ACL Weekend One: That Good Ole College Try

Photo credit: Sarah Scales

By Sarah Scales, Web & Social Media Editor

Call me a diva, but if I’m going to fork out a couple hundred dollars to see a live performance, there better be a guaranteed, designated, good seat in the arena (preferably air-conditioned). But at a festival, that’s just not the case — so I’ve steered clear. In the past, I have wanted to go to Austin City Limits, but the logistics of travel and the price of tickets always seemed to outweigh the benefits.

Then I saw the set list, and I couldn’t resist: Drake, The Weeknd, Vance Joy, Walk The Moon, G-Eazy, Foo Fighters, The Strokes. I bought a ticket for weekend one. After class on Friday, my friend and I headed south in my navy convertible blasting our ACL playlist. “I could go at least one time to see what it was like,” I thought.

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Zilker Park is the venue for ACL every year. Photo credit: Sarah Scales

Day One

Day one was the most underwhelming in comparison to the line-ups for the other two days, but part of the problem was our arrival time. By the time we made it through the traffic, we got to the first day of ACL pretty late. We caught the last few moments of George Ezra’s set when he sang both “Barcelona” and “Budapest.” Then, we saw Disclosure, a UK group made famous by their song, “Latch” which features Sam Smith for the vocals. They did some singing as well, but for songs that required the voice of another artist, they acted as the DJ. Their set was one of the most light-driven shows, and I found the silhouettes on the screens to be particularly entertaining to watch. I found it to be more of a warm-up for the rest of the weekend.

G-Eazy signing autographs before his performance at ACL. Photo credit: Sarah Scales

Day Two

The second day we made it to the last couple of songs of Echosmith. During their hit, “Cool Kids” the female singer gave a positive message asking the audience to be true to their self and stand out, despite the song expressing the desire to fit in. It was one of the few glimmers of a positive message that I witnessed over the course of the weekend. After, we went to Waterloo Records’ meet-and-greet station and met G-Eazy, someone I’ve been a fan of for a couple years. The line of predominantly young women seemed to be feeding off of each other’s excitement so by the time we made it inside, everyone was squealing at the slightest glimpse of him. After meeting the rapper, I went and watched his performance while fairly close to the stage. His set was fast-paced, covering many of his songs in only about a minute-and-a-half of each. I liked that he had a couple other singers come out to sing the hooks of some of his songs, and he seemed to get the most bang out of his lower-budget performance.

My friend and I left early to make our way across the park to watch A$AP Rocky in hopes of getting a good spot for when Drake took the stage. A$AP was the only artist I saw that came down the aisle during his set, and it was to give someone in the crowd a milkshake. Drake’s performance was the most engaging, having the crowd sing certain parts. Overall it was very dynamic. He had some softer moments with songs like “Hold On We’re Going Home” and “Hotline Bling” before picking up the pace with “Headlines.” The climax came when Future came out as a surprise artist to perform a couple of songs off of their brand new album, including the recently popular, “Jumpman.” When the fireworks signaled the end of his set, the crowd erupted in applause.

Day Three

We started off the day at the stages of lesser-known artists. First, we went to Daughter and saw her guitarist use a violin’s bow to create a more screeching sound. Then my friend and I enjoyed listening to BØRNS’ “Electric Love.” I was super impressed with his vocal range and enjoyed talking to him after his performance. Afterwards, we went and watched the first half of Vance Joy’s set, including his song, “Mess Is Mine,” but missed out on “Georgia” and “Riptide.” After eating dinner, we watched Alt-J and anxiously waited for The Weeknd to come on — he did not disappoint. After hearing Drake’s half of “Crew Love” the night before, it was fun to hear The Weeknd’s half the very next day. He changed the word “Often” to “Austin” at the end of the song, and the crowd loved it. He didn’t shy away from pyrotechnics, with fireworks sprinkled throughout the performance and flames during “The Hills.” Afterwards, I still had just enough time to catch the very end of The Strokes performance.

In a nutshell

Drake and The Weeknd were the most entertaining to watch, BØRNS has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard and fireworks always make everything better. On the drive back to Waco with a paper due the next day, a sunburn beginning to appear, a dead cell phone and a pair of legs more sore than after a five-mile run, I find myself wondering why I
didn’t go to ACL sooner.