By Allison Johnson
Blog Content Contributor
My first ACL experience was in 2012. I remember that it rained that weekend. When it started pouring, hundreds of us ran under tents to stay dry. You know who wasn’t leaving? People camping out at the stage. Crazy. It took me a while to realize why these people were so dedicated to sit in the rain. I was shocked. They were holding it down to have the chance of Anthony Kiedis or Jack White sweat on them. I thought they were wasting their money. I assumed they were sitting through sets they weren’t interested in when they could be seeing shows all day.
My next ACL Fest was in 2015. I was hyped for many shows but specifically Brandon Flowers. I got to his set early and was close to the stage, but not on the barrier. I remember thinking that the next time I see him I want his sweat to drip on me, so I made it a goal to be front row next time he came to Texas. I was so excited when ACL announced The Killers were headlining in 2017.
So, I gave in this year. After all, Brandon Flowers did say “wait for something better”. Being in the front is better, so I decided to wait. I got to Zilker around 10:30 a.m. I was the first person to run through the west entrance (s/o to all the nice people who let me cut them when they realized I was there early to run to the stage). My Lyft driver didn’t want to be anywhere near Barton Springs so he dropped me off on the very other end of the American Express stage. Bummer, but it’s probably a good thing I didn’t go through the main entrance. Some people recorded some fans running in. My fanny pack fell to my feet when I was running. Thank God no one saw that!
The music they blasted through the park at 11 a.m. sounded like something you would hear in The Hunger Games. I normally don’t run, so just know I was serious about getting there early. Even though I got to the stage within minutes, there were about 10 people there when I got to the barrier. Once I sat down, I opened my arms up so I could finally breathe. It was an amazing feeling knowing I would be so close to the stage. Then it hit me, I’m about to sit here till 8 p.m.
Two hours into waiting, I had to use the restroom. I freaked out because I thought this was it. I was scared I would lose my spot if I got up. I couldn’t afford not to drink water, because my only outcome then would’ve been passing out. I figured someone was down to save my spot. I knew everyone that showed up to the barricade right at 11 a.m. was here for the same thing (to have Brandon Flowers sweat on their foreheads). I spoke up and decided to ask a bunch of people to save my spot while I went to the restroom and picked up some food and water. Everyone was so down. People laid down their backpacks and even bodies to guard my spot. That is LOVE. I even had people offer me water and snacks.
Time actually went by quick. It was just a matter of sitting for an hour, and standing up for a one-hour set. Luckily, we had some great bands to see at the AE stage throughout the day. Deap Vally, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Milky Chance, and The Head and the Heart killed it. We enjoyed the sets, but I’m sure every band knew we were dying in front of the barricade for The Killers. It was so funny when each band ended their sets, everyone in the front would drop to the ground within seconds to rest for another hour.
We were practically sitting on each other in between sets, but we were all expecting for it to be that way. No one was bickering about someone’s shoulder being in their back. Somehow, we found a way to be as comfortable as possible. I eventually needed to go to the restroom again, but ended up just ignoring the feeling of needing to. I also didn’t even want to think about food the whole time. I was too excited for the show. I’m sure my body went into survival mode. By the time, it was 6 p.m., I was ready to stand for the rest of the night.
You might be thinking “wow, you’re ridiculous, do The Killers really mean that much to you?”. I literally have a tattoo of their Battle Born logo on my head. You guys, I used to blast Somebody Told Me during the Hot Fuss days and jam out all day on Yahoo Music. My dad would repeat the lyrics back sneeringly like, “Somebody…told me…you? Had a boyfriend..? Who looked like a girlfriend?” Yes dude! Let me jam in peace. I love their music and it’s been a part of me since I was a kid. Wouldn’t you like to say that you’ve been front row for your favorite band? The show was everything and more and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else for the set. 15/10 recommend being on the barrier if your favorite band is ever headlining a music festival.
I can honestly say it was the best day of my life. They played Bones and This is Your Life, which I could not have been happier were added to the set list. I’m so happy I pulled through all day. It was so worth it. Thank you, ACL, for putting on a great festival, and thank you Brandon Flowers for bringing us the wilder side of gold and glitz. You are the man.
(P.S. you already know I cried.)
Featured image by Larissa Treviño