Review and Photos by Wayne Edwards
Blue Ridge Rock Festival only made it through one-and-a-half of the planned four days this year due to a variety of issues. Blue Ridge Rock Festival is meant to be a four-day celebration of rock and metal music in southern Virginia. For the past two years, it has been held at the Virginia International Raceway, located outside of Alton, Virginia near the North Carolina border.
The festival has experienced well-known growing pains ever since it started expanding rapidly three years ago. This year, it reached its breaking point. On Thursday, I rolled into the festival grounds.
in the morning, and it was already hot. The temperature was on its way to the mid-nineties (at least) and the humidity is what you would expect in the south – that is, brutally high. That’s all right, though, because I knew it was coming so I was at least mentally prepared for it. I got sorted out in the credential shed, grabbed my gear, and headed in.
There were a lot of fans queueing up to get into the grounds well before the doors opened, and their entry went incredibly smoothly when the time came. Surprisingly quick, it was. We would all find out later why that was the case, but for now, let’s stick to the music. The headliners on the first day were Five Finger Death Punch, Evanescence, Cypress Hill, and Rise Against. A good set of bands over a broad range of music – that is the absolute best thing about Blue Ridge Rock Festival: they always have a metric ton of great bands.
I wound my way through the tough choices of great bands, going first to see Heartsick, then Stitched Up Heart, Caskets, Stephen Pearcy, Exodus, and Highly Suspect. I was bouncing through some of the old guard, and mixing in newer acts I hadn’t seen before, doing exactly what I wanted to do and having a great time.
The heat was brutal, and it did slow me down. If it had been a little cooler, I would have seen more bands, but hey, we were outside at the tail end of summer in the South, and it was hot. That’s the way it is.
After a little break, I made my way over to stage three just as the Cavalera Conspiracy wrapped up their set. I decided to stay over by the stage because one of my must-sees for the festival, Biohazard, was up next. It had been sunny all day, but a few dense black clouds started to pop in now. I felt a couple of sprinkles and didn’t think much of it. Then a few more. I got out my plastic poncho to cover my cameras and stayed in the same spot waiting for the light rain to pass. But it didn’t pass. The watering picked up, so I put the poncho on, and then suddenly, the rain cut loose. It looked like we were going to be sitting on the sidelines for a while, so I started heading up the hill toward the media tent, away from the main entrance and against the tide of fans heading for the gate. I made it to the tent.
I was soaking wet, but my cameras were okay – that was the important thing. The rain picked up and shortly thereafter an evacuation due to the weather was announced. I headed to my car. Because I was covering the festival, I had parking close by and I did not have to get a shuttle bus. The moment I got into my car; the storm turned fierce. This weather seemed to come out of nowhere. I wasn’t watching the radar or anything, and I knew that the forecast was for something like a 30% chance of thunderstorms, but when this thing hit, it was a surprise.
The festival initially had hoped to open back up that night, but in the end, due to damage to equipment on the stages, everything was shut down for the day. No headliners played on Thursday.
I was staying in a hotel about forty-five minutes away, and not camping. I never camp at festivals, even ones like Blue Ridge that are designed to cater to campers. It is just not my thing. I prefer the comfort and dryness of a hotel, the Wi-Fi, the reliable electricity, and so on. For me, then, I was disappointed to not see the main bands I was there for, but otherwise, I was fine.
Read more about this years BRRF here in the October 2023 edition of Ryze-Up Magazine below!October 2023