I went to Epicenter a couple of weekends ago and it was… eventful.
This was a highly anticipated festival because it was replacing the Carolina Rebellion. I saw multiple comments on social media saying to “bring back the Rebellion” and that the “Rebellion would never have these issues.” Now, it is important to understand that Epicenter is not and will never be the Carolina Rebellion. Having a negative mindset about the new festival and having high expectations for it will inevitably end with disappointment.
Inside of the festival on Friday was great! The first band that I saw was Ded and they jammed! They started the day off right with their energy and they announced that they will be coming out with new music soon! The next band I saw was Vein, and their set was intense. The pit was crazy and some guys brought in pillows and literally had a pillow fight in the pit. The singer for Vein was getting in the crowd and bringing Hardcore to Epicenter.
I then met up with some of my friends from my hometown and we went and saw Beartooth and Skillet. We were in the back hanging out, saving our energy for that night. We saw Knocked Loose, and I think they were my favorite performance of the weekend. They were very interactive with the crowd and were always in our faces. Then I went and saw Evanescence and all I can say is WOW that girl can sing. Finally seeing Evanescence was really fun because they were a band that I would listen to when I was a little rocker.
My friend Ellie and I waited at the stage Rob Zombie was going to play at because he is one of Ellie’s favorite artists. So, we made sure we were going to get a good spot for Zombie! While waiting for Rob to come on, Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) was playing on the other main stage. We could see and hear his performance on the jumbo screens above the stage. He did a good job of interacting with the crowd. He also got a lot of lighters thrown at him when he asked for one. He didn’t catch a single one! Once Rob Zombie went on, the entire crowd exploded. Everyone was moshing and crowd surfing during his entire set.
Then, Ellie and I went to see Korn. Ellie has also never seen Korn and I was excited that she finally got to see them! Like always, Korn crushed it. They played all of their hits and I started a mosh pit near the sound booth. I am proud of that.
Everything inside the festival was great! The food was good; expensive, but good. The bands all started and ended on time, and their sound and light show was impressive! But it was what happened outside of the gate that, to me, was horribly planned. On the first day, there was only one entrance and one exit to the parking lot (rather, parking field). This was a problem the entire day. Some people were stuck in traffic for hours trying to get into the festival. Many were turned away because they ran out of parking, or they were stuck in traffic and missed the bands they wanted to see. We were staying 30 minutes away from the festival and we were stuck in the parking lot for 3 hours (only moving one car-length). No one was directing traffic and a lot of people were getting impatient.
The parking situation and traffic issues that occurred on Friday were (somewhat) resolved on Saturday when entering the festival. They had added entrances! The first band to come on was Alien Weaponry and they set the mood for the day. The next band of interest was Wage War and as always, they killed it! Probably the best performance of the day because they had the crowd wound up! Everyone was moshing, crowd surfing, and singing along with the band. They were assigned one of the smaller stages, but judging from the size of the crowd, they should have been on a larger one. Black Label Society was on a larger stage, and they were steamrolling into their third song when an announcement appeared on the screens that we must evacuate the grounds and head back to our cars because of a tornado warning. The band quit playing, mid-song, and the entire crowd herded toward the exit. Once back in the cars and waiting out the storm for hours, the rest of the festival was cancelled (there was damage to the venue). I did not get to see the two bands that I have been looking forward to all weekend: Tool and Judas Priest. Trying to get out of the parking field was tough because, first, part of it was flooded due to the storms that rolled through and, secondly, everyone was leaving all at once.
Sunday was the one day that everything was great! Parking was quick and easy, and the weather stayed sunny for us to mosh in! The band of the day was Architects, and boy did they put on a show! Their stage presence was fantastic and their light show was great! There was a bunch of crowd surfing for this band. Bring Me the Horizon was of interest, next, they always put on a great live show. Interaction between the singer and the crowd was insane! Everyone was trying to crowd surf and give the singer a high five. Foo Fighters closed out the night and everyone was singing, dancing, and crowd surfing along with the band.
Although everything was great while inside the festival, what occurred outside of the festival is what has me second guessing if I will ever return to Epicenter. Parking was poorly planned out, for one. The logistical nightmare of being out in the middle of nowhere lends itself to chaos when 90,000 people descend. But the thing that bothers me, and many others, the most is that the majority of us spent over $200 to attend Epicenter. Then they had a $20 sale on Saturday passes. A week before the festival, tickets were only $1. To me, this is disrespectful to the people who paid a lot of money to attend and support the festival.
I question if Epicenter will be worth going to next year, because after this experience, I won’t be getting tickets early; and if there is a chance that I do go, it will only be for a day.