UT students reflect on attending both weekends of ACL

Ikram Mohamed, Life & Arts Senior Reporter

When Austin City Limits Music Festival’s tickets first went on sale in May, Dorian Villalba said she chose not to buy in because she thought the festival would get canceled. She never expected to attend, let alone find herself decked out in her best concert outfit, jamming through both weekends. 

“For the first weekend, I got invited by somebody who got (three free) tickets from their job,” the design freshman said. “The second weekend my friend was trying to get rid of some tickets, so she gave them to me.”

After ACL 2020’s cancelation last year, many eagerly returned to Zilker for the iconic two week-long Austin festival. While most chose to attend either weekend one or two, for some UT students, attending both weekends offered the opportunity to soak in all the long-lost ACL love. 

After seeing ACL get canceled last year due to the pandemic, Villalba said she felt nervous attending this year especially when Austin was still in stage four risk-based guidelines at the time of the festival. 

“I didn’t really know what to expect or how many people would be there,” Villalba said. “It made me nervous … (with) everyone really sweaty and close.”

While Villalba she said didn’t experience much close proximity or overcrowding during weekend one, the second weekend offered a completely different experience.

“I went with people who … wanted to be front and center,” Villalba said. “We stayed at one stage for the whole time. For (Tyler, The Creator) we ended up in four different mosh pits.”

Cagla Hoskara, a communication and leadership sophomore, said she attended both weekends of ACL for free as a volunteer. On opening day, after finishing her volunteer shift, Hoskara said she stood just behind the first barricade at Miley Cyrus’s performance. 

“I waited five hours,” Hoskara said. “I’ve wanted to see Miley since I was a child, so it was a little nostalgic (when) she sang old songs.” 

Hoskara said during weekend two she made up for the performances she wanted to see but missed during weekend one.  

“I saw Finneas and Dermot Kennedy (weekend two),” Hoskara said. “I was thankful I got to see them. They had such a good performance.”

Hoskara said while she enjoyed both weekends, the exhaustion caught up to her and she couldn’t finish off the second weekend with the same energy she started with. 

“On Saturday, I didn’t even stay for the closing act,” Hoskara said. “I was so tired and overwhelmed from the festival. I ended up canceling my Sunday shift.”

When Bleachers canceled their weekend one performance, communication and leadership sophomore Anna Kay Acquaro immediately decided to buy another ticket for weekend two. 

“I was like, ‘I don’t really care how much it costs, I’m just gonna do this,’” Acquaro said. “I wanted to do anything I could to see them, so I just kind of went for it.”

Acquaro said during weekend two, she stood for six hours at Ladybird stage waiting for Bleachers to perform. 

“We were center barricade,” Acquaro said. “I brought a sign (and the lead singer) recognized the sign and reposted it on his Instagram. It was an insane 15 hours.”

After four trips to ACL, Acquaro said she always looks forward to the October festival. After attending both weekends for the first time this year, she plans to do the same again next time.

“It made me emotional,” Acquaro said. “I really missed that. It feels really good … (now that) live music is back.”