As the Austin City Limits music festival begins, the Central Texas staple is the first large-scale concert series in the state since the deadly attack in Las Vegas.
The Nevada shooting that took the lives of almost 60 people and injured hundreds more, was on the minds of many ACL attendees.
“At the end of the day, we are always just ‘be aware of where we are at,'” said ACL regular Alberto Garcia.
He and thousands of others passed through gates that behaved more like airport security checkpoints than past festivals. Garcia and his friends said they were paying attention to their surroundings and made sure to know where the exits were located.
“We have a rally point… we know that if we get separated if there’s an emergency, this is where we are going to meet,” Garcia said.
Attendee Anna Severene said she thought about security concerns but decided to head out to Zilker Park anyway.
“It is something that is on my mind but it can’t take over,” she said. “Life goes on and you just have to keep it going.”
Festival organizers tightened bag restrictions this year, and patted down guests before entry. Austin police announced an increased presence, joining DPS troopers in south Austin.
Edmond Truong came from Dallas to enjoy the scene.
“When I first came, I was a little bit paranoid,” he said about the security concerns following the violence in Vegas. “Hopefully everyone’s safe and that’s the best you can do.”
Roberto Tijerina arrived from Mexico for a getaway weekend, and his fourth time at ACL.
“We were a little nervous because of what happened in Las Vegas,” he said, explaining that security at the festival is typically “really good.”
“Even though what happened last week was unnerving, we were pretty confident to come here,” he continued.
While 10-year ACL veteran Mike Lonchar said if he didn’t feel safe, he wouldn’t keep coming back, others made their first visits to the popular music festival.
“[I] just hope everybody came for the same reason I came for, to hear some music and have a good time,” Colleyville resident and ACL first-timer Carolyn Vallery said. She brought her kids and grandchildren.
Diana Carranza, who brought her two kids from Mexico to take in the sights and sounds, said she came to “celebrate life.” She said she and her husband considered selling their tickets, but ultimately wanted to enjoy the weekend full of music.
ACL organizers expected approximately 75,000 visitors each day to the festival grounds at Zilker Park.