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ACL Day 1:

Weekend two of Austin City Limits (ACL) kicked off this week, and I was approved to do some coverage.

This year’s ACL is my first experience with the festival. Already a fan of many of the bands, I was extremely excited to spend the whole weekend listening to great big-name artists.

Day one started off with disappointment. I payed $25 to park about a mile away from the event and then had to turn around and walk back once being told my camera could not be brought in (no detachable lenses); I was tired before the event even began.

Tired and camera-less, I was still determined to have a great first ACL.

As soon as you enter the event, you could see why ACL is so famous. All day, music can be heard coming from at least on of the eight stages. Food venders are lined up on one entire side of the grounds while merchandise or “merch” venders are located on the opposite end. Drink vendors are located near every stage and at other convenient locations.

However, ACL food, drink and merch do not come cheap. If you are planning on attending at any point, bring a good amount of spending cash.

Among the food, drink, merch and music ACL has to offer, another captivating aspect of the festival is the amount of people who attend.

When I arrived at 2p.m., the festival was already packed full of people attending the Capitol Cities performance.

Afterwards, I journeyed to the opposite side of the festival grounds to see a band by the name of Chvrches. This crowd was even larger than the first.

Luckily, the next show I attended, Sam Smith, was nearby. A short walk turned into a twenty-minute obstacle course as I weaved my way through the thousands of people in attendance. The realization of how big this event truly was came at that night’s headline show, Outcast. The entire festival grounds, stretching back to even the farthest stage, was filled to capacity.

ACL Day 2:

After an extremely long first day, I decided to sleep in and attend the second day of ACL later in the afternoon, and with a more equipped plan.

As I entered the fair grounds to start my second day, it became clear to me that the second day was going to get dirty. It rained the night before and in the early morning causing the ground to be nothing but mud. Attendees, however, did not let this small inconvenience stop them from going about their day as planned. I witnessed people covering themselves in mud, loosing shoes and even throwing some at each other.

While venturing the festival grounds, I stumbled upon the Iggy Azalea show. At the time, this stage had the largest attendance. Even though the majority of the ground in front of the stage had turned into mud, fans of Iggy didn’t seem to mind as they watched on and sang along to some great hip-hop music.

After Azalea’s set, I decided to make my way to the food venders. After viewing several options, I decided on “The Scallywag” prepared by Torchy’s Tacos. This delicious taco consisted of coconut battered shrimp with Cap’n Crunch, bacon, green chilies, pickled onions, cilantro, jack cheese and peach habanero jam. Quite a lot for a small taco but definitely one of the highlights of my ACL experience.

With still some time left before heading to the headline show, I decided to check out the merchandise that ACL had to offer. On my way, I noticed a small tent for Waterloo Records. I stopped and found a small record shop filled with records and CDs of performing ACL artists dating back to their debut albums. I bought a few great finds and prepared for the biggest show of the night.

Eminem was unlike any other show at ACL. Fans had their hands in the air during the entire show as they sang along to every word. The crowd extended to the neighboring stage, making this the largest crowd of the weekend.

ACL Day 3:

I was up bright and early for my last day of ACL. I ate a nutritious breakfast (like 4 donuts) and was off.

With already two days experience, I entered my last day with a to-do list filled with rock music and food.

First on that list was to see one of my favorite bands, AFI. As their start time grew closer, I headed to their assigned stage and was very surprised to find such a small crowd. This scene automatically lowered my expectations but, as soon as AFI started their set with a well-known song, I soon came to find that everybody in attendance were true, die-hard fans.

AFI wasted little time with introductions and stories and played their set — enjoying every minute of it. The huge response from the small crowd made for one of my favorite ACL moments. Every person in the crowd screamed back lyrics, had their fists in the air and moshed along to great music.

Tired and beat up from the AFI crowd, I made my way to the opposite side of the festival grounds to catch the Gaslight Anthem show. This transition from fast-paced punk rock to a more melodic rock show was a great experience. The Gaslight Anthem played songs off of their new record and some old classics.

Everybody in the crowd was moving and singing along. It was a great performance by a great band.

After the Gaslight Anthem performance, I decided to check out what other food ACL had to offer. With my festival funds running low, I came across Hat Creek Burger Co. They offered a burger and sweet potato fries for 9$. The burger came on a sour dough bun with a special sauce called “happy sauce” that was perfectly complemented by the side of sweet potato fires.

After enjoying my meal, I made my way back to the stage for my final show of the festival.

The Replacements played an amazing set to fans that made their presence known by shouting out requests. Their performance was the last one of the band’s reunion tour, and they ended their run in the greatest way possible. The entire band seemed to enjoy their time spent on stage by making jokes, jumping around and even playing from hammocks.

Even though The Replacements weren’t the last band to play on Sunday night, this marked the end to my ACL adventure. Starting off not knowing what to expect, I now have a clear understanding of how this festival is run. Three days took a lot out of me and I was ready to get home and shower.

My first ACL experience was positive. A great festival filled with great music and little something for everyone who decides to attend. See you next year!

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