By: Connor Glasset, Secondary Education Major, Champlain College
The music festival season has officially begun for some of us lucky study abroad students. Kicking off the fifth, and arguably the most enjoyable, season of the year was the Auckland City Limits music festival on March 19th. Lasting only one day, the festival is the perfect length for first time festival-goers or busy college students looking for a short break in their schedules of diligent study.
A one day pass, was roughly $100USD…and worth every penny. The amps were plugged in and played on high beginning at 11:00am and projected sound for the following twelve hours when they were finally silenced a little after 11:00pm. In total there were 50 acts spread across six stages. For the most part, the acts were staggered, so that bands only overlapped by fifteen minutes max, allowing the audience to see the majority of, if not the complete, sets of their favorite acts.
The headliner for the event was the uncrowned king of modern rap, King Kunta himself, Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick definitely was the main act that people came to see, this was pretty apparent because after 6:00pm the venue became absolutely slammed with people and the influx lasted up until his performance at 9:30pm. With that being said, he certainly didn’t disappoint. Kendrick was awesome and played a large amount of his old singles as long with quite a bit of his newer music from his latest album.
Although Kendrick killed it, I think I enjoyed some other shows more. All of the performances were fantastic, but some of the viewing experiences were better than others. For example, there was almost no one in attendance when Grace Potter took the stage. Seriously, there were maybe 50 other people in the crowd, and they were all definitely American. When she took the stage she also gave a special shout out to her home state of Vermont, which made me feel back at home. Amongst my favorites, in no particular order, were Cold War Kids, Action Bronson, Shakey Graves, and Highly Suspect.
While at the festival I learned that this ACL was actually the first ever. All things considered, there were a lot of things that the festival did really well and a few things I think could have been done better. As far as positive points go, ACL was the first cashless festival that I’d been to and I really liked it. The system makes it so that you don’t need to have any money on you the day of the festival. Instead you can just load money onto your wristband that had a little RFID chip in it online; if you forgot, or ran out of money, there were top-up stations on site where you could load more money on. Also, there was free transportation from the city center to the venue. This is huge. If you have ever been to a festival you know the pain of waiting in your car in mile long queues and then vying for parking spots; the free bus was much appreciated and if nothing else allowed everyone to enjoy the day to the full extent and return home without putting themselves or anyone else at risk.
On the other hand, one of the downsides that I noticed was that there were only two bars serving alcohol and non-alcoholic refreshments and a handful of food stalls. In the early afternoon, this wasn’t so much of a problem but once the venue started to fill up it was nearly impossible to get a drink or some munchies. Lastly, ACL had a zero tolerance policy toward illegal substances and outside alcohol. That rule isn’t inherently bad; it was really nice to walk around and not see anyone unwell from taking too many drugs. However, the security patrolling the festival was much rougher than other security I’ve ever seen. I watched them chokeslam and then drag a guy out of the festival because they saw him drinking out of a flask that he smuggled in. Although the level of safety that ACL fostered was nice, I think that the security guards were a bit overkill.
All in all, the day spent at Auckland City Limits was filled with good vibes and great music.
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