By Emilly Martinez
Thousands of people are recovering this week from another successful Austin City Limits three-day music festival.
The festival ran from Friday to Sunday and hosted more than 130 bands and 70,000 people.
Each day the gates to the festival opened at 11 a.m. with the Star Wars theme song to welcome the early birds.
Dedicated ACL fans arrived early to grab their favorite seats under trees or stake out a spot in front of the stage where their favorite band was scheduled to play.
Despite multiple CamelBak filling stations and locations to purchase bottled water, many people simply did not want to lose their spot in front of the stage.
On Sunday, Southwestern University junior Isabella Vargas said she waited at the Bud-Light stage for Fleet Foxes and Arcade Fire for more than 8 hours.
“We wouldn’t have made it if they didn’t give us water,” Vargas said of security officers handing out water to those calling out for it in the crowd. “I hadn’t heard anything like that before – people weren’t just asking for water, they needed it.”
Even with rain and highs only in the 90s, sunburns were abundant and heat exhaustion was prevalent.
At the Foster the People show Friday, four women were pulled out of the crowd due to heat exhaustion.
San Antonio junior, Sarah George was one of the women removed from the crowd and treated for heat exhaustion.
“I saw people getting pulled out of the audience but I didn’t think I’d need to be pulled out,” George said. “The next thing I knew I was over the fence and someone was handing me water.”
Although rain was absent Friday, a downpour came at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon at the start of Young the Giant on the AMD stage. The audience and band welcomed the rain, which continued through sunset.
Sunday was dry except for a few minutes after 5 p.m. During their performance Sunday night, headliner Arcade Fire’s front man, Win Butler, said he’d never been to a festival where everyone hoped for rain.
San Antonio junior Catherine Barnhill said the rain, though needed, was sometimes inconvenient.
“The rain made my veggie burger a little damp, but it was still five dollars well spent,” Barnhill said.
With more than 70,000 people spaced over 46 acres for more than 10 hours a day, food was something ACL administrators had to plan for.
Lined up against the perimeter of the park, 30 eating venues were present with cuisine ranging from organic vegetarian to the classic ACL meal, the Mighty Cone, a wrap-like dish served in a cone.
Other amenities included the air-conditioned Dell Lounge, American Airlines Bag & Chair check, air-conditioned Google+ Lounge, Hope Farmer’s Market, Rock Island Hideaway – a sand-filled, covered relaxation area – and many mist-fans.
In between shows, attendees could go browse the art market or stop by the Waterloo Records tent to buy merchandise and get autographs from scheduled bands.
Although there were many activity options, most preferred to go discover music and enjoy their surroundings.
“I saw Ray LaMontagne, Cold War Kids, Bright Eyes and Coldplay,” Dallas junior Byron Griffin said. “Bright Eyes was amazing because they played all of their classics, and Coldplay was just huge and full of their usual energy. It was nearly surreal seeing them both live for the first time. It was also super fun to watch in-between shows, since there were so many eccentric people at the festival.”
Friday night saw both Kanye West and Coldplay headline, set only 20 minutes off from each other, sparking a debate as to who had the biggest crowd. While some said Kanye had the bigger audience, others said people left the Coldplay show, which started earlier, to catch the end of Kanye’s set, creating the illusion of a larger audience.
“Kanye is the first hip-hop artist to headline ACL,” George said. “So people probably left Coldplay to go see some of Kanye – but I think just as many people went to see Coldplay as Kanye.”
My Morning Jacket and Stevie Wonder headlined Saturday, but there was no debate that Stevie Wonder had the larger audience.
“It’s Stevie Wonder – everyone wants to see Stevie Wonder,” George said. “My Morning Jacket got screwed over on that one.”
Arcade Fire closed the festival Sunday, playing for an hour and a half. Those in the front row got an extra surprise as Jack Black showed up to enjoy the show. Christian Bale also was spotted throughout the weekend at various shows like Fitz and the Tantrums and Fleet Foxes; he was rumored to be doing research for a new role in which he plays a folk artist.
Overall, the festival was enjoyed by those in attendance and went as expected.
“I heard this year was awesome. Even if the ticket costs are high, it’s still worth seeing all the bands that are there,” Round Rock sophomore Cimarron Parker, who was not able to attend the festival, said. “I’m excited to see next year’s line-up.”
Early Bird tickets for 2012 Austin City Limits go on sale soon to those on the ACL list.
“ACL is always my favorite weekend of the year and I’m already looking up tickets for next year,” Barnhill said.