As a long-time Austin City Limits festival goer, Ashley Garcia was ecstatic to move to Austin in early 2020 and finally be in the same city as her favorite music festival. No more hotel rooms, hours of driving and extra fees to pay.
When COVID-19 hit and event cancelations swept through 2020, though some were proud of the organizers for taking the festival to a virtual format, many Austinites held their breath for an ACL that never happened.
"You could tell they were holding on as long as possible," Garcia said. "I guess those last months, that's when they finally gave the final word of 'nope, it's canceled.' It was so heartbreaking."
This year holds a glimmer of hope for festival attendees, artists and organizers alike. According to Fresh and Clean Media Director of Publicity Sandee Fenton, ACL still plans to hold an in-person festival in 2021, as promised. Though Fenton declined to answer further questions, she issued the following statement to Austonia:
"We are currently planning to hold the festival in Zilker Park in October. We remain in communication with local officials and will offer updates through our website and social media when we have more information to share. Of course, the health and safety of our fans, artists, staff and community is our number one priority and planned for accordingly."
Holding the festival this year will be a daunting task—ACL attracts almost 500,000 fans every year, a figure that doesn't include staff or performers, and tightly packs them together in front of stages.
At ACL 2019, fans packed so far behind Childish Gambino's stage that it was nearly impossible to see the band. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
For artists, the restart of gigs, concerts and festivals couldn't come soon enough, especially for Austin-born-and-raised artist Jackie Venson, who told Austonia that sheltering in place has made her feel confined after a jam-packed year of performing in 2019.
"I felt like I was just screaming at the walls I was stuck inside of, it was really crazy," Venson said. "When I lost my tour and when (festivals were) canceled, and I lost all of that income and all of that activity, I realized how dependent I was on certain things."
Venson performed at ACL 2018 and was part of last year's virtual live stream.
Jackie Venson at ACL 2018.
Although Venson said she found a certain independence in live streaming and being able to directly connect with her audience, after getting a COVID-19 vaccine through a volunteer program, she is ready to book as many shows as possible. Venson said she would even play ACL 2021 if she is asked.
"I don't think that musicians can get any lower than they are right now," Venson said. "I don't think that we'll ever get a harder blow than any of the blows of last year ... because if (musicians) can get through last year, period, they can handle anything. Anything."
Though the popular California music festival Coachella, which is normally held in April, was canceled due to COVID-19 in January, many other festivals are following in the footsteps of ACL. New York City's The Governor's Ball, normally held in June, has been postponed to September this year for optimal chances, Tennessee's Bonnaroo is scheduled to go on in September and while Chicago's Lollapalooza has neither confirmed nor denied the festival yet, it is run by the same companies as ACL and still has the 2021 tickets page up.
And aside from music events, locally, the University of Texas said this week it plans to have 100% capacity for fall football games this year, which would mean the gathering of 100,000 people at the Darrel K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Ashley Garcia in front of the iconic ACL flags in 2016. She has gone to ACL every year for some time, until it was canceled last year. (Ashley Garcia)
For Garcia, anything is better than a virtual concert. If ACL 2021 goes on, she hopes to see Chicano Batman, a band that holds special meaning to her and represents her Hispanic heritage, and Austin's own Black Pumas, who captured her interest the first time she heard them play.
"I'll be the first one to buy a ticket," Garcia said. "I think (ACL) really does give Austin that 'Austin vibe.' You can tell everyone's there for one reason with the connection of the music and just having a good time. I think that all of that together makes it feel much bigger than it is."
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Austin police are investigating the killing of Moriah "Mo" Wilson after she was found with gunshot wounds inside an Austin home.
Wilson, a gravel and mountain bike racer, was visiting Austin from Colorado in preparation for the Gravel Locos race on Saturday taking place in Hico, a small town 2 hours from Austin.
On Wednesday, her roommate came home and found Wilson unresponsive with "a lot of blood near her,” police said. It is now being investigated as a suspicious death. No further information on the suspect or motive behind the killing are available at this time.
Wilson recently had become a full-time biker after winning a slew of races in the past year.
Some of your favorite Instagram filters can’t be used in Texas anymore and Austinites are sounding off on social media.
Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, announced on Wednesday that certain filters would no longer be available in Texas.
The change is a result of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit against Meta, alleging the company uses facial recognition technology that violates laws in Texas. A release from Meta says it stopped using facial recognition tech in November 2021 and denies Paxton’s allegations.
Some Austinites bemoaned the shift, saying some of their favorite filters were now unavailable.
This was my FAVORITE filter on @instagram and they done removed it cause I’m in Texas ! Like wowwwwww pic.twitter.com/uX60hdIC0Q
— Pinkyy Montana (@inkstar_pinkyy) May 11, 2022
i heard that instagram filters got banned in texas? what the actual fuck y’all better give me my favorite filter back
— lia 🤍 (@liatootrill) May 11, 2022
loved this stupid filter sm i hate texas pic.twitter.com/DXr9mmUc64
— birthday boy jeno 🎂 (@beabtox) May 12, 2022
But more often than not, locals joked about the ban.
Texas women seeing the filter ban on IG pic.twitter.com/yDMcP3Qtsr
— Christian (Anabolic) Flores (@christian_flo24) May 11, 2022
So, the state of Texas has banned filter use on IG? THE END IS NEAR. 😂
— THE FRANCHISE! Франшиза (@NYCFranchise718) May 12, 2022
And some in-between chose to show off some natural beauty.
I live in Texas, but no filter needed. 😉 pic.twitter.com/A6teRgYMKn
— bad and bruja (@starseedmami) May 11, 2022
filter, no filter..texas women still reign supreme.
— 🎍 (@_sixile) May 11, 2022
Finally, some are trying to cash in on the opportunity.
Texas IG users- if you want to filter your picture cashapp me $1.50 $ErvnYng
— Gemini (@ervn_y) May 11, 2022
Meta said it plans to create an opt-in system for both Texas and Illinois residents, who are facing the same issues.