It’s a bit of a stretch to call this weekend’s Epicenter Festival, the metallic offspring of Carolina Rebellion held Friday-Sunday (sort of) down in Rockingham, the Fyre Festival of North Carolina.
Fyre Festival stranded jetloads of trust-fund Instagrammers in a Third World Country (check the documentaries on Netflix and Hulu, if you haven’t already). Epicenter stranded a bunch of metalheads in the rain in Rockingham.
Unlike Fyre, Epicenter had actually booked the bands on the bill, which included Korn, the Cult, Mastodon and Foo Fighters.
But like at Fyre, the infrastructure could not hold, and the weather made it worse.
Logistics on Day 1, by most accounts, sucked, leaving attendees stuck in hours-long traffic jams on the few roads into and out of the festival site.
Even before Day 2 was canceled due to weather, attendees had trouble getting into the site and many, according to news reports, never got close. And word spread that general admission tickets — for which many had paid $90 and up — were going online for $1 and $2.
What in the name of Ja Rule was going on?
We are fortunate in the Triad, where there are many, many wonderful, and often free, community-oriented music festivals like the NC Folk Fest, the Carolina Blues Fest, MerleFest, Shakori Hills, Gears & Guitars, and whatever Groove Jam is. And then there is the festival business, a crassly commercial offshoot of the form that, despite the kickass marketing, is really all about wringing dollars from young people. It’s why there’s a VIP section in front of every stage, why there are glamping tents at Coachella and why Bonnaroo platinum tickets are sold only in pairs at $6,550 per. Perks include free food and booze, a dope, air-conditioned campground and you get to ride around in golf carts. This is the kind of crap that made Fyre Festival possible.
Somehow, Epicenter managed to be both.