My first ACL Music Festival experience was back in 2009 with Pearl Jam headlining on the final night. It was a liberating experience that I loved and won't forget. Until then, I was very uncomfortable in crowded places. I would feel panic, stress, and anxiety due to lack of control and being at the mercy of the 'masses'. It had rained the previous day and there was mud everywhere. My brothers and I eagerly awaited the Pearl Jam show by finding room to stand near the stage a couple hours before they were scheduled to perform. Sitting room, quickly turned into standing room, which even more quickly became a back to back cluster of human beings as the opening band warmed up the crowd. I was starting to feel the pressure of being land locked by a 'sea of people' within an hour before PJ took the stage. When they finally opened, something exciting occurred in me where I simply forgot the anxiety and started to rock out. I had learned the secret of disarming my fear by learning to breath and relax, go with the flow, and dance!
5yrs later, I got to live in the city where I conquered my fear and witness the magic that is a Pearl Jam show once again as they headlined at ACL 2014.
This time; however, I was prepared with what to expect and was even able to assist in calming others around me when tensions hit a fever pitch. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this city and the music that it inspires.