Austin City Limits Music Festival weekend one came to a close Oct. 8 night after three days of live music, silent discos, local eats and organizations fighting for their causes.
ACL took over Zilker Park for its first weekend of its 16th year while continuing traditions such as ACL Eats and ACL Cares.
Weekend one began on Oct. 6 and grew larger each day. The festival had a variety of features for all guests including increased security, a three-DJ silent disco filled each night and a new and improved Rock and Recycle program.
Fresh in the minds of fans and ACL security, the Las Vegas massacre had its effects on the festival.
Logan Cassidy, local tech employee living in Austin after a move from Ohio, brought with him a statement on his first visit to ACL. Cassidy received a text message from his mother the day after 58 people were shot at a music festival in Las Vegas. Cassidy’s mom told him she did not want him to use his 3-day weekend pass as she feared for his safety.
Rather than sell his wristband or get a refund, Cassidy constructed a large black and white sign reading “End mass shootings. We’re not afraid of you.” Cassidy carried his sign in one hand and an equally sizable American flag in the other.
“It’s not about gun control at all,” Cassidy said. “This is not a political statement. This is just a tribute to those who were impacted by it, and a statement to say that we can’t live in fear.”
ACL had $9 beers, carafes of wine, with cans and bottle of water. For sober musicians and attendees, a tent full of friendly faces, shaded seats, cool fans and sweet candy awaited their company. The concept is called Sober Park, and is run and funded by musicians and Harmonium Inc. Sober Park returned to ACL new and improved with two meetings a day and a fully-stocked tent all day, every day.
Karma Stewart is a musician funded by the Sims Foundation. Stewart is 105 days sober as of Oct. 8 and said she enjoys playing her music and traveling as an alcohol-free artist. Stewart ran the tent and the two meetings each day of the festival.
“I made the choice that I wanted my life at the end of the day,” Stewart said. “We’re trying to create awareness and that there are places they can come and still be sober.”
There were tributes to the Las Vegas shooting incident, the death of Tom Petty and the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
Spoon, Tove Lo, The Killers, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and others all paid tribute to the death of former ACL performer Tom Petty. From tribute songs to a skydiving show during Tove Lo and Spoon’s, the Free Falling artist was not forgotten at this year’s shows.
One of the most popular features of ACL this year was The Austin Parks Foundation partnership with the Rock and Recycle program to expand the project’s impact. Since 2005, Rock and Recycle allowed festival attendees to fill green recycling bags with cans and bottles in exchange for a free T-shirt of their choice.
This year, for every participant, APF allocated $5 to the Recycling in Parks initiative making recycling waste in city parks easier. APF is also the beneficiary of ACL, so a portion of proceeds and ticket sales go to improving the environment and parks.
Additionally, local artists contributed to a variety of new T-shirt designs each day, with designs running out every night.
Allison Watkins, chief strategy officer at APF said her organization’s goal is to restore Zilker Park to its healthy state and provide guests with an eco-friendly way to score a free T-shirt.
“We wanted to get involved because there is not currently, officially recycling in parks in Austin,” Watkins said. “We’ve had almost a thousand people participate in the past two days.”
Although recycling and trash stations were positioned throughout the festival grounds, many of them were overflowing or underused. Guests participating in the Rock and Recycle initiative helped to alleviate the issue of waste throughout the festival.
With weekend one wrapped up, fans of the festival will be preparing for round two from Oct. 13-15.