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Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

OPINION: My weekend two ACL music festival experience

Courtesy of Ralph Arvesen
Fans at the barricade of the Honda Stage at ACL on Oct. 14. Many of these fans were waiting all day just to get that barricade spot.

Austin City Limits music festival was an absolute blast this year, as always. This was my third time going to the festival and it was one of the better weekends I’ve attended compared to the past. 

On the Friday of weekend two I had a late start which meant I got to the festival in the late afternoon, just in time to see Maggie Rogers go on at 6:10 p.m.

Rogers’ set was amazing. She took the stage wearing a black bodysuit and sheer skirt singing the first track on her latest album “Overdrive.” Rogers knows how to captivate a crowd with her voice. Her set consisted of some songs from the new record and some older bangers, like a new arrangement of “Alaska” and “Light On.”

My group and I decided to grab a bite to eat after her set ended. We saw someone with a hotdog earlier in the day as we were coming into the festival and had been craving one since. While paying almost $13 for a plain hotdog is frustrating, it was worth it. The relish was amazing and the soft bun did not disappoint. 

My group and I split up after our snack, and I ventured over to the American Express stage to see Kendrick Lamar. While waiting in the crowd for Lamar to come on stage, there was a drone show sponsored by C3 Presents, Drone Stories and Kargo. ACL usually hosts a firework display, but due to recent drought and potential fire hazards they chose to do the drone show instead. The drone show started off strong with 3D figures but then became repetitive and ended with a display of the name of the event.  

After the drone show, Lamar stepped onto the stage with dancers all dressed in white clothing and blue aprons reminiscent of  extras from “The Bear.” All of the dancers were put in prosthetics to look like Lamar. His set was underwhelming for me, but to a bigger fan, his set was a knock out of the park. 

“Kendrick’s set was amazing. There was so much energy from not only him but the crowd as well, especially during ‘DNA’ and ‘Alright,’ two of my favorite Kendrick songs. The only thing I feel was missing was a guest appearance from Baby Keem,” said John Nolte.

Fans view the eclipse through protective eyewear at Zilker Park during ACL on Oct. 14. (Courtesy of Ralph Arvesen)

On Saturday morning, I woke up bright and early to try and get to the barricade at the Honda Stage. The 1975, Rina Sawayama and 30 Seconds to Mars were all playing that stage and I, of course, wanted a front-row seat. Staying at one stage all day also gave me a chance to familiarize myself with new artists.  

Before any artists came on stage, there was another star stealing the show: the sun. The solar eclipse began around 11 a.m. at Zilker Park, causing the area to get a little darker and a bit chilly as the moon made its way across the sun’s path. 

Rina Sawayama performed at 4 p.m. in the heat of the day. I was really looking forward to her set because I’ve been a fan of her for a few years now. She excited the crowd with numerous  outfit changes and the narrative theme of the show. 

30 Seconds To Mars began their show with a bang. Lead singer, Jared Leto — yes, that Jared Leto — jumped from a platform on the top of the stage after performing their song “Walk On Water.” 

The band’s performance was interesting, to say the least. The photo pit was open the entire time and photographers were even invited on stage as well. Leto had at least three people following him around the stage with iPhones to get content for the band’s social media. The whole show felt very artificial — like they were only performing for a TikTok.

Jared Leto, lead singer of 30 Seconds To Mars, jumps up on the barricade at ACL on Oct. 14. (Courtesy of Ralph Arvesen)

The bad taste in my mouth was quickly forgotten, though, when The 1975 took the stage. Opening with “Looking for Somebody (to Love),” the band blew fans away, myself included. They continued their set with all of their classics: “Robbers,” “Somebody Else” and “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You),” to list a few. 

Sunday was a very laid-back day for me and my group. Because of this, I chose to participate in the Rock and Recycle program. Festival goers are given a chance to earn a free shirt if they are able to collect a bag full of aluminum cans and plastic bottles. This was a great way to help clean up the park and score some exclusive ACL merch. 

My group and I were able to move around the festival and jump between different stages. First, we saw Del Water Gap at the T-Mobile Stage, who ended his set by climbing up the stage and waving from the rafters.

The American Express stage was taken over by the Irish. Niall Horan and Hozier performed at the stage, engaging loyal fans with their music. Horan sang One Direction’s “Story of My Life” and Directioners in the crowd screamed along with the words. 

During Hozier, my group decided to sit on the grass and enjoy the music from the back of the crowd. I was able to collect a ton of cans while we sat with other people propped up in lawn chairs. Watching the sunset over the stage was gorgeous. The sky faded into pink and orange while Hozier played us into the night. 

We watched a bit of Labrinth’s set at the T-Mobile Stage and then made our way to Mumford and Sons at the American Express Stage. My group decided to just stay for two songs before  heading out. We closed the night with a large P-Terry’s dinner and a debrief of the entire weekend. 

ACL is an experience and I’m always sad to see it go. But don’t worry…it’ll be back next October to bring you even more music, food and fun.

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About the Contributor
Emma Sutton
Emma Sutton, Staff Writer
Emma Sutton is a junior a majoring in writing and rhetoric with a concentration in journalism and digital media. It is her second semester writing for Hilltop Views and first semester as a staff writer. She loves writing about all things pop culture but also has a soft spot for baseball.

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