to sleep with the sound of the river bubbling nearby and the stars twinkling overhead.

​Reflecting back on the weekend, giving you a succinct list of festival highlights is next to impossible. From the incredible music, family feel and the beautiful river and campgrounds; there was hardly a moment that was less than perfect. Our central campground area was set up communally; some chose to bring everything and the kitchen sink along with their oversized RV, while many others (ourselves included) chose primitive camping along the river’s edge. It was clean, friendly and safe; nothing of the chaotic, dusty, dirty, drunken college-kid large-fest campgrounds I saw at bigger festivals this summer. KL Ranch Camp is absolutely immaculate and with a (relatively) small number of attendees, the entire venue truly felt like one giant, friendly, family camp out. Where my neighbor invites me over to try his secretly-sourced local craft beer just after we split queso and chips and argue over who’s going to grill for whom that lunchtime. Some brought their kids, who kept themselves busy on the river – playing just how kids should play, sans technology and screens. And at the end of a long, wonderful day of music, food, floating and friends, absolutely nothing can compare to that pleasantly tired, sun-toasted haze that takes over just as you climb into your tent. Where you drift off to sleep with the sound of the river bubbling nearby and the stars twinkling overhead.

I feel like I found a new family that weekend; a very big, mostly barefoot, sometimes silly, and definitely relaxed extended family. I am so grateful for the festival’s founders, the inimitable and ambitious Shaun Brennan and his team at Splice Records. And to the sponsors, volunteers, donors, artists and those who just brought an ice chest, a picnic blanket and vast quantities of welcoming friendliness (if that can be quantified; it was copious). I almost didn’t want to tell people about River Revival once I got back home, lest they find out about it and ruin the secret. So save me a ticket next year, Team RR; I’ll be back. And to the rest of you… don’t tell anyone else, but be sure to stay tuned for 2020 tickets and meet me on the Guadalupe river. I’m looking forward to River Revival 2020 already.

Picture

Visiting Del Mar for KAABOO 2019?

Check out these nine quirky and memorable places in the greater San Diego area while you’re in town for the festival this year

Next month, Team dRiFFt will be visiting Del Mar for a week to cover KAABOO Del Mar music festival. The fifth installation of their luxury beachfront festival, it’s a guaranteed ahhh-mazing weekend (“aaahh” as in “dang, I’m so relaxed right now”). It’s also a great reason to add a couple of days to your trip and really make a vacation out of it. The greater San Diego area is an incredible place to visit and home to many tried-and-true tourist destinations. But if you’re anything like us, you tend to shun the big-box tourist attractions in favor of something a little less plastic. Those lesser-known spots that are quirky, more authentically San Diego, and ultimately… a lot more fun. They’re the thing’s you’ll write home about (or, if you’re like us… write a blog about). Here are the nine San Diego secrets we’ll be checking out while we’re in town for KAABOO.

1) Hike the Secret Surf Trail at Black’s Beach to check out an incredible secluded surf spot and watch the hang-gliders soaring off the bluffs at Torrey Pines Gliderport. With a secret trail head tucked away on a quiet La Jolla residential street, this scenic and challenging trail takes you over questionable bridges, across incredibly scenic bluffs, down through a narrow sandstone ravine (can we say “Insta-worthy”?) and finally down to the local’s surf mecca, Black’s Beach. You can hang out and watch the gliders (or try hang-gliding yourself if you’re the adventurous type) and then head south down the beach toward Scripp’s Reserve and Sumner Canyon to take the slightly-less-taxing La Jolla Trail back to the top. If you have time, pack a picnic and spend some quality time on a less-touristy beach.

2) Like scary bridges? Check out the Spruce Street Suspension bridge for a super-instagrammable spot, a bit of an adrenaline rush  and a unique green forested ravine that’s actually not so far removed from civilization. While we’re at it, there’s also a musical bridge -slash art installation, the 25th Street Musical Bridge.  Created by artist Roman de Salvo, the bridge railings are actually a series of chromatic bells. So bring a pipe or stick, cross that bridge and make some music!

3) Don’t forget to see the Safari Park or the San Diego Zoo if you haven’t seen them before. Okay, so this one really isn’t a lesser-known attraction, but it’s still a must-see. If you’re like me, it’s a must-see-every-couple-of-years because as an animal and nature-lover, the San Diego Zoo Institution for Conservation Research has done this place justice, and by visiting, you’re supporting a very important international cause. There’s a reason this zoo has been voted #1 in the world – it’s beautiful, relaxing and a wonderful day trip. 

4) ​Dinner & Drinks in the Gaslamp Quarter. This may still be a slightly touristy option, but trust us, it’s worth it. There are too many amazing bar and restaurant options to even mention in one article. Our picks? Dinner: Biga. Think artisanal, hearty farm-to-table Italian; pizza, pasta and charcuterie. Brunch: The Morning After. Crafty, indulgent, delicious breakfast and lunch offerings and flights of mimosas or bloody marys. Bar: Noble Experiment. Just trust us. 

5) Swami’s State Beach –  grab a coffee to go from Philz or Surfdog’s Java Hut and head down for a morning of carefree tidepooling with your pup by your side. This laid-back dog-friendly beach is always at the top of our list for when a nature fix is needed. The tidepools are so impressive that it’s frequently a hangout for Biology students. You’ll find sea urchins, brittle stars and even the occasional octopus. Bring sturdy water shoes at low tide so you can (carefully) trek over the exposed tidepools and find flora and fauna galore. Check tides out on this handy site. Just don’t move, damage or otherwise harm anything in the tidepools, and as always – enjoy what nature has to offer and leave no trace. 

6) Lucha Libre Taco Shop. There’s taco shops and then there’s Lucha Libre. If you want a side of quirky with your carnitas, you’ve found it. There’s a gold “Champions Booth” offering full service with reservations and the place is chock-full of an incredible array of Mexican wrestling paraphernalia. You’ll leave with a happy belly, and we guarantee you won’t soon forget this taco stop.

7) Space Invaders Scavenger hunt. This is no joke! Spend a few hours in search of Space Invaders on a quirky modern-day Scavenger Hunt in downtown San Diego. What began as an exhibit from the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art in 2010 has become a modern-day scavenger hunt for 1980s gaming fans and treasure hunters. The “Viva la Revolucion: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape,” art exhibition incorporated the work of a number of street artists to place 21 character tiles “hidden in plain sight” in downtown spaces on sides of buildings. Can you find them all? Here’s a site that will give you some clues without giving it all away!

8) Spreckel’s Organ Pavilion – the most unlikely, unique thing you “just can’t NOT check out” on our list. This larger-than life, fully functioning outdoor organ is actually the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world, and it lives in a century-old pavilion in the middle of Balboa Park. The pipes range from 32 feet high to the size of a pencil, and you can actually catch a free Sunday concert by San Diego’s civic organist (who even knew that was a job?). Who doesn’t want to go home claiming they’ve see the world’s largest pipe organ?

9) Mission Bay and Fiesta Island Park. This is our favorite picnic pick, and it’s a neat spot – not for the nearby attractions (cough, Seaworld happens to be right across the way..) and crazy hotels, restaurants and beaches close by, but for a really chill, laid-back spot where you can take the dog or the family for a picnic near the water and catch people swimming with their horses. This is one of the few places you can still trailer horses in, so San Diego’s equestrians take full advantage of it. Take a beachfront stroll past the ponies, or you can even reach out to local trail riding companies and partake in a swim with the horses yourself!


We also asked Team KAABOO and their friends at the Del Mar Village Association for some recommendations and top picks.

Del Mar is the perfect place to enjoy before, during and after a local festival like Kaaboo with its amazing beaches, ocean views, along with its renown culinary and libation options.

  • Top Beach Spots in Del Mar: Seagrove and Powerhouse Beach. An easily walkable 2-mile beach divided by two parks – the northern half is easy to access, allows dogs at Dog Beach and offers “primo swimming.” The southern expanse is quieter, backed by bluffs and solitude. DMVA recommends: “Bring a blanket to sit on the grassy cliff-side, order a bite to eat “to-go” at many of the local Village restaurants and head over for an evening picnic” or stop at the waterfront patio and sunset drinks at Poseidon on the Beach
  • Coolest place to stay in Del Mar:
  • For an upscale experience: L’Auberge Del Mar offers an intimate resort experience reminiscent of a private seaside estate. Featuring 121 guest rooms & suites, refreshing dining options, a full service European-style 5,000-square-foot spa, a private path for easy beach access, tennis courts, a 24-hour fitness center and a peaceful pool area with leisure, lap, and whirlpools.
  • Or, live like a local at the Del Mar Bungalow luxuriously renovated and close to the beautiful sandy beach; entertain friends or just simply relax and enjoy drinks and a barbecue on the patio.

For more Del Mar accommodation ideas: https://visitdelmarvillage.com/stay/

  • Most Instagrammable spots: Sunset Seat The southernmost coastal point in Del Mar off highway 101 is one of the best spots to catch a sunset and check out the amazing art carved from a preserved Torrey Pine tree.

Best Cocktail Spot:

  • Jake’s Del Mar for an beach-appropriate Mai Tai on the sand in a tiki glass, what more could you really want? Happy Hour starts at 3pm. You’re welcome.
  • Bleu Bar at L’Auberge for a “Mango Me Crazy,” for incredible ocean views to complement that mango-jalapeno-infused treat
  • En Fuego Cantina & Grill – grab your friends and grab a Casa Amigos Cantarito – it’s a specialty drink served in a traditional clay cantarito. 
  • SHIMBASHI Izakaya. If you’re a fan of sake, this spot has several offerings that perfectly complement a spicy dish. And why not stick around for some sushi or seasonal tapas after that? With that view, you’ve got no reason to leave so quickly.

Best foodie Spot:

  • Beeside Balcony offers New American flavors with a unique fusion of Mediterranean and California cuisine to compliment your view of the golden sky and natural Torrey Pine trees.
  • At Il Fornaio, you can sit back with a glass of wine, authentic Italian dishes, and views of the ocean. 
  • Viewpoint Brewing Co. also provides beautiful sunset views over the San Dieguito Lagoon and Del Mar Racetrack with outdoor seating and lawn games.
  • The Brigantine Del Mar serves up locally world famous ranch and cheddar-topped fish tacos with Del Mar’s stunning views.
  • Coya Peruvian Secret. Known for their Peruvian family recipes and fresh local ingredients, there are menu options for everyone! Local Favorite: Baked Empanadas and Aji De Gallina. An authentic Peruvian dish with pulled chicken breast, and creamy aji sauce: walnuts, aji & Parmesan. 
  • Board & Brew, established in 1979, has been an icon and absolute favorite for locals and visitors alike for the perfect post-beach bite. Try the Local Favorite: Tom’s Choice. Freshly baked roast beef, turkey breast, cheddar cheese and sweet-sour dressing on a French baguette. Never forget the Secret Sauce.