Webb Report: Death, taxes and the inevitable ACL Fest lineup backlash

11:00 p.m Saturday, May 6, 2017 Music
Fyre Festival turned out to be less than Instagram-worthy. Jake Strang via AP

The 2017 Austin City Limits Music Festival lineup was released Thursday. It was a completely controversy-free event, followed by the kind of universally rapturous reception from fans and critics alike that we’ve come to expect fr… ha ha, no, haters immediately started dragging the lineup before the sun even came up.

“Lineup is terrible! Would not go to this fest for free,” wrote one Austin360 Facebook commenter shortly after the lineup dropped at 6 a.m. “Not one, but TWO weekends of this crap,” wrote another. “Some good acts but mostly let down,” wrote a more reasonable fair-weather fan, who at least had more to say than the people just leaving thumbs-down emojis.

Yes, people also responded on social media with the kind of excitement that the giant, park-bound party typically inspires. Some immediately put out calls for an ACL Fest buddy; many manifested their endorphin rush on Twitter over headliner Chance the Rapper. Things got a little more enthusiastic still once, later Thursday afternoon, organizers dropped a surprise announcement that Jay Z will also join the lineup. A sample tweet: “If I can’t go to see Jay Z I will cry in my room for the rest of my life.”

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, of course. As much as I like Brandon Flowers and his beautiful dinner-plate teeth, I think the Killers and their five notable songs are a strange top-row headliner. I also can’t wait to probably see Crystal Castles’ set self-immolate within 10 minutes. Immediate vitriol, though, has become a notable and reliable Austin time marker for any cultural event in our fair city. South by Southwest inspires just as much auto-hatred each year. Why bother taking the wind out of everyone else’s sails entirely? If our annual celebrations of live music are reviled by so many trolls, it makes one wonder what, exactly, they’re trying to protect from those loathed Californians.

It’s doubtful that ACL Fest — which brought $277.4 million into the Austin economy last year — gets its feelings too hurt by spoilsports with social media accounts. But from this sensitive music fan, a special missive to the people who always comment “Who are these people?” on any festival lineup: Those bands would say the same thing about you, keyboard jockey.

Also, like … go to a record store?

Springtime in Austin is fading quickly into summer, and with warmer weather comes the release of delicious, refreshing summer seasonal beers from local breweries. However, we noticed recently that a summer standby of the past several years is missing from grocery store shelves: Shiner’s previous summer seasonal, Prickly Pear.

Last month, Shiner unveiled its new summer seasonal: Strawberry Blonde. According to the brewery, it’s brewed with strawberries from Poteet.

The beer sounds delicious (and my colleagues on the web desk at the Statesman say it is). But in the comments on Shiner’s Instagram feed, you’ll see beer lovers lamenting the loss of Prickly Pear. Someone even said, “As long as we still get some prickly pear!” Shiner responded, writing, “Not this year, sorry,” and again later on, “We’re taking a break from Prickly Pear this year.”

We decided to get to the bottom of it. We reached out to McGarrah Jessee, a local advertising firm that represents Shiner, and a spokesperson for the brand explained: “Shiner Prickly Pear started out as one of our Brewer’s Pride selections. Those are limited-run beers that only come in our Family Reunion packaging and in bombers. It proved popular enough that we made it our summer seasonal. It’s been replaced in that role this summer by Shiner Strawberry Blonde. We do like to mix things up from time to time, to try out new styles and sometimes bring back old ones. At the same time, like all breweries that make multiple styles, we struggle with the problem of limited available shelf space. There simply isn’t enough room to stock every beer we’d like to make. And that can lead to hard decisions, like which of two very capable beers will take the seasonal slot.”

So, there you have it. No Prickly Pear this year. Before Prickly Pear, the Shiner summer seasonal was Ruby Redbird, which, let’s face it, is a pretty perfect summer beer. It’s sweet and tart and refreshing. Since the beer was so popular, the brewery decided to make the tangy brew available year-round. Here’s hoping Prickly Pear is next.

The good news? There’s a new fruity Brewer’s Pride selection coming soon from the Texas brand.

— Katey Psencik, American-Statesman staff

You might have already read enough about the luxurious failure that was Fyre Festival 2017 to have formed a relatively clear picture in your mind: big ticket prices for an island music festival backed by rapper Ja Rule, cheese sandwiches, portable toilets, stranded attendees, palpable disappointment.

But in case you were aching for one more account with a Lone Star twist: Dallas woman Kendall Angela recounted her less-than-high-end Fyre Festival experience to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and the details are just as cringe-inducing as the pictures you might have seen from the failed party.

According to Angela, who paid $1,000 for her Fyre ticket, festival-goers waited 10 hours to be bussed to the event’s location, where there was a mad rush for available tents.

“It was literally every man for himself,” Angela told the Star-Telegram. Those who weren’t quick enough to claim a tent slept on “wet mattresses on the beach,” and no lockers were provided in which to store belongings and valuables.

“I would say, yes, I felt like a prisoner there. It was scary. I tried not to think about it, but, yes, it was scary. There was no security and there were people getting sick and no medics available,” Angela told the Fort Worth newspaper, likening the experience to the dystopian “The Hunger Games” series.

The Star-Telegram reported that next year’s (yes, next year’s) Fyre Fest is expected to be held on a U.S. beach. Angela has confirmed that she will pass.

— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff

The richest county in the United States? It’s right here in Texas. But it’s not what you think.

Sure, Houston-area Montgomery County made the top 50 (just barely), but it’s little McMullen County — south of San Antonio, northwest of Corpus Christi — that leads the way, as reported recently by Bloomberg.

The numbers can be explained. McMullen County had a population of 707 in the 2010 census, making it Texas’ fifth least-populous county. McMullen County is also in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale. Using IRS data and measuring by average adjusted gross income per taxpayer return, McMullen is No. 1 in the nation at $303,717 per return.

The tiny Texas county is ahead of Wyoming’s Teton County (playground of the rich and famous) and New York County (Manhattan). Coming in at No. 4 is Glasscock County in West Texas — which is only different from McMullen in that it lies above the Wolfcamp Shale instead of the Eagle Ford.

The numbers are from 2015, the most recent available. If you’re curious, Georgia’s Clay County is at the bottom of the list with an AGI of $26,649 per return. Three Texas counties are in the bottom 50, all with AGIs in the low thirties: Starr, Willacy and Cottle.

IRS numbers show that McMullen County had an AGI of $25,028 20 years ago. It wasn’t until oil drilling in the Eagle Ford Shale really took off in 2009 and 2010 that the county’s wealth took a dramatic jump.

McMullen County is home to two towns: Tilden and Calliham. Tilden was once known as Dog Town and is home to Boot Hill Cemetery (which, admittedly, is not as famous as the Boot Hill Graveyard in Arizona).

Also notable: Austin native “Stone Cold” Steve Austin owns the nearby Broken Skull Ranch.

— Dave Thomas, American-Statesman staff

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