ACL Weekend 1 brings energy and large crowds, despite inclement weather


Kara Hawley

A crowd gathers at Weekend 1 of the Austin City Limits Music Festival on Oct. 1.

Fiza Kuzhiyil, Life and Arts Editor

After the effects of Thursday night’s inclement weather, ACL Festival pushed the time for gates to open Friday from noon to 3 p.m. With almost a dozen acts cut on the first day of the festival and no signs of rescheduling yet, ACL 2021 started off rocky.

At 3 p.m., under newly clear skies, hundreds of people ran from the gates to stages across the park for prime spots on barricades for highly anticipated artists like Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Thee Stallion.

These remaining acts still successfully drew large crowds. So large, in fact, that lines to get in took some people over an hour as the crowd pushed forward or switched between the various lines and caused some confusion.

The festival kicked off at 3:15 p.m. with anticipated acts like Skip Marley and The Backseat Lovers, which drew crowds away from flags and photo attractions toward the stages.

By 4 p.m., most of the crowd gathered at Honda Stage for Machine Gun Kelly, who couldn’t be boxed in by the stage. He climbed up on the light fixtures to get a view of all of Zilker Park —who wouldn’t want this view of beautiful Austin, Texas?

Notably, Finneas debuted a brand new song on the VRBO Stage. Asserting his distaste for Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, Finneas talked about the SB 8 — the Texas abortion bill —and announced he will donate his festival paycheck to Planned Parenthood Texas.

At 6 p.m., basses boosted on both sides of the park as Megan Thee Stallion took the Honda Stage and Austin’s own Black Pumas took on the Ladybird Stage. Megan Thee Stallion brought Miley Cyrus on stage to dance with her, while across the park, the Black Pumas invited crowds of all ages to sing along to their soulful R&B music.

As the sun set on Zilker Park, thousands of fans ran to George Strait’s barricade, while hundreds of others set up lawn chairs and picnic blankets further away from Ladybird Stage to enjoy the country icon. Across the park at Honda Stage, thousands of fans sang along to pop icon Miley Cyrus, showing the diversity of genres at ACL.

After Cyrus strutted off the stage, thousands of people flocked to the exits, but with George Strait’s “All My Exes Live in Texas” playing across the park, some ran to catch the last 30 minutes of his set to end the night.

While it had a rocky start, Day 1 of the festival still proved that live music really is back. From Machine Gun Kelly climbing on his stage set to Finneas talking about hot-button politics, Day 1 showed the rich uniqueness of live music. Anything can happen at ACL.