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My ACL Experience

Chances are if you went to high school in Texas, you became well acquainted with ACL early on. For two weeks in early October, everyone’s feed suddenly becomes flooded with photos in front of colorful flags and in the middle of wild mosh pits. I remember being extremely jealous of everyone who went, stalking the lineup each year, and dropping hints to my parents that ACL tickets would make an excellent birthday gift. Finally, after five years of waiting for my chance, I attended ACL for the first time on Saturday of Weekend One, and this was my experience. 

Because I have absolutely zero chill, I extensively researched tips for ACL. I came prepared with my portable charger, my clear bag, my vaccination card, and my disposable water bottle. All of these things saved my life in various ways (except the portable charger, because in my rush to get a good spot for Girl in Red, I grabbed the wrong cord) because I was able to get through the line fairly quickly and I didn’t have to pay for water at the festival.

If you want to be at the barricade for any of the artists, I would recommend getting to the festival a couple of hours before the gates open. Because this was my first time, I decided to go a little later in the afternoon. Despite going at what was supposedly peak arrival times, the line wasn’t too long and I was able to get a very good view of Girl in Red at Lady Bird stage.

An important lesson I learned at ACL was that the stages are a lot farther apart than they may seem on the map. Because there were so many artists my friends and I wanted to see, we split our time between multiple artists and quickly got used to sprinting across Zilker. Halfway into Girl in Red’s performance, we ran to catch the end of Surfaces across the park. Even though I’m not familiar with Surfaces’ music, their songs were very catchy and their performance was great. My personal favorite part was the live saxophone performances. 

One of the best parts about ACL in my opinion is the food. I didn’t think I would eat at the festival because I assumed the prices would be inflated, but I was pleasantly surprised that the prices stayed fairly constant. I also figured out pretty quickly that standing in the sun for hours and running between stages results in low blood sugar levels. I had a graham cracker banana from Bananarchy which did the job perfectly. 

After a quick snack, I went camping out for the reason I came to ACL; Doja Cat. We were able to get fairly close to the stage and saw Phoebe Bridgers perform. As Doja Cat’s performance grew closer, the crowds started to get a lot bigger, until we could barely move. While it seemed a little scary and claustrophobic at first, once everyone started dancing to the music I forgot about the crowds. Doja Cat was hands down my favorite performance, and worth the wait. The energy of the crowd was amazing, and she truly looked like she was having fun on stage. 

After being transported to Planet Her for an amazing hour, we ran yet again across the park to catch Jack Harlow. The crowds for Jack Harlow were insanely huge, and even though I’m not the biggest Jack Harlow fan I really enjoyed his show. After he finished performing, we joined the mass exodus to Lady Bird Stage to see headliner Billie Eilish. 

I’d heard less than rave reviews about Billie Eilish’s previous ACL sets, but this one was really impressive. She tried to keep the audience engaged during her performance and acknowledged that everyone was exhausted from a long day. Hearing Happier than Ever performed live was an amazing experience, and really the perfect ending to a great day. 

After going to ACL, I finally understood the hype. Seeing six concerts in a single day in a beautiful location was definitely worth the money for the ticket, and I’m already excited about next year. Hope to see you there! 

Mia Abbe

Texas '24

Mia is from Fort Worth, Texas and a freshman studying political science at the University of Texas at Austin. She loves writing, music, and tv shows from the early 2000s.
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