As the Austin City Limits Music Festival opened its gates at 11 a.m. at Zilker Park with the standard blasting of the “Star Wars” theme over the park-wide P.A., around a couple hundred festgoers made a relatively easy entry through the fest’s new Barton Springs West entrance.
Security was in full effect there as it was at other gates, but the entry process seemed to be going fairly smoothly. ACL workers instructed people to take chairs out of chair-carrying bags as they approached the bag check, and everyone was checked with metal-detector wands before they entered. Small details suggested greater security awareness: For example, a medic was called over to check my Type-1 diabetic insulin pen, a first in my years of attending ACL. (The check was done quickly and professionally.)
A larger crowd had gathered at the main Barton Springs East entrance, moved slightly further east from where the main entrance previously stood. Rough estimates of the crowd there at 11 a.m. were around 500, perhaps double the size of the West entrance crowd.
Those arriving from the east via Barton Springs Road can still access the West entrance by simply walking through the bike-rack area slightly to the south of the East entrance. It’s about a five-minute walk, but may pay off with shorter wait times as the day progresses and the festival gets more crowded.
As public-address announcements about safety and other ACL Fest rules played in a loop for those waiting at the gates shortly before 11 a.m., a familiar song drifted over the fence from one of the west-side stages. A band was soundchecking with the late Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers.” Expect more such nods to Petty as the weekend wears on.