ACL: One weekend too many?

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A crowd cheers as Kendrick Lamar performs at the Honda Stage on Saturday during ACL Weekend One.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

With weekend one behind us, weekend two of Austin City Limits Music Festival has many festival-goers feeling apprehensive. As much as we all need our annual dose of jorts, braided hair and homogenous indie music, hosting ACL for two consecutive weekends isn’t all sunshine, rainbows and rockstars. Even before the festival kickoff, there was serious skepticism in regard to logistics about the second weekend. On one hand, it makes sense. Every year, ACL brings approximately $102 million into the city’s economy, mostly due to tourism. The number is still rising, according to figures published by C3 Presents, the company that manages the festival. 

Two weekends of ACL means more tourists enjoying more music and buying more merchandise, therefore supporting more local businesses citywide. In terms of an economic boost for
Austin businesses, the concept of two weekends is a great one. 

Questions were raised as to whether or not keeping the same lineup for both weekends was a good idea. The purpose was to bring in more money, as well as to provide double the opportunities for people to attend the festival. If C3 was to alter the lineup and trade out the headliners, ACL might attract both newcomers and people returning for weekend two. 

Most likely, two different lineups would have brought in more ticket sales. This makes ACL a little too similar to South By Southwest. The solution here would be to bring back the one-day passes, which the festival eliminated this year. Although selling only 3-day passes brings in more money per person, it also discourages those who may not be familiar with the each
day’s lineup. 

It’s also important to consider the physical state of Zilker Park post-ACL. By the last headliner on Sunday night, the beautifully manicured grass has given way to patches of trampled mud, with most areas covered in a substantial layer of litter. So far, it seems C3 and Austin Parks and Recreation has taken this into account. During weekend one, festival volunteers passed out large trash bags and encouraged everyone to fill them with empty cans and bottles in exchange for festival merchandise, a great incentive to keep the park clean in preparation for the second weekend.

Another concern is the quality of music the first weekend versus the second. Speaking as a first-weekend attendee, the festival’s quality was excellent, just as it has been every year. Yes, the crowds were overwhelming and there may have been long lines for food and Porta Potties, but the musicians were always on par.

With so many of the performers staying in and around Austin for their week between, they may not have the same energy and excitement for performing at the festival one more time. The bands certainly don’t have to play the same set list or make the same banter in-between songs. Nevertheless, it’s reasonable to assume that after a week of having a good time around town, some musicians may not be performing on the same level as they were when they first stepped foot in Austin. 

Don’t be discouraged second-weekend festival-goers, just remember that this is a brand new Austin experience.