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ACL Weekend 1: A First Timer’s Experience

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TAMU chapter.

As a first year attendee of Austin City Limits, I was nervous for what awaited me at Zilker Park for Weekend One. I’ve been wanting to attend ACL my entire college career, as big festivals like Rolling Loud and Coachella aren’t quite accessible to me on a college student’s budget! Even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of the lineup originally, I was still excited to experience my first music festival with my best friends at my side. So without further ado, let’s get into my breakdown of Friday and Saturday of Austin City Limits.

Friday afternoon, my group and I crammed into the back of our friend’s SUV to head to the cheapest parking garage we could find. Was it a mile away? Yes. However, $20 parking for a festival this big is a gift horse you can’t look in the mouth. After the mile walk, we entered the line to get in where I was greeted by a pile of throwup on the floor and a man walking his ferret around. What a beautiful hello from the city of Austin! Finally, we entered Zilker and immediately went to go fill up our empty water bottles at the hydration station. From there, we got super cute merch and headed to catch Omar Apollo’s set at the Miller Lite Stage. I only knew his song Evergreen but his performance had me downloading more of his songs onto my playlist later that night. His stage presence, friendly demeanor, and great voice all made for a great concert! Did I mention he’s also extremely good looking?

After that, we went to watch headliner SZA perform at the Honda Stage at 8:00 PM. She was incredible as expected. The crowd was extremely into her, singing all her songs and getting into their feels. Her stage design was beautiful and I want to note how caring she was for the crowd, stopping her show several times to make sure security helped people out in the crowd. 

Now let’s move on to Saturday.

With a much longer day ahead of us, we headed to Zilker at around 1:30 PM to try and get as close to Wallows as we could when they performed at the American Express stage. As the #1 stan of Braeden Lemasters and Wallows themselves, this was the show that I was looking forward to the most. We got extremely close to them and I think I can honestly say my soul left my body when they came out and began performing (especially when they did a cover of What Makes You Beautiful). They gave off incredible energy and a gave great performance as usual. If you haven’t seen them in concert before, I would highly recommend you to attend one. 

After their performance, we waited for an hour in our spot to see Lil Nas X perform. We were all packed in like sardines but thankfully I had enough room to sit on the grass and watch Hunter X Hunter on my phone before he came on. Now here’s where the worst part of ACL happened.

Lil Nas X had barely even been on for five minutes when high-schoolers all around us began pushing and shoving to form a mosh pit. Now, maybe I’m just too old for this type of thing now, but I was highly annoyed and a little scared. My shoe lace was untied too so one wrong move or shove and I would have faceplanted in the crowd. We were packed so tightly that there was no way for me to move further back. All of us were trying to hold onto each other for dear life to not get separated or shoved more. Besides this harrowing experience, Lil Nas X was an incredible performer, with multiple outfit changes and talented back-up dancers. His remix of Old Town Road with Pony by Ginuwine was off the charts!

After this, the group was tired. We looked like we had been dragged through hell and back which is honestly how I felt on the inside too. We went ahead and grabbed some food with my pick being overpriced truffle mac and cheese. We laid low and then decided to hang in the back to watch Pink! perform and she is an icon (also she is so beautiful! Does this woman even age?). She sang her top hits and did a cover of River by Bishop Briggs that was ICONIC! She also flew around trapeze-style which I’m sure everyone already saw on TikTok. It was a slay.

Unfortunately, this was my last day as I decided to forego Sunday to rest up and begin studying for my GRE. Overall, I will say I had a great time. What matters is that you’re safe and surrounded with people you love and the weekend will never not be fun! I’d definitely go again and recommend any first-time festival goers to let this be your introduction to music festivals.

Howdy! I'm Anyssa Perez, a senior marketing major from Houston, Texas! I love writing in my free time and am so excited to get to write as a part of HerCampus!