Big L’s review of Blue Ridge Rock Fest!!

Rob Zombie at Blue Ridge Rock Fest.

It’s been nearly a month since Blue Ridge Rock Fest began and I still have tons of photos to edit. It could be because my full-time job gets in the way of doing a lot of my editing. Or it simply may be because I’m enjoying the ‘road down memory lane’ as I edit.

I’m not sure that I can completely put into words how much fun I had. Sure, I was exhausted at the end of each day from all the walking that I had to do. However, I made it through and got some amazing shots that I’m happy to share with our readers.

Things didn’t get off to a great start for Jonathon Slye and his team. But, by the time Sunday rolled around, those early issues were long gone.

I’ll start with the ugly. Parking on Thursday afternoon and getting to the venue were an absolute nightmare. There was no rhyme or reason as to how they were handling anything. Those folks who were given the task of getting cars in and out, weren’t quite sure what they were doing. In fact, after the festival’s first day, I believe a festival-goer was actually directing traffic out, and doing a fine job of it, I might add.

But, I am a very laid-back person and the mayhem of the parking lot was not going to get to me. I heard plenty of complaining on the bus when we eventually headed into the venue. My thinking at the time was, ‘have you never been to a festival? Have you never been to a first-time event (not first for BRRF, but first in new venue area)? If you had, you would have realized that the troubles we had, weren’t so bad.

Fever 333 at Blue Ridge Rock Fest.

Once we achieved our destination of where the venue was located, the music began almost immediately. And what ensued was four days of one of the greatest rock festivals that I have ever witnessed.

I attended every Rock On The Range and was at all of the Ink in the Clinks (now Inkcarceration) until this year, when they moved it to the same weekend as BRRF. I’ve rocked out at several Louder Than Life’s and been a patron of many other smaller fests. And there was one common theme to all of them…there will inevitably be some kind of problem pop-up, here or there.

Yes, Thursday’s parking debacle was unsatisfactory, but you have to give the powers that be, a chance to fix the issues at hand. And fix it they did. By the time we arrived Friday morning things were getting a little better. Come Sunday, things were running as smooth as silk.

Anthrax at Blue Ridge Rock Fest.

Being there to cover music, was an amazing experience. I met a ton of friendly folks from all walks of like. There were doctors, lawyers, blue collar workers, gas station employees, security guards and other various working class. That’s what I love about rock festivals, you meet some of the greatest people in the world and no one cares where they come from.

Oh, and there’s those little things they call bands. You get to see some of the best rockers in the world like the headliners Breaking Benjamin, Rob Zombie, Shinedown, The Offspring and Five Finger Death Punch. Then there’s those other little drawing bands (sarcasm) such as Papa Roach, Lamb of God, Halestorm, I Prevail, Falling In Reverse, Megadeth, Anthrax, Skillet, and others.

On top of those, there’s the long-time rockers including Body Count, Black Label Society, P.O.D., Suicidal Tendencies, Ill Nino and such. There’s the up-and-comers like Gemini Syndrome, Saul, Starset, Motionless In White, Ice Nine Kills, Fever 333, Fozzy among a list of many.

SAUL at Blue Ridge Rock Fest.

Perhaps the most ebullience I have is seeing the bands that open the day. Those bands that are not household names, at least not yet. I remember seeing Five Finger Death Punch playing the side stage of the Family Values Tour, and they weren’t even the headliner of that stage. Every band that you’ve seen or heard on the radio, headline a tour or festival had to start somewhere. The Godsmack’s and Metallica’s just don’t form one day and become worldwide successes overnight.

With a festival as big as Blue Ridge Rock Fest (over 140 bands), it’s impossible to see all of the acts. However, there was several smaller bands that I was able to see that I believe have what it takes to make that next step. Among those were Alyxx, Awesome Ray Ray, Breathing Theory, Casting Shadowz, Dread Engine and Fate Destroyed. There were also acts like Ignite The Fire, Inner Image, Magg Dylan and Pigweed.

Now just because I mentioned the above bands doesn’t mean that there weren’t others that have the same opportunity. I just didn’t get the chance to see their set to voice my opinion.

Gemini Syndrome at Blue Ridge Rock Fest.

Overall, even with Thursday’s disappointing beginning, I thought the Blue Ridge Rock Fest was an outstanding event. So much so, that I may just take a year to edit all of the photos I took so I can pre-game for next year.

One final note, I have heard and read that Jonathon Slye was considering handing the reigns to the festival over to someone else. As a first-time goer to Blue Ridge Rock Fest, I hope that is not the case. You sir, proved in every way imaginable why you call the festival ‘Fan Driven’.

Your quick response to the bus situation on Thursday was simply remarkable. Your vendor prices were among the best that I’ve seen. The staff at all the vendors that I visited, were friendly and extremely helpful. The security guards were very professional and did a tremendous job. Marcee and Andrea were a huge help in the media tent. I can’t think of anything that you didn’t do to make this the most pleasant experience for all involved.

Random crowd shot.

In closing, there’s only one thing I can say, THANK YOU JONATHON SLYE for all of your efforts and hard work. I truly do look forward to being back in Danville, Virginia next September. My hope is you’re still the captain of the amazing ship known as the Blue Ridge Rock Fest.

Until next time, this is Big L saying ‘keep those horns up and rock on’!! \m/ \m/


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