ACL: past and present

Callen Nutt, Staff Reporter

A sea of colorful tops, headbands and basketball jerseys, ACL is one of the biggest live music events in the world. Consistently for 17 years, Austin City Limits Festival has brought more partying, drinking, loud music and crazy fangirls than we thought Austin could handle until the fall of 2019 cutting ACL’s long streak short because of the covid-19 pandemic, so what’s the difference between 2019 and 2021 that brought the ACL back from the dead? 450,000 people attended this year’s festival compared to the previous year with over 75,000. Even with covid, only a whopping 4 covid cases were linked to this massive gathering of austinites and fans. High schoolers populate the vast majority of ACL guests each year, posting unfathomable amounts of pictures, videos and selfies with artists.

“ACL was amazing, the artists were great and I saw so many people from our high school, the atmosphere was amazing and the music was even better,” junior Reece Wunsch said. “I attended weekend 1, only Friday.”

A year-long gap to a festival as big as ACL would tend to be huge. More people are excited to get out, more vendors willing to make money off of tourists and others.

“It was more peaceful, and it was less crowded”, Wunsch said. “We had to wait 2 hours in a cramped line to get let in because everyone had to show vaccination cards and that just added so much more difficulty.”

For being the first time in 17 years that ACL and Austin, in general, has had to deal with a global pandemic the question of whether or not we handled it as efficiently as possible comes to light. 

“There were not many restrictions other than having to have a negative covid test or a proof of vaccination to get let into the festival”, Wunsch said. “have had many more metal detectors and people checking vaccination cards to speed the lineup. It was brutal.”

Despite being a hassle to get in and out of, ACL 2021 has arguably had one of the most exciting lineups, including Miley Cyrus, Doja Cat, Stevie Nicks and Dababy.

“Easily my favorite concert was George Strait, he played all of his best songs and the crowd was enormous, easily the biggest crowd I have seen at one concert in ACL”, Wunsch said.