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The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

OPINION: My Austin City Limits music festival opening day experience as a first-time attendee

Zemira Recio / Hilltop Views
Thousands gather at Zilker Park for the opening day of Austin City Limits.

The Austin City Limits music festival had its annual debut Oct. 6-8. This first weekend of the festival featured a wide variety of artists, including the Lumineers, Shania Twain, Foo Fighters, Kendrick Lamar and Labrinth.

This was my first time attending a music festival, let alone a huge one like ACL. I purchased a Friday pass instead of a weekend pass because I wanted to get a feel of what the festival would be like.

My group and I arrived at Zilker Park relatively early, around 1:30 p.m., so it wasn’t unbearably crowded at that time. 

To start off our day, we went over to Miller Lite stage to see the indie band The National Parks. Though the band had a short 45-minute set, they made it worthwhile. I enjoyed the chill and lighthearted atmosphere they created within the audience.

Throughout the day we explored the festival grounds, made stops at different stages to catch a glimpse of the different artists, stopped by the merchandise lines and got a bite to eat. One thing I want to note about ACL being hosted in Zilker Park was the abundance of land. It was a common occurrence for attendees to bring blankets and chairs to enjoy the music from a comfortable distance.

Each day of the festival had a set of specific headliners that would make an appearance. On Friday, the headliners were the Lumineers, Kali Uchis and Kendrick Lamar.

On Oct. 3, just three days before the festival began, Uchis announced that she had made the decision to drop out of the festival. Uchis was one of the major headliners, and I was deeply upset by the news because I was anticipating her performance.

The next day, Oct. 4, the official ACL Instagram account announced that they brought in the group Major Lazer to fill Uchis’ space on Friday. Though I was skeptical at first, they gave a great performance. They played familiar music and created a great environment where many danced. Despite having little time to prepare for their set, they delivered a spectacular set and I enjoyed every second of it.

After Major Lazer’s set, people began to flock over to the American Express stage to prepare to see Kendrick Lamar. I was already at the stage because Major Lazer had performed there prior to Lamar’s set, so all I had to do was push myself further up front to get a better view for Lamar’s show. I managed to wedge myself as close to the barricade as I could — nearly two hours before his set began. 

I had gotten there in advance because I knew it would be excruciatingly crowded, and sure enough, the crowd had multiplied exponentially. Up front, we were crushed on all sides.  People around me had started  to yell at others to let them move closer to the barricade, which was not possible considering the little room there was. 

It was a little irritating, but I had a good spot, and I knew that Lamar would start his set soon. However, about an hour before his set, we got word that his show was delayed due to flight issues.Everyone was distraught by the news, including me. I was tired from standing and the clustered crowd was getting to me, so I decided to step out of the crowd and see Lamar from a further distance.

An hour after his original set time, Kendrick Lamar took the stage at 9:45 p.m., performing an “abbreviated” set. Though the time slot wasn’t ideal, Lamar put on an amazing show. He sang hits back-to-back, old and new, from “King Kunta” to “Swimming Pools” to “Money Trees,” and we all enjoyed his set. I was just happy to see him perform.

There was a 10:30 p.m. curfew for the festival, meaning everyone needed to be out of Zilker before then; this threatened Lamar’s performance. At 10:15 p.m., the crew pulled the mic and cut off the sound while he was in the middle of performing “Alright.” The crowd did not respond well to this. Everyone started chanting “Kendrick” and demanded that he be allowed to finish his set, but after a few minutes, it was clear that the festival organizers weren’t going to let him continue. 

The set had a 30-minute run time, making it the shortest set by a headliner in ACL history. Despite the abrupt end to his set, Lamar gave an exquisite and lively performance.

Though my ACL experience had some setbacks and didn’t go exactly the way I anticipated, I still enjoyed the overall experience the festival provided. It was a great way to experience Austin through music, and I can’t wait to go back next October.

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About the Contributor
Zemira Recio, Staff Writer
Zemira is a freshman and this is her first year being a Staff Writer for Hilltop Views. She is a political science major and aspires to become a lawyer someday. When she's not writing or doing schoolwork, her favorite past times are reading and painting.

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