Prefer to watch my Austin City Limits experience rather than read about it? Check out the video below!
I may have mentioned a time or two that I was excited about Austin City Limits, and even after experiencing a full day of incredible talent, it still feels like a dream. After a late night out on Sixth Street seeing one of the official ACL Late Night Shows, my sister, Breanna, and I were exhausted. We had way too much fun seeing Hippie Sabotage and Cherub at the Vulcan Gas Company, and we didn’t make it to bed until about 3:30 am.
We opted to take the ACL shuttle to Zilker Park since they don’t have any kind of official parking for ACL. We got to the park around 10:45-11 am, and it wasn’t crazy crowded yet, so we were able to get in line to take a picture in the ACL Fest block without having to wait forever.
The first performance we saw was Marian Hill. They are actually the reason we went to ACL in the first place and the group I was most excited to see. Since we were there so early, we got pretty close to the stage. I was surrounded by many people who hadn’t even heard of Marian Hill, and by the end of the show, they were all fans. They opened with “One Time,” which is the first song I ever heard by them, and they followed up with “Wasted,” which is another favorite of mine. They played all of the songs on the Sway EP, plus a few songs that will be on their new album.
Samantha is probably the most adorable human to have ever existed. She’s literally flawless, and I wanted her outfit. Jeremy was going crazy on his deck, and the sax player/bassist was so awesome. When he came out playing the saxophone for “One Time,” the crowd went nuts. When their set was over, they made a last-minute decision to play one more song called “Wild.” Now I’m impatiently waiting for their album to come out so I can listen to it on repeat. #obsessed
Next, we saw Daughter. I only knew one song by them, “Youth,” and I’m happy I was able to hear it live. I enjoyed hearing a few of their other songs as well.
After Daughter, we walked over to another stage to see BØRNS. Admittedly, the only song I had heard by BØRNS was “Electric Love,” and I jammed way too hard when Garrett performed it. I loved hearing other songs by him too, and I’ve already started listening to his Dopamine album.
By the time BØRNS was finished performing, it was about 3:30 in the afternoon. Sister and I had gone back and forth to get a few drinks (I had this amazing watermelon agua fresca, which was just watermelon-infused water) and had a few things to eat in between performances. The sun had been beaming all day. We caught a few songs by Halsey, who sister wanted to see. I had never heard of them, but ever since I heard them live, I’ve been listening to “Hold Me Down” nonstop.
After resting a little bit in some shade, we made our way to the stage to see The Decemberists. We sat down on a patch of grass, and the next thing I know, I’m waking up. Their music was so pretty and too chill, and I let myself drift off. I was super exhausted from the day already, but a mini power nap was exactly what I needed. I’m glad I was able to catch a few songs by The Decemberists before I fell asleep though.
Before their performance was over, Bre woke me up from my nap, and we went to get some more refreshing drinks and escape to the shade for a little while. Then we made our way to another stage to see Chance the Rapper. I jammed so hard when he sang “Cocoa Butter Kisses.” There were so many Chance fans in the crowd, and everyone was singing along to many of his songs. This was the last full performance that we were able to see, because after Chance, all of the people we wanted to see were playing at the same time.
At 6:30 pm, both Alt-J and Of Monsters and Men were performing. We went to see Alt-J first. Sadly, I didn’t recognize any of the songs Alt-J performed, but I still enjoyed every second. I was hoping to hear “Breezeblocks,” but we had to make our way over to another stage to catch Of Monsters and Men.
Of Monsters and Men were incredible as well. When they played “Little Talks,” naturally I went a little nuts.
Next, we made our way over to see Hozier. We were able to catch them play a few songs, including “Arsonist’s Lullaby.” I was pumped I was able to see them play it live! Their stage setup was so neat, and I wish I could have gotten better pictures with their name lit up in the background.
We struggled to make our way through the Hozier crowd during the middle of their performance. It was getting dark, and people were everywhere at this point. Lots of people were sitting on the ground in the middle of crowds and almost got stepped on. While we were walking across the park to see Nero, we heard a little bit of Dwight Yoakam play. I had never listened to him before, but I recognized the country twang.
As soon as we got to Nero, my adrenaline started pumping. Even though Marian Hill was my favorite group to see live, Nero definitely gave the best performance. The crowd was intoxicated by them, and I was excited to be right in the middle of it. I danced more at Nero than I did at other performances because the music just enveloped me and the rest of the crowd. When they performed “Promises,” I lost it. I’m officially making it my mission to see them again live.
It almost felt like the amount of people at ACL tripled, and everyone was at the stage to see The Weeknd. Bre and I were walking into the crowd to get closer to the stage, but then people started getting rough, and we decided to just make our way to the outskirts of the crowd to enjoy The Weeknd from there. The Weeknd was the only performer that I didn’t actually get to see in person. I only saw him on the screen next to the stage. Nonetheless, I still went crazy dancing in the crowd. He performed “Often,” which I’ve been playing on repeat lately. He also covered Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” and Ariana Grande’s “Love Me Harder.” Sadly, we had to leave before we could hear “The Hills.” He did have some fireworks go off during one of his songs though, which was pretty awesome.
The last performance we saw was Florence and the Machine. This is who sister was most looking forward to seeing. They definitely didn’t disappoint. They were incredible live. There were also these two girls standing in front of us, and they asked if we wanted to stand in front of them because we were shorter than them. So sweet. Florence’s outfit kind of reminded me of The Brady Bunch. She was so cute, but also crazy! She was running all over the place, and during her last song before the encore, she took her shirt off and ran around in her bra. When she came out for the encore, she went into the crowd and made out with a rando. It was very entertaining and a perfect way to end the festival.
I felt so euphoric after ACL, and I didn’t want it to end, even though I was unbelievably exhausted. Most of the people we talked to were so nice, but there were also a few rude people, mostly found in the crowd for The Weeknd, but also these two girls who we asked to take our picture. After everyone was leaving, we walked past the entrance, and everyone was stopping to take photos. These two girls had asked someone to take their photo, and after they were done, I asked them to take ours. They literally looked at me and looked away. #pissed
Thankfully, these other people saw the exchange and offered to take our picture, and then we turned around and took theirs.
Austin is my favorite city in Texas because incredible things always happen to me there. I can’t wait to go back and visit and hopefully I’ll get to attend Austin City Limits again. This was the perfect first music festival, and I’m excited to go to more!
Have you ever been to a music festival? What artist would you love to see perform live?