Austin City Limits Makes a COVID Comeback

Olivia Neve, Co-Editor in Chief

Last year, when COVID seemed to make its presence known in every aspect of our lives, the live music industry suffered from minimal to no crowds at all. Expectedly, the lack of audiences has negatively impacted the careers of musicians as there is no purpose to play for fans or seats to fill. As normalcy gradually returns, the question of whether or not live music is back remains in the minds of audiences and musicians alike. If it is back, will we get to immerse ourselves in the full concert experience as usual? If not, how long will live music’s absence remain? 

The annual Austin City Limits Music Festival is held on two consecutive three-day weekends. It is one of the largest outdoor music events in Texas, and it serves as a major economic driver for the city. C3 Presents, an Austin-based company, produces ACL and also Chicago’s Lollapalooza. Last year’s festival was expectedly canceled due to ongoing concern revolving around the pandemic. 

“I always love going to the festival, so when I heard the news of last year’s cancellation, I was so upset,” Paxtin Stimson ‘22 said.

Fortunately, this year, the festival is scheduled to resume in commemoration of the event’s 20th anniversary. That is not to say, however, that safety precautions will not be a large factor in the event’s preparation, unlike many other years. Attendees will be required to present a printed copy of a negative COVID-19 test which has been obtained within three days of attending the festival. However, those who are vaccinated may show a copy of their vaccination records in place of a negative test result. Additionally, audiences must comply with the ACL Festival Fan Health Pledge stating the ramifications for entry regarding potential exposure to COVID-19, experiencing symptoms, and recent travel. Despite the hindrance of precautions, it is the only way for musicians to salvage and continue their careers and for audiences to experience the enjoyment of live music that has been lacking throughout the last year or so. 

“I have never been to ACL, but I am excited to get to experience it for the first time regardless of the precautions,” Brailey Connor ‘22 said.

The lineup for this year’s festival is sure to make up for lost time. Listed below are the notable musicians expected to play in the 350-acre Zilker Park:

George Strait, Miley Cyrus, Megan Thee Stallion, Machine Gun Kelly, Black Pumas, Jon Pardi, Tanya Tucker, LeAnn Rimes, and Zella Day, Billie Eilish, Rüfüs Du Sol, Doja Cat, Phoebe Bridgers, Dayglow, AG Club, Jack Harlow, Tyler The Creator, Greta Van Fleet, Polo G, Tierra Whack, Cautious Clay, and Band of Horses.

“I am most excited to listen to Machine Gun Kelly,” Sutton Howard ‘23 said. “He is my favorite musician at the moment, and so I think it will be really interesting to see him in person.”  

The precautions, the Texas festival’s celebration of its 20th anniversary, and the angst of musicians and audiences to return to the live music scene should make for an exciting event. 

To purchase tickets and for more information, visit