This year's Austin City Limits festival marked the first time the event expanded into two full weekends of entertainment. Unfortunately, huge crowds of 75,000 people weren't the only things flooding into Zilker Park, and the final day of the fest was cancelled due to dangerous weather (also a first).
We spoke with fanatics who partied through Weekend 1...and returned for another go with Weekend 2. We asked them what differences they noticed, which weekend was better, and (for the love of all that is holy) why they did it.
Kelly Hulse (above), 31, of Austin, described by a friend as a "live music junkie," has attended ACL "every single year since they started it." She and a big group of friends traditionally base themselves out of a nearby house for parking, food, drink and a place to crash when needed.
"I was planning on just doing the first weekend because the park gets wrecked," Hulse says, but she decided to repeat when an out-of-town friend bought passes for Weekend two. "I heard wristbands were being sold super-cheap, and ended up scamming a scalper and getting a three-day pass for $40."
Rudy Garcia of Austin didn't plan on attending the second weekend either, but when he found out he could obtain a VIP pass for $100, he changed his plans and came back on Friday. His festival highlights included great repeat performances by Queens of the Stone Age and Depeche Mode--though he claimed that the tempo of Depeche Mode's Weekend two set was considerably slower and less engaging.
Though black-market wristbands were going cheap, Hulse said the crowd size was slightly smaller, but comparable between weekends. "Maybe they did sell out. There were a crap-ton of people," she said.
For other fans, the decision to attend both weekends came down to concert-going strategy. Vanda Taupradist, who often shows up to Austin events in a furry panda suit, said the first weekend was more stressful, as she was running around trying to catch all the sets. "The second weekend is better because I'm more relaxed and know what I want to see," Taupradist said.
Hulse also noted a difference in her festival style for Weekend two: "I sat through entire sets of bands that I just previewed last weekend," she said. "I got to check out bands I missed the weekend before, and got to repeat shows I loved last time, like Dan Croll."
Vanda the Panda had a specific plan for a repeat performance: "Lionel Richie is my priority this weekend," she said on Saturday. "I was way in the back last weekend, so this time I am getting to the front. And he'll be singing, 'Hello,' and he'll see me, and I'll say: [sings] 'It is me you're looking for!'"
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That magic moment, however, never got to happen since Sunday's festivities--including Richie's headlining slot--were cancelled.
For that reason alone, ACL Weekend 1 may be deemed the winner. Hulse says next year she will still attend the first weekend--planning for weather contingencies--but as an Austinite, she likes "having the option" to ACL all over again.
A security guard who worked through both weekends said the only difference he noticed was more people trying to sneak/talk/scam their way past him into VIP during the second weekend. Perhaps the new motto for the second half of the expanded ACL should be Weekend 2: Nothing Left to Lose.