It was Saturday night and ACL (Austin City Limits) was in full swing. People from all over the world flooded Austin for a giant music festival. 2 weekends, 8 stages, and 130 bands: that’s what makes up this music extravaganza. Out of all these bands and artists there was really only one person I mainly wanted to see, and that person was Eminem.
Why I Love Eminem
I first fell in love with his music back in elementary school when I had to hide his CD from my parents because he swore in his songs. Not only that but he talked about the most screwed up perverted, demented, and offensive things, especially for the time period. But as a young naïve boy I had no idea as to what he was talking about. All I knew is that it I liked the way he talked really fast and I thought he was “cool” for swearing in his songs.
Nonetheless, as I got older and as Eminem produced more CD’s I still, to this day, love his music and always will. Not for thinking he’s cool for swearing but for the meaning behind his music as well as his unique flow.
Also, as I got older and I began to understand what he was actually talking about in his songs and I quickly realized why no parent would ever let their kids listen to his music. GOOD GOD is he offensive. Degrading women, offending the gay community, as well as talking about his heavy use of pills and other drugs made him stand out in the rap community as one of the most controversial rappers of his time. Consequently, this put the spotlight on him and his records started flying off the shelves. But, despite his songs that create controversy, was real and genuine. He wrote songs about his life and his thoughts and didn’t care what anybody thought, which is why I enjoy and respect him so much.
Back to ACL
As he got more and more famous it, of course, drove ticket prices through the roof. It almost got to the point that I began to accept the fact that I would probably never see him without taking out a loan to purchase a ticket.
But, that’s when ACL came to town. Since I was the new guy at work I knew I wouldn’t have enough seniority to schedule any days off so I didn’t even think about purchasing a ticket.
At work on Saturday, the night of Eminem’s, show I was casually talking with my co-worker Shane about how much I wanted to see Eminem and half joking brought up the idea of trying to sneak in. We both got off at 8:30 and Eminem would be playing from 8:30 until 10:00 so we figured it would be worth a shot. The worst that could happen is they would tell us to leave. We rode our bikes down to the festival conveniently located only about a mile away from work.
As we approached the gate we noticed tons of people walking out and decided we would try our chances on getting someone’s wrist band that was leaving for the day. We approached an older couple walking out, each wearing one day passes on their wrists. They were confused as to why we wanted to get in since the festival was pretty much over for the day but still more than willing to hand them over. Shane handed them 20 bucks as a thank you for their bands. We locked up our bikes in the massive cluster of bike racks and sprinted to gate to see the best rapper alive.
As we approached the gate we were immediately stopped by security. We both took off our backpacks assuming they wanted to check our bags before we entered. The security guard was an extremely buff bald man wearing a polo two sizes too small to accentuate his muscles that were trying to climb out of the cotton prison that was his shirt. He asked to see our wrist bands then grabbed my hand twisting it back and forth while shining a flash light on it looking for tears. “Are these yours?” he asked.
“Yes.” We replied, obviously lying. Not thinking they would check so thoroughly we carelessly slapped the bands back on obviously showing that they had previously been torn.
“Yeah, that’s bull shit. Fucking scalpers have been scamming people all night.” He said. “Sorry you got scammed guys,” as he ripped the bands off our wrists.
Shit! I guess this wasn’t going to work. We were so close! We continued walking around the fenced off festival trying to think of a way to get in. About every thousand feet we would pass someone wearing a reflective vest directing traffic. We stopped to ask one of them if they would say anything if we tried to hop the fence. It was an older Hispanic woman who replied, “I don’t care. Be my guest.”
It was a very tempting offer, “well what’s on the other side?” Shane asked.
“APD.” (Austin Police Department)
Okay, yeah, screw that. I want to see Eminem but not badly enough to risk going to jail for.
We kept walking until we got on the entire other side of the festival limits and noticed another gate. We figured we would try our luck again. This time when we found a couple we cut the bands off them with a knife from the opposite side of the sealed barcode then tapped them to our writs from the back to avoid any suspicious tear marks from security.
This time instead of sprinting to the gate like a couple of middle school girls racing into a Justin Bieber concert we walked nonchalantly like a couple of bros who owned the place.
We walked up to a couple heavy set security guards standing around talking. Showed them our wrist bands, which they casually glanced at, then checked our bags. Yes! We were in! Or so I thought…we then had to pass through the next gate to scan our bands. They both came up red. Shit! A stern woman directed us to the ticket check in booth then to come back. We walked over, pretended like were standing in line then made our way back, this time scanning our bands at a different employee’s gate. A college aged looking kid, starring off into space without a care in the world; probably just doing this job as a weekend gig for some extra cash. We scanned our bands again, and again they came up red. “Just go,” he said under his breath.
“Thanks bro.” Yes! Finally! We were in. We sprinted through the crowds of people passing numerous stages, trying to find Eminem. After asking a few random people for directions we finally made it! He had just begun his set. Being the two thin guys that we are we managed to slide our way through the crowd, however, due to the density we couldn’t get too close but still managed to get a good angle.
And it was amazing! He played a good mixture of old and new songs and brought a mass amount of energy to the stage. It is truly amazing that even after all these years of performing he can still put his heart and soul into every show. Shane and I were jumping around and singing our hearts out like a couple of middle school girls watching Justin Bieber.
Throughout his performance it felt like a dream. I remembered back to sitting on the school bus sharing headphones with my neighbor listening to the explicit version of Eminem’s album “The Marshal Mather’s LP” watching the white disk with a backwards E spin around rapidly trying to hold the Walkman in such a way that it wouldn’t skip every time the bus hit a bump. Back then I never would have thought that someday I would be watching this man perform the same songs right before my eyes.
It was everything I hoped it would be and more. Not only was his stage energy through the roof but the stage itself was spectacular. Giant screens stood on either side and after some of his bigger songs fireworks shot off from behind.
He finished his set with the song “Lose Yourself” which talks about chasing your dreams and relating to his personal story that it doesn’t matter if you come from absolutely nothing if you truly put your mind to something and completely immerse yourself in your passion you are capable of anything. Which, Eminem taught us, is completely true.