Epicenter Festival 2019
Well, what can you say about the old Carolina Rebellion at its new location in Rockingham? They went cheap and it showed. Badly!! Can you say class action lawsuit? There seems to be one over the lack of safety and ease of access to the event grounds. Using a rundown race track in the middle of nowhere with no facilities, off a two lane freeway was a bad idea maybe?
Traffic was a total mess getting in (and out) with the one and only entrance being off Rt 1, a two lane freeway. One entrance being for 70% of the camping area and general parking. Stories of people sitting in traffic two to four hours to move two miles trying to get to the entrance. Many ticket holders angry enough to just turn around and go home. I heard one band did not make it to play. I know Live was thirty minutes late for their forty minute set. I myself was not happy because I chose to shoot Live and not Killswitch Engage. Reason? You got it, tour bus stuck in traffic for two hours.
Parking safety/security was non existent from what I heard. Hardly any lighting for those families with kids searching for their vehicles in the dark. It didn’t help with a bunch of rowdy, drunk and/or stoned people about. Getting out was so bad, people cut down the fence, making their own exit to get out.
Staffing… A lot of unhelpful people on the security and event staff. I tried to ask a security member a question, but he was too busy talking to his friend about some party he was at the night before. I’m standing there with my cameras and media credentials while he just blows me off for the 3 minutes I stood there. Just ignoring me and talking about the dope at this party to his buddy before I said screw it and walked away. It also took me 20 minutes to find out how/where to leave the camp site on Sunday night. The three go-carts I tried to flag down just drove by me. Plus there was no signage to the exit to be found. The staff left something to be desired to say the least.
Saturday was a wash because of weather. Around 5pm the event was canceled and we were told to evacuate and seek shelter in our vehicles. There was a tornado warning in effect. After the storm passed, there were deserted camp sites, destroyed canopies and tents everywhere you looked. Some people dumped everything after their tents collapsed during the storm. I mean everything, including coolers, tents and sleeping bags. Everything, just to get out of there only to be stuck in traffic. Did I mention how bad exits and traffic there?
Showers for the South camp could have been set up better with one area set up a quarter in from both ends of the camp. Not just one shower area in the middle… I was on one end of the camp and had to walk a half mile to get to them. Only to find out they were not working and I walked back unsatisfied with the shower arrangements.
Now for the positive stuff!
The shows that did get to play were just okay to GREAT. I’m not happy I did not get to see/shoot The Cult, Judas Priest, Bush or Tool Saturday night. That being said, Skillet, Rob Zombie and KoRn were my favorite shows of the weekend. Rob Zombie putting on the best show with all his theatrics and light show. Skillet with their high energy and KoRn was great also with their energy and light show. Jonathan Davis also sporting his kilt and playing the bagpipes as always.
Speaking of kilts, Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society was also wearing his color during their show of two and a half songs Saturday before the storm shutdown. Seeing a few kilts in the crowd all weekend. Some think men in kilts is weird, but that was NOTHING compared to some of the outfits worn at the event. The heavy guy wearing just a short tutu and thong was not something I needed to see. But hey, your there to have fun so no big deal. The dust level was a lot better then the Charlotte location being they had more grass. Of course Saturday’s rain helped keep the dust down too. On Friday you could tell it was better when the mosh crowd was not kicking up tons of dust. No dust cloud obscuring vision and impairing breathing like the Carolina Rebellion events. I liked the way they set up the VIP section between the two main stages. All you have to do was walk to the other side for the next show. The VIP section also gave you access to air conditioned restrooms and shade under the bigtop. If you preferred, you could watch the main event stages on the huge large screen TV under the canopy. If lucky, you could grab an empty seat or space to layout your blanket if you had one.
Over all I think their ticket sales will suffer next year over the lack of ease when it came to access and safety. They are going to have to book some big names as a draw like Tool again and maybe Greta Van Fleet. Maybe offer this years ticket holders a discount to get them back for a second try. They will have to do better on safety, staffing, traffic, and facilities if the have it at the Rockingham Race Track again.