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Gates open on ACL Fest’s last day, but muddy memories linger

Eric Webb
ewebb@statesman.com

It’s the home stretch. After a Saturday delayed an hour by rain and marked by muddy park grounds, Austin City Limits Music Festival opened its gates Sunday for the third and final day of its second weekend.

Hopefully, you didn’t think it was already safe to wear white.

As soon as festgoers streamed in under gray skies shortly after 11 a.m., the ground was a sticky, sloppy reminder of Saturday. Slick, flat, grassless stretches remained at the entrance, with modest mulch peppered in some spots. Further into the park, the largest expanses of mud, the ones that yesterday hosted dance parties during Tune-Yards and Major Lazer at the RetailMeNot stage and made for a filthy, precarious commute to Lana del Rey at the Samsung Galaxy stage, looked as bumpy and wet as ever.

Pedestrians lost shoes to the sinking muck. In the middle of the park, standing puddles remained while a work crew forked mulch onto thoroughfares, even as music fans fanned out to stages at every corner of Zilker.

According to the National Weather Service, there’s still a 20 percent chance of isolated rain and thunderstorms into the afternoon. Highs are in the 80s, with breezes expected later for a cool evening.

The sloppy Saturday didn’t deter a typically sized morning crowd from assembling at the ACL Fest gates before 11 a.m. Courtney Linclau of Denver, who plans to camp out for her first Pearl Jam show today, seemed mostly unfazed.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Linclau said. “I think I got tired from walking around trying to keep my balance.”

Festival volunteer and Austinite Mark Ruiz, who greeted attendees at the gate with an “Info, Ask Me” sign hoisted aloft on a pole, saw an upside to the mess Saturday.

“I liked it,” Ruiz said. “People were clearing off to the sides of the mud pit. If you wanted to get close (to the stage), you just had to stand in the mud.”

Ruiz volunteered at ACL Fest for the first time last year and has dancing on his mind for Sunday, with Scottish EDM guru Calvin Harris at the top of his agenda. He also plans to see German DJ Zedd instead of New Zealand sensation Lorde, whose weekend-two-only set is expected to be a hot ticket. (She plays on the RetailMeNot stage, where the worst of the mud appears to remain.)

Clutching copies of Danish pop singer Mø’s LP “No Mythologies To Follow,” Paige Dyer of Georgetown and Adam McCullough of New Orleans are taking a different course today for seeing acts like Lorde and Pearl Jam (and of course, Mø).

On Saturday, “I took my shoes off first thing,” McCullough said. “I’ve still got dirt under my toenails. … I think we’re going to stay near the back today.”

“We were up close for Lana del Rey,” Dyer said. But the pair doesn’t think the soggy chaos is worth it today.

Austin singer-songwriter Emily Wolfe and rootsy gospel act The Stapletones kicked the last day of ACL Fest off at 11:15 a.m. Tonight’s headliner are Harris and Pearl Jam at 8 p.m., though the crowd for Lorde at 7 p.m., booked on a stage that might be too small for her pop star-sized draw, is one to watch.