Artists at ACL promote unity in the wake of tragedy

Mutemath’s performance emphasized the importance of family

Going to a music festival just a week after the Las Vegas music festival shooting might make some people nervous. But I feel that a national tragedy should not be a time to be afraid— it should be a time to come together.

Most musicians felt the same way: Foster the People front man Mark Foster spoke about the need to come together in the wake of tragedy and to support each other despite political divides.

For the past three years, I have gone to ACL with fellow senior Stella Trout, my sister Sabina (’16) and my parents. ACL looks different for high school students, college students and fifty year olds:

  • Stella and I go with the flow, hitting our favorite bands, but floating around the festival in between. We stop occasionally for food and ice cream.
  • My sister plans her festival weeks in advance: Spotify playlists and spreadsheets are key elements of her experience. She goes from stage to stage, rarely takes breaks and meets up with friends only if their music preferences match her own.
  • My parents watch bands from before 2005, wear (gasp) comfortable clothes and carry foldable chairs.

Despite our different festival styles, we all have a great time because, at ACL, you don’t have to be liberal or conservative, gay or straight, old or young. For three days, all you have to do is dance.

Each artist highlighted our need to be joyous together in their own way:

  • Paul Meany of MUTEMATH highlighted the importance of family by bringing his daughter Amelia onstage.
  • Solange encouraged everyone to forget their troubles for the night and dance.


  • Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers spoke about his hope that our world will find peace soon.
  • Jay Z encouraged everyone to check on their friends before performing songs from the EP he collaborated on with Linkin Park to honor Chester Benningfield. 

  • The Killers played songs by Tom Petty to honor him.
  • The festival paired with Red Bull to stage a spectacular tribute to Tom Petty: three parachuters jumped out of a helicopter, flying the Texas Flag and shooting out sparks, while Free Falling played from every speaker.