AUSTIN (KXAN) — Due to rain soaking Zilker Park in the early morning on Friday, the start of the 2021 Austin City Limits Music Festival was pushed back from noon to 3 p.m.
As a result, a few early performances from local artists Asleep at the Wheel, Nané, Primo the Alien and Darkbird were cut.
Austin western swing group Asleep at the Wheel released a statement on social media, saying they were “sad to miss” the festival, but one of its members, Ray Benson, now gets to spend the day meeting his first grandchild. The band has opened every ACL Festival since the first one in 2002.
Members of Darkbird told KXAN they got the news from their manager as they were loading up their equipment Friday morning.
“Crushed is the feeling right now. It was a really exciting feeling, and we all got up feeling pretty pumped about it, and the weather is so gorgeous right now — it’s so hard for us,” said vocalist Kelly Barnes.
Primo the Alien found out in a similar way to Darkbird. She was already a late addition to the festival lineup, so she says it felt “surreal” being asked to perform at first.
“I was so in shock that they even asked me that it sort of felt unreal. I sort of felt like I lost my chance,” she explained. “I said, ‘please excuse me for a moment’ and went upstairs and sat on my bed in the dark for a moment.”
She says it’s a heartbreak, but she’s looking forward to the next thing. She emphasized how important it is to support local artists when stuff like this happens.
“There are a lot of local artists who dream of playing ACL and go every year as fans. It’s really important for everyone to support the locals who play. It’s a huge deal for us,” she said.
Daniel Sahad, frontman for indie-soul band Nané, was one of those fans who attended ACL Fest for years — this was going to be the band’s first year as an artist. They were scheduled to play at 1 p.m.
“Much more than that, to be playing at the main stage, which was another huge honor. That’s just crazy for me in our short time as a band,” Sahad said.
Over the past year or so with the pandemic, he says everyone has kind of learned to roll with the punches and changes as they come.
“It’s a big loss, but I understand everybody made the choices that they had to make in order to keep everybody safe and the ground under control,” he said.
Barnes with Darkbird says they’re still going to enjoy ACL Fest, but it was a “pretty big blow” for such an opportunity they were ready for. She says the music industry is always going to have changes — something Sahad echoed.
“There’s always going to be obstacles, but we have a city that, gratefully, cares for us, and we have a band and we all love each other, and we have so many friends here — we’re going to be fine,” Sahad said.
You can still catch these artists in their next shows:
- Darkbird will be opening for Middle Kids on Oct. 18 at Mohawk Austin.
- Primo the Alien is set to play at 3ten Austin City Limits Live next Friday.
- Asleep at the Wheel will perform at Moody Amphitheatre on Oct. 15.
- Nané gets another shot to perform at ACL Fest next weekend on Oct. 10.