In 2019 Jess and I wanted to attend a festival together and back then we bought tickets for the Epicenter Festival which got cancelled due to the pandemic. When they decided to bring live music back and music festivals this year Jess and I knew we wanted to attend one of them. We looked at several that were available like The Aftershock, Inkcarceration, and a few other including The Blue Ridge Rock Festival. I really wanted to do the Aftershock Festival because Metallica was doing a 2 night set. However that festival was sold out so we had to decide on another one. We looked at the Blue Ridge Festival and they didn’t even have all the bands announced at that time. However there was one band they did have listed that caught both of our attention and that was Limp Bizkit. Neither of us had seen them before and it was on both of our bucket lists. This was the festival we decided we wanted to do regardless of the other bands that would announced. Unfortunately before the actual concert, about 3 weeks before, Limp Bizkit cancelled all their tour dates for the rest of the year. I felt like this was Epicenter 2018 all over again when I picked that festival for Tool and they ended up cancelling all the bands that night due to weather which included Tool. Though I wasn’t as mad as I was at Epicenter I was disappointed for sure. The reason I was mad at Epicenter is Tool is my top 3 so that stung a little more.
Anyway back to Blue Ridge, this was the first year for The Festival in Danville Virginia. We were supposed to take the red eye flight and get into Raleigh NC around 6 am on the 8th. The day before the festival started so that we could set up our camp and be ready for the first day of the show. Well when we got to the airport we found out our plane was delayed and we were now going to fly out at 6 am and get to Raleigh around 3:30 pm. This really put us behind schedule and we were meeting other people there so this meant we had to re-coordinate things with our group. As we flew in the first thing I noticed was how green it was there, reminded me a lot of Washington State. After we landed we got our luggage and met up with our first friend at the airport and we hit the local Walmart to grab the stuff we couldn’t fly with like tarps for the tent, chairs and of course food to eat on our trip. That ended up taking a long time to get supplies, but once we did we headed out to Danville which was about an hour and a half drive away. We got there and met up with more people in our group at a Sam’s Club. From there we hit the liquor store to grab some booze and then off to get in line for the camping.
When we got to the festival the line to get in was about 3 miles long and it was around 7 pm and we were told that the camp grounds closed at 8 pm. We weren’t sure we were going to get in or not but we had nowhere else to go so we stayed in line. As we crawled along and watched car after car cut in line we started to realize we weren’t going to be in the gates by 8pm but we still decided to wait and see what was going to happen. It was around 8:30 I think when we got into what we thought was the gated area of the campgrounds. It wasn’t, and without any real organization they were letting some people through on to security and others they were parking in this over flow parking lot. They had no organization to the parking in the lot and how they were pulling people out to move on to the campgrounds either. I think we sat in that lot for 30 minutes or so when we finally made our way up to the front of one of the many car lines they had. One of the guys who was trying to direct traffic was getting yelled at by another person who was working there. He comes up and asks how long we had been there for and I told him 45 minutes and he says well its going to be a while before you move again because they had people who were parked in that lot for over 2 hours at that point. It was clear who those cars were because they has them buried in the back. It might have been 10 minutes later we got through and you could see those people that were there for 2 hours were still there trying to get out. Once we got out we headed down the road and sat in another line of cars for probably 45 minutes or so.
They finally started moving the cars and next thing you know we are in line to get into the offsite camping spot which was 3 miles from the venue. We all had bought on site camping spots but we were told they needed to assess the space on the main camp site so they were moving us all off site just for the night. When we finally got into the offsite camp area there was no security check what so ever. They then parked us on this hill, which sort of sucked trying to set up camp. The car next to us said they tried to park them down in this ditch that was at the bottom of the hill we were on. Those people were in a car and had told the workers there was no way because they would get stuck. They were told that was ok because there are tow trucks there if anyone gets stuck. What they don’t tell you is to get towed out isn’t free! That first night we decided to just set up only the tents in case we ended up moving the next day. After we got everything set up we had some drinks and those of us who smoke weed, smoked and we played card games until who knows what time. I think I finally got to sleep around 4 am. The following morning we had more friends that showed up and there was space near us so they ended up moving next to us and we all decided to stay at the offsite camp because we didn’t want to go get back into another line of cars to get on the main campgrounds.Then there was a chance we would do all that and they would still turn us back to the offsite camp. No one wanted to waste that kind of time since we were ready to get our day started and get to the festival.
Once we were all ready to leave we decided to walk to the venue. There was supposed to be shuttles running but from what I heard several of them quit that day and lines were crazy. One of the people in our group decided to take the shuttle and she said she waited in line for 4 hours to get a ride there. It took us over an hour to walk there and that was getting a ride for the last quarter maybe half mile. At that point all that mattered was we were in the festival and ready to see some live bands. We all went in as a group but broke off and did our own things. Jess and I decided to hit the merch booth as we both wanted shirts and figured we would get them right away so we didn’t have to worry about it the rest of the weekend or worry about them running out of our sizes. We ended up standing in that line in the sun because there was no shade anywhere for over 2 hours. We ended up missing one of the bands we wanted to see because of that line but we were committed to getting that done and not waiting in that line again. We both knew it would only get worse as the festival went on. At least while we were in line this guy rolled a blunt and shared it with us. After getting our shirts we decided to grab some food so we could hit bands the rest of the night and not worry about eating until after we got back to camp. The lines for the food booths were so long. I think we waited in the shortest line we could find for about 45 minutes. We heard some of the people in our group waited 3 hours in line to get burgers. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait that long but the food we got wasn’t very good. It was some chicken teriyaki but it was so dry and it didn’t even really taste like teriyaki.
After we were done with all that we headed off to see POD. While we were there we saw a few of our friends and they decided to hang out with us for a bit before heading over to see Black Label Society (BLS). We didn’t end up staying for all of POD either we headed to see Skillet which was on the stage BLS was finishing up at. This was also the stage that Breaking Benjamin was going to be playing and Jess wanted to get on the rail for them. When we got to the stage it was already packed and we had to work our way up. We were in the VIP section however they were just letting GA people through. We were told earlier in the day they were only letting VIP in the area but by midafternoon they just stopped. The only reason we had VIP bands was because someone helped us pay for them otherwise we would have only had GA or not gone at all. Anyway so I saw our friends we met at POD and we worked our way up to them which was about 5-6 people from the rail. I had hoped that after Skillet played a lot of the people would leave to see Halestorm and we would be able to move up closer to get on the rail for Breaking Benjamin. That was not the case, in fact I don’t think anyone left at all. We did manage to push our way up a little further and by the end of it we were only 1 person away from the rail.
This was Jess’s first festival and she wasn’t prepared for all the crowd surfers. I felt bad for her because she really wanted to be on the rail and not have to deal with crowd surfers. I don’t think it was quite the experience she was hoping it would be. It’s certainly not like seeing a concert at a home stadium, festival crowds are much wilder and much bigger. I also felt bad because we weren’t able to get a guitar pick, I knew she was a little disappointed and I wish I was able to do more to make it a better experience for her. Don’t get me wrong I’m sure she had fun just not what she was expecting or hoping for.
After the concert that night we decided we were just going to walk back since we weren’t going to wait hours for a shuttle to get us back. From the main stage to our camping spot it took us 2 hours to walk in the dark. We were so tired that first night back and knew we didn’t want to make that walk there and back the rest of the festival. The following day we headed down to the shuttle area to get to the festival and locals were offering rides as well. Some were taking donations and others were charging. We got a ride down to the festival that way instead of waiting for hours on a shuttle. Once we got into the festival we once again broke up into smaller groups, Jess and I went off and again did our own thing. We went off to watch Sevendust play and after we headed to the VIP tent to see if we could watch Clutch who was playing on another stage. We didn’t know about the VIP tents until that day when someone had told us. It was nice to get out of the sun for a while and be able to sit and watch the bands. As the days went on the VIP tents got better. 2nd day they offered us all a snack and water but we only got 1 each. By the end of it they were giving us as many waters as we wanted and snacks. They also gave away beer/soda can coozies and had sun screen, hair ties and a bunch of other small things for the VIPs.
Anyway after we left Clutch we decided we wanted to eat before it got much later and the bands we really wanted to see were playing. We walked over and the lines once again were so long. But we saw this one lobster and crab roll truck with a short line so we checked it out. Since it was crab and lobster of course it was expensive but the line was really short. So we had to decide if we wanted to spend a lot and get food quick or wait in line for hours and spend less. We decided to get the crab and lobster rolls. I think we spend over $55 for the two of us to eat and we didn’t get full. It was enough to tide us over until the end of the show though.
We decided to go find a spot for Chevelle and we got pretty close to the rail. We were maybe 4 or 5 people away from the front and maybe 3 away from the side rail that went down the center of the 2 VIP sections. After Chevelle finished their set some people did leave but we stayed as we wanted a good spot for The Offspring. Jess and I’s first official date/concert was The Offspring and we had to leave before they played. We ended up on the side rail about 2 away from the front rail. I managed to get a pick at the end of their set. They threw a bunch out and one went in that center walk way between the 2 VIP sections. It hit the ground and everyone started trying to get securities attention so they would hand it to someone. I just leaned over the rail, with my feet in the air and reached over and grabbed it. After the Offspring we met up with some of our group and headed over to see Rob Zombie. We stayed in the back as we didn’t feel like fighting the crowd to get close only to fight them all at the end of the night to try and figure out a shuttle. We not only stayed back but we decided to leave about 3 songs early. Before we made it to the shuttle pick up area we found a couple that gave us a ride to the camp grounds and charged us $5 each. It was well worth not having to walk or wait hours for a shuttle.
We got back to camp that night and you really started hearing all the rumors that were going around. I heard when one of the portapotties was getting cleaned out, the hose broke off and ended up spraying shit over several peoples camp sites and their stuff including their food. I heard by the end of the festival they were being told to get tested for just about everything they could after being exposed to that. I heard that someone died on that road trying to walk back and they got hit by a car. I heard someone died, I think they said it was in the Offspring pit. The other rumor I heard which I had a lot of questions about, but supposedly a child got left/locked into the portapotties. Every night after the festival we would all sit around camp and tell stories about our day and the rumors we heard. That was the best way to end the day with everyone eating, drinking, smoking and hearing all the stories.
The next day which is now Saturday I wanted to get to the festival early as I wanted to catch Corrosion of Conformity. They have to be close to my top 5 bands so I wanted to catch them and they were playing at 1:30 pm. Seems like a lot of time but you have to get ready every morning, which not only included cleaning up, eating but also rolling that days joints and by this time we decided we were going to pack our own lunch since we didn’t want to wait in lines for hours or spend an outrageous amount of money. You weren’t supposed to take food in but they weren’t even checking bags when we walked in so we figured it was best to take our own stuff in. Once you are ready to leave camp remember you still have to get to the festival and that morning we again got a ride from a local to the venue. However Corrosion was playing in the furthest stage so by the time we got there we only saw about 3 songs. It was still worth it as they killed it! It was the perfect way to start the day.
From there we went off to see 10 years, we stayed in the back of the VIP section for them as we didn’t want our food to get all smashed up. After 10 Years we headed to the VIP tent to eat our lunch. We hung out in the tent for a while and just listened to the bands that were playing on the stages close by. We saw Avatar which was cool and part of Trivium. We left the VIP area to check out the Hellzapoppin Freak show we had been hearing about. It was cool, it was nice also because it was in a tent so it again was out of the sun. That sun was intense and there wasn’t many places to escape it there. After the Hellzapoppin we headed off to see Cypress Hill. One of the bands I had never seen before and was excited to see them and get some 420 clips during their set. I got several 420 clips and they put on a great set!
Once they were done we were off to see Seether another band neither of us had seen live before. When we got there they were only letting VIP in the VIP area at first. But there was a lot of GA people yelling at the guards trying to get through. There were only 3 security guards managing that entrance. Yet there were hundreds of people wanting to push through. Jess and I were in the back area so we saw the whole thing going down. I even got some video of it to show people how crazy it was for a few minutes. Anyway as I was saying they had 3 guards there trying to keep non VIP people out. The crowd started pushing and some people got through right away. Then some of the VIP people started helping the guards to hold back the rails. They were trying to get others to come and help. But I told Jess not only are we not going to help but if that mob breaks through we need to move out of the way quickly. They did push through and security eventually just left because they were understaffed to handle that gate. We watched people crowd surf over the VIP barrier and I thought good chance someone is going to get hurt. I don’t know if anyone did but it seemed a little unsafe. Anyway we didn’t let that ruin our good time we sang and danced to the music I got some 420 clips and Seether was really good.
After Seether I wanted to see Megadeath, this was another bucket list band I wanted to see because I had never seen them before. I had even bought a band shirt, first Megadeath shirt I have ever owned. I was excited to see them live. When we were waiting for Seether to hit we were hearing rumors that Megadeath had cancelled at the last minute. I wouldn’t have been surprised because every day of the festival at least 1 band cancelled. I was thinking in that moment I can’t believe I bought another shirt for a band I am not going to see at a festival they should have played. If you remember I bought a Tool shirt at Epicenter the day they were playing and they never ended up playing. Didn’t matter who you asked no one really knew if they were still playing or not. So after Seether we walked over to the stage they were supposed to play in to see if they were playing or not. Thankfully they were all set up and they played. We got kind of close. We were about 3 away from the front rail but I couldn’t tell you how many from the middle center rail. It was a great view and they put on a great set! After they were done playing most of the people raced off to see Five Finger Death Punch but we stayed behind looking for pics that might have been missed. I was so close to getting one. This girl saw it a second before me and got it. I was a little disappointed about that but still glad I got to see them.
Jess and I decided to skip Five Finger Death Punch. I had seen them several times and she isn’t that big of a fan of theirs and her feet were starting to swell up and hurt. We headed to the shuttles hoping we could get on one quickly or get a ride from a local. We still had to walk the quarter or half mile to the shuttles but when we got there I saw 2 of them and a line only at one of them. I ran up to the one with no line and asked if they had room for 2 more and the guy says no go get in the other line and that bus drive tells me yea I have room get in, so we did. We got back to camp and decided to use the showers that cost $10 a person. When we got there we of course had to wait in a line and when we got into our separate showers they were gross. I heard one of the trailers was over flowing with dirty water. They were offering discounts for anyone who wanted to stand in everyone else’s filth. Thankfully our showers we got weren’t over flowing but again still very gross and dirty. It was still nice to get cleaned up best we could, considering we were still camping and sleeping outside. But the amount of dust we were covered in from the festival was nuts. Not to mention the amount of dust we all breathed in over the weekend. Anyway after getting cleaned up we got back to camp cooked up some burger and about then the rest of the group was getting back from the festival so we all hung out as usual.
The following day Sunday, the final day of the festival, we wanted to catch the Pop Evil set which was around 2:30 pm so once again it was getting everything ready for the day and heading out to the festival. We got there in plenty of time to get a good spot we weren’t worried about getting up front especially since we didn’t want our lunch to get all smashed up. At the end of their set they said they were doing an acoustic set at like 5:30ish, I don’t really remember now. Since there wasn’t a lot of bands we really wanted to see for the next few hours we decided to hit the VIP tent and watch the bands that were playing. We hung out until about 4:45 then headed out to get in line for the Pop Evil acoustic set. When we got there, there was already a line of maybe 100 people. We were told that it was supposed to only be for VIP but they were also letting GA in. it ended up turning into a whole thing. I walked up to find out if there was a separate line for VIP and was told no. There was 1 line and I could either go through the line to see where VIP ended and GA started and get in line there, or wait in the front and he would get us in before GA. I told him I would be right back I had to go get Jess out of line. When I got back another guy was telling us something different and that basically now we were out of line (there was a small group of us standing there). I started questioning and telling him that’s not what his partner next to him just told me and I wasn’t going to the back of the line after waiting for 45 minutes. Right about then this girl walks up and says we were told the VIP line was over, they had another line going and no one knew which was which. We ended up waiting a few minutes then we just walked in. We got a great spot right up on the stage. These two guys walked up to the guitarist and asked for picks and he gave them both one. I asked him for one and he said he only had the one he was using left. At the end of their set he did end up giving it to me. The acoustic set was really good! I really like them and to see them play the 2 sets was cool. They ended up playing longer than they were supposed to which was also cool.
Once we left there it was off to see Drowning Pool. We stayed in the back for their set. The one time I had seen Drowning Pool before they were really good and the crowd was crazy I mean lots of fights so we just stayed back. Both of our feet were starting to hurt and we didn’t want to fight the crowd and the pushing and shoving and anyway we had a good spot. I will say Drowning Pool was the only band I saw that played where there were cops on ATVs watching the crowd.
From Drowning Pool it was off to see Papa Roach. We had planned to just stay off to the side for them as well since again our feet were hurting. They weren’t stopping GA from coming in the VIP area and yet people were still “sneaking in” by climbing the rails. No one cared they were coming in but they were stepping over people who were sitting behind the barriers. They were just being rude. The crowds there really were a mob mentality. I know some of the things I saw people doing I questioned if they acted like that in their everyday lives and if they do, well I am not really that surprised either.
Anyway we didn’t stay for all of Papa Roach we left to hit the bathrooms and see if the food lines were short which they were. We got some Chinese food which was actually pretty good and they were quick. The final band of the festival was Shinedown and we both wanted to see them so we headed to the main stage. Of course that place was packed so we decided to once again hang out way in the back like we did for Zombie. Shinedown was a great band to close out the festival. We however did decided to leave a little early like with Zombie as we didn’t want to get stuck there for hours after trying to get back to camp and there was no way we were walking.
When we got to the shuttles we pretty much walked right on to one and there was no more than a 5 minute wait. That night some of the people in our group decided to leave instead of waiting until the morning. Those of us who stayed behind for the final night did our usual sitting around and having a good time. That morning when we got up it was time to start getting things together to get out of there. Jess and I thought we were catching a flight at 6pm so we had plenty of time. We started packing things up and realized we still had 4 cases of beer that we weren’t going to be able to take with us. I walked around the camp grounds for a while and sold 2 of the cases for $10 each and gave 2 away to others in our group that were driving and could take them. It was around then Jess told me they changed our flight home and now we were leaving at 3 pm which meant we were just going to have enough time now to finish packing up and drive back in the next hour and half. Jess and I were the last to leave our groups camping spot I left my roach from my joint on a can someone had left in the front of our camp for a few days. It was my thank you to Danville for hosting the festival. Jess and I did make our flight, with no time to spare but we made it and got home safe. All and all the festival had many problems and a lot of people dealt with more than our group did. I will say that I personally would do it all over again. It was a great time. Bands were awesome and I can’t wait for the next festival which is coming very soon!
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