After a barrage of cancellations swept through 2020 and bled into 2021, news of an in-person Austin City Limits Festival comeback may seem out of place. However, as the population inches toward herd immunity, it might not be so far off.
With possibly the most difficult year of the pandemic under our belts, here are a few reasons ACL could go on as scheduled in 2021.
1. ACL has been planning for the festival
An ACL spokesperson confirmed the planning of a fall in-person music festival to Austonia last week. Organizers have been promoting its 2021 dates since the same day it canceled the 2020 festival. While its social media accounts have been largely inactive, ACL's website is up-to-date on dates and times for the in-person festival.
2. Live Nation's CEO is confident in festivals returning
ACL is put on by Austin-based event management company C3 Presents, which is owned by Live Nation, a global entertainment company that puts on festivals around the world. During an investor call on Thursday, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said he is optimistic about the return of summer festivals this year. Citing 170,000 tickets that had been sold for three different music festivals in the United Kingdom, where the government recently ruled that large live music events can return at full capacity on June 21, Rapino said he thinks the U.S. could be on the same timeline. Festivals could start as early as midsummer if states can up their business capacity to 75%, Rapino said.
With more artists than ever wanting to tour and fans eager to make up for lost time, all signs point to even more concerts ahead. Thank you to all of our @LiveNation employees for their endless resilience and creativity – none of this would be possible without you pic.twitter.com/gdiapVYSyk
— Michael Rapino (@Michael_Rapino) February 25, 2021
3. "Everyone who wants a COVID vaccine will have had one"
Rapino said that by mid-summer, COVID-19 vaccines are projected to be available to the general public and believes outdoor events will be a preferable interaction since they are open-air. Some have suggested events as large as festivals should only be an option for people who have received and have proof of getting the vaccine.
"For both the U.S. and U.K., projections indicate that everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one by May or June, and Europe and most other markets following a few months later," Rapino said. "Given the mass social and economic toll the lockdown has put on the public, we believe there will be strong momentum to reopen society swiftly as soon as vaccines are readily available, and we believe outdoor activity will be the first to happen. So while the timing of returning to live will continue to vary across global markets, every sign points to beginning safely in many countries sometime this summer and scaling further from there."
Gov. Greg Abbott said last week that more widespread distribution will begin by the end of this month. While the vaccine process has been nothing short of a mess, Austin's vaccine allocation is on the up and up, as this week's allocation jumped up 50%.
With the approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires one shot, The Texas Department of State Health Services will receive an additional 200,000 doses next week. As of Feb. 22, Austin had received 233,515 doses of the vaccine, but this week alone, the city will receive a 46,540 dose shipment. Plus, Moderna and Pfizer are ramping up production with the intention of delivering 300 million doses each by July. The state health department estimates that vaccines will be available to the general public this spring.
4. Cases are on a national decline
Although the U.S. is coming out of a massive spike that started around October, cases have been on a steady decline nationally since mid-January. Travis County has followed the same trend. Even though COVID-19 is still not under control, with a vaccine available and the worst spike behind us...
5. Tours are being planned
Austin-based musician Jackie Venson told Austonia last week that she had been vaccinated through a volunteer program, which meant she was finally ready to get back on the road and retry a tour that had been canceled in 2020. Artists all over the world are rescheduling international tours that were called off in 2020, including The Weeknd, Tame Impala, Harry Styles, Russ and Maroon 5. Some even have shows scheduled in Central Texas, months before ACL is even scheduled to begin.
This summer we were excited to be bringing Love On Tour to North America. However, due to the ongoing threat from Covid-19 we have been forced to reschedule these dates to next summer. pic.twitter.com/EqSlr6HmBb
— Harry Styles. (@Harry_Styles) June 10, 2020
6. Festivals are being planned
ACL is not the only festival that plans to reignite in 2021. While major spring festivals like South by Southwest, California's Coachella and UK's Glastonbury have been canceled for the second year in a row, other festivals later in the year have managed to skirt the issue by waiting. Although Dr. Anthony Fauci does not recommend easing up restrictions until the time is right, he said large gatherings should be safe to resume once the U.S. nears herd immunity—after 70-85% of people are vaccinated or have already recovered from the virus—which he predicted would be this fall last month.
Festivals like The Governor's Ball and Bonnaroo—New York City and Manchester, Tennessee, festivals that usually kick off June—have been postponed until September. On the local front, JMBLYA said it is planning 2021's festival and UTOPiAfest is already selling tickets for an October festival.
7. We really, really need it
After a year when no one thought things could get any worse, Texans have already been through the wringer with statewide political protests and the winter storm of the century that left millions without necessities.
Austin became the Live Music Capital of the World by playing live music and residents have certainly missed its presence. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on our lives from a physical and mental standpoint and while no Austinite wants to see anyone get hurt by a music festival that is supposed to bring joy to the city, going another year ACL-free just doesn't feel right.
Logistically, planning an international festival after a global pandemic is a challenge in and of itself. Some have talked about providing proof of a vaccine to enter, setting tents six feet apart or cutting the attendance lower to make the event a real possibility. For now, seven months away from the two-week fest, ACL is definitely a possibility.
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With two weeks of rest, a dream team lineup and nearly 20 scoring attempts in the match, Austin FC could have come away with a three-match home win streak against Minnesota United on Saturday.
Instead, missed opportunities and an equally boisterous opponent forced Austin to leave Q2 with a 1-0 loss to Minnesota.
Austin FC brought what appeared to be their strongest lineup to date to the pitch after their two-week break, including breakout stars Sebastian Driussi and Moussa Djitte. But even with dozens of shots between the two teams, the home team couldn't find their footing in the back-and-forth match.
After landing a brace in the team's 2-1 win against Real Salt Lake, Austin's Cecilio Dominguez struck first in the match with a shot on goal in the eighth minute of play. The scoring attempt opened the floodgates—in just three minutes, teammates Moussa Djitte and Sebastian Driussi would follow suit with their own looks at goal.
Just seconds later, Minnesota bounced back with a shot that forced Austin keeper Brad Stuver to jump for his first save, but a bad sendoff from the Verde and Black left Stuver unable to block another as the Loons' Franco Fragapone scored from close range in the 16th minute.
Despite a wide array of scoring attempts—from Djitte's blocked high-fliers to Tomas Pochettino's many near misses— Minnesota would stay on top for the remainder of the match.
A few flops from Minnesota, including a poorly-acted fall from the Loons' Emmanuel Arriaga (which was unrewarded and resulted in an Arriaga yellow card) and a controversial foul given to Moussa Djitte as he nearly made a solo drive to goal added to Austin's woes.
The Verde and Black's final attempt came as Austin center back Julio Cascante placed a close-range header in the final seconds of regulation, but the home team was unable to capitalize on their many attempts.
Both teams shared over 30 shots in the match, with Austin making eight shots on target. Austin FC held over 65% possession and received 12 fouls to Minnesota's nine.
It could soon be impossible for Austin FC to reach the playoffs, but Verde fans still have two chances to catch their team at home. Austin's first season will wrap up with five final matches, including a 4 p.m. Sunday game against the Houston Dynamo on October 24 and an 8 p.m. Wednesday match against Sporting KC on November 4.
80' Austin makes first subs
With just over 10 minutes left in regulation ,Austin FC made some late-game subs, swapping Diego Fagundez for Austinite McKinze Gaines and Sebastian Driussi for forward Jon Gallagher. Both have a history of clutch performances for the team: Gaines scored just 10 minutes in to his first match of the game back in September, while Gallagher was Austin's first scorer at Q2 Stadium.
It's looking more like a draw at best for Austin as the time continues to tick down on the match.
61' Djitte loses chance after controversial call
In the 61st minute of a less-cohesive half for Austin, Moussa Djitte found himself alone near the goal with a good chance at making the home team's first goal. But referees had another ideas, making another controversial call on the Senegalese striker.Refs stopped Djitte's menacing drive after Minnesota's Michael Boxall appeared to flop in a run-in with the striker, curbing Djitte's attempt to boos from the crowd. It's Djitte's second foul of the night and the team's ninth foul in the match. Both clubs host a yellow card, with center back Julio Cascante holding the home team's sole warning call. Minnesota's Emmanuel Reynoso holds the away team's yellow after an obvious flop that left him rolling on the ground for minutes, waiting on a call.
Blown whistles for both sides have slowed the match's tempo and left both clubs reeling as Austin looks for its first goal.
At the half: Austin still can't finish
45' still left to play. pic.twitter.com/39J1XnvvOc— Austin FC (@AustinFC) October 17, 2021
With minutes-long shooting sprees and more shots on goal than Minnesota, Austin could easily have the lead in the match. But each crowd-raising attempt has still been slightly skewed as the home team ends the half with nothing on the board.
In just 45 minutes, both Austin and Minnesota have reached the double-digits in scoring attempts, but Minnesota's ability to infiltrate Austin's penalty box has given them the leg up in the match. The Loons have sometimes found themselves nearly alone alarmingly close to goal, and they've capitalized on their chances with a 16thb minute goal by Franco Fragapane.
Austin FC, however, has not. The club has seen close calls from Dominguez and Driussi, headers from Djitte and near-misses from Tomas Pochettino, but missed opportunities and a few strokes of bad luck have left them scoreless. The team will need to shake their age-old scoring issues if they hope to get back into tonight's game.
16' Minnesota nabs 1-0 lead
Austin may have struck first, but Minnesota won the first points on the board as Franco Fragapane got one past keeper Brad Stuver from a close range in the 16th minute to make it 1-0. The Loons tested Stuver just as Austin did Miller, making two anxiety-inducing shots before Fragapane struck gold.
This goalie-vs.-goalie match has already seen three shots on goal from each team and a relatively quiet midfield as each team dukes it out in the box.
11' Austin tests Minnesota first
Austin FC has taken no time to threaten goal. In a three-minute span, the home team has racked up three shots, two of which are on goal, as the ball bounces between Austin attackers but can't quite find the net.
Dominguez strikes first as he looks to find his third goal in three matches in the eights minute, but Minnesota's Tyler Miller fights back with a clutch save. Djitte then tests Miller just seconds later, while Driussi takes a final shot from farther back that just misses the top left corner.
Austin's Fagundez and Pochettino were the playmakers of the three-minute shooting spree, but the club still came out scoreless. Minnesota soon rebounded with a shot of their own that was blocked by keeper Brad Stuver.
This may be Austin FC's most popular lineup— even the crankiest fans are commending the strong starting XI on Twitter. Tonight's starters are the same as in their win against Salt Lake.
New standouts Moussa Djitte and Sebastian Driussi are in alongside double-scorer Cecilio Dominguez up front, while fan favorite Diego Fagundez, Captain Alex Ring and Designated Player Tomas Pochettino take the midfield.
With Matt Besler still out on concussion protocol, Zan Kolmanic, Jhohan Romana and Julio Cascante take the back along with Hector Jimenez, who is in for right back Nick Lima. As (almost) always, Brad Stuver holds it down in goal.
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An Austin-based program manager for Apple Maps and one of two leaders for the #AppleToo activist movement said she has been fired after a suspension.
According to the New York Times, Janneke Parrish said she was put on suspension for several days while the company investigated her activities before she was fired by a human resources employee via phone call on Thursday.
Parrish was under investigation for allegedly leaking a recording of an Apple staff meeting to the media, which she said she didn't do.
The report said the company told Parrish, who is 30, that she was being fired for having deleted files off her company-issued phone and computer before handing them in for examination. Parrish said the files she deleted contained her personal and financial information.
Among the files she deleted were the Robinhood app, which she said was to keep Apple from seeing "how much money I lost investing in GameStop," the Pokemon Go app and screenshots of programming bugs she was fixing.
Parrish said she believes Apple was retaliating against her efforts in organizing #AppleToo, a group of employees working to expose the company's "culture of secrecy" that has been "faced disproportionately by our Black, Indigenous, and other colleagues from minoritized racial, gender and historically marginalized groups of people."
Parrish had been publishing weekly accounts of workplace problems that had been shared anonymously with her from other employees, though she did not verify employment on all of them. The accounts she received were in the hundreds, so Parrish said she was hopeful her termination would lead to some justice within the company.
Employees at tech giants have been more outspoken than usual in recent months—with former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen speaking out against her former employer—and Parrish said the company's desire to keep under wraps has eroded trust by discouraging employees to come forward with issues like harassment or wage disparity.
Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock commented on the matter: "We are and have always been deeply committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace. We take all concerns seriously and we thoroughly investigate whenever a concern is raised and, out of respect for the privacy of any individuals involved, we do not discuss specific employee matters."
Additionally, the email detailing her termination, which was obtained by the New York Times, said Apple had determined that Parrish "engaged in conduct in violation of Apple policies including, but not limited to, interfering with an investigation by deleting files on your company provided equipment after being specifically instructed not to do so."
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