A Weekend at ACL

Every year, Zilker Park in Austin, Texas opens its gates to one of the most exciting events of the year: Austin City Limits Music Festival. This festival showcases many talented artists, famous and underground, lasting for two weekends in a row. The headliners included big names like Paul McCartney, Travis Scott, the Arctic Monkeys, and Odesza. Along with the musical entertainment, there are opportunities to explore various specialty food places that set up booths, see and purchase local art, learn about many different non-profit organizations, and participate in community service activities sponsored by different companies and organizations.

I had the opportunity to go to this festival for Weekend 2. I was nervous because it was my first festival, and my idea of music festivals was filled with stories from my friends about the crazy things they did at Electric Forest or Bonnaroo. ACL was different than I expected. Despite the number of things going on all at once, the vibe was very relaxed, and there were places you could go away from all the noise. At one point when I was exhausted from the heat my boyfriend and I found a shady spot to lay out a blanket so we could relax for a few minutes, and I ended up taking a nap to recharge for the next show we wanted to see.

The shows were amazing. Luckily for me, my favorite artist was there - Father John Misty. He played on a smaller stage, which meant I was able to get fairly close to the front. He played all my favorite songs, and I got to sing along with him and a whole crowd of people. It was beautiful. He even jumped into the crowd, and I was only a couple feet away from him. The other artists that played at the festival were amazing as well, and I got to hear several artists for the first time. My favorite sets were Vince Staples, Bahamas, St. Vincent, and the Arctic Monkeys. The Arctic Monkeys closed the festival on the last night and shook the whole park with their rock and roll sound.

Another fun part of ACL is “ACL Eats.” Dozens of local restaurants and food trucks partner with ACL and set up booths where you can try their food. They showcase a wide variety of foods, including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Personally, I think the thing I enjoyed the most was the booth by Burro Grilled Cheese. It was the best-grilled cheese I had ever had in my life - made on King’s Hawaiian bread, with cheddar and jack cheese. I literally cried because it was so delicious.

While the shows and the food were amazing, I think my favorite part of the festival was the community service activities. I might just be a softy, but it was really cool to see the volunteer opportunities they presented you with at this festival. There were several little trailers sponsored by State Farm where they showed you how to look for community service activities online and then gave you little activities to do community service at the festival. I got to build a ukulele to donate to music education programs in the city of Austin and write letters to at-risk youth in situations like homelessness. Another thing you could do was pick up trash and recycling for the festival, and in return, you got a free t-shirt. It felt good to be giving back, especially while I was having all of the fun that I was. It reminded me that there are people who don’t have the same opportunities as I do, and I should always remember to help those people in any way I can.

 

All in all, ACL was probably one of the best experiences I’ve had in a long time. It was a good way to get away from the stress of life and enjoy just being alive, and it brought me a lot of much-needed positivity. I highly recommend going and checking it out, you won’t regret it.