Mark Runyon | ConcertTour.org
Sometimes you begin typing up an article with something completely unexpected. When the day started, we had lots of rain, but the promise of Soundgarden, Bush and Rise Against were enough to pull our sorry butts off the couch to brave the harsh elements. A strange thing happened along the way. The fans showed they were hard core, but the bands and promoters couldn’t meet the challenge.
Our day officially started with Sevendust around 4pm. We decided that if we were going to spend the day water logged, we’d make it a half-day. We targeted the big boys as the festival headed into evening. Sevendust, hailing from nearby Atlanta, were a late addition to the line-up when 3 Doors Down had to pull out unexpectedly a couple weeks back. The band’s bassist was charged with vehicular homicide so touring probably weren’t ranking high on their list of priorities. Sevendust were happy to fill-in and march out tracks from their latest album, Black Out Sun.
The Atlanta Falcons faithful should know Sevendust well as their anthem plays before every home game at the Georgia Dome (“Falcons on top/Falcons gonna win” … feel free to sing along). They amp up 71,000 strong every other Sunday in the fall so they had no problem rocking Carolina Rebellion senseless. Lead singer Lajon Witherspoon put the death grip on the mic with his python arms as his dreadlocks came alive with the beat. The rain was showering them, their equipment and everything in between, but you could tell they weren’t going to give it anything less than their all for these dedicated fans. Much respect for the metal heads of Sevendust.
Here’s where the festival started going off the rails. Volbeat pulled a last minute cancellation, throwing the schedule into disarray. All the bands are moved up a time slot, but the audience doesn’t get the memo. When Buckcherry started their set on the Rebellion stage, most festivalers were still over at the Carolina stage expecting to be wowed by Volbeat. You could hear crickets chirping over at Rebellion. Volbeat wasn’t the first cancellation of the day and unfortunately wouldn’t be the last. Nonpoint started off the no-shows when they were set to kick off Sunday’s music at noon. They bowed out for an undisclosed reason.
Buckcherry took the stage next as the crowd slowly migrated through the muck to the far off stage. Josh Todd and the boys were touring on their latest release Confessions which hit stores in February. The rain had picked up to the point where it became futile to attempt to stay dry. It was fun to watch the creative ways people were employing to keep mother nature’s tears off of them. I saw plenty of garbage bags, a couple wrapped up in a tarp even a whole city underground of people, huddled up below the risers set up for handicapped patrons.
Most revelers seemed to thumb their nose at the rain. A mud wrestling match broke out spontaneously in the middle of the festival grounds which attracted more attention than some of the bands. A constant chorus of “we need more girls” kept piping through the testosterone charged group. Where are those buxom Hooters and Jager girls when you really need them? Other people seemed to use the grounds as a makeshift muddy slip and slide. Some dove head first like they were four again while others landed on their ass much to their own embarrassment.
Back to the music. Buckcherry were troopers. The rain seemed to short out the mic a few times, and by the end of the set Todd’s shirt was off, displaying his carefully decorated torso of tattoos. The whole band were drenched and physically spent, but looked happy to give the audience a thrill. Unfortunately, it would be their last thrill of the evening.
Rise Against was booked for the Carolina stage at 6:45. The wait began. At first glance, the stage was empty minutes before the band was set to emerge from the wings. No gear had been setup as would have normally been done at the change out. After our eyes dug in a little deeper, you could see the drum kit resting at the rear of the stage as the roadies tried to shoo away all this water. They brought out an army of leaf blowers and even a few squeegees to combat the slick surface. Squeegee man became an instant celebrity. His exploits will be retold by attendees for years to come, and I hear he’s mulling a run for North Carolina state senate.
The wait ticked over to 30 minutes as no word came from festival organizers. The temperatures were beginning to drop and the wind was swiftly picking up. For this wave of wet people, it was positively frigid. The photographers were told to return to the media tent as the media handlers had no word concerning when Rise Against would take the stage. The blowers continued to roar in futility as they’d clear the stage off only to have it fill back up again. Then came the Bush announcement.
The initial word was Bush was running a few hours behind which really would have thrown a wrench into this patchwork schedule. Next thing you know, Bush is out. The faithful at the Rebellion stage got understandably pissed. They were throwing trash cans, bottles and pretty much anything that wasn’t nailed down at the stage. The festival promoters had a power keg brewing here. Somebody call the riot police.
The wait continued as rumors started circulating that the event had been called off. The crowd started to dwindle as the inevitable seemed to be baring down hard on all these poor souls who spent their day trudging through mud, drenched from head to toe, for the promise of Chris Cornell and Soundgarden. At 8pm, hope was finally put out of its misery as they broke the news on the main stage that the festival was off. The crowd was less than pleased, booing loudly and throwing more things at the stage. The announcer asked for the crowd to keep their rain tattered ticket stubs as festival promoters would have a special announcement in the days ahead. Ultimately, it served as little comfort to the fans who traveled far and wide to see their favorite bands at Carolina Rebellion.
Checking in on the festival’s Facebook page this evening, there is a little understanding mixed in with the mass of anger, disappointment and disbelief. The ebb and flow of rain had largely died down in the 30 minutes leading up to the cancellation announcement. They had a PGA tournament in Charlotte this weekend, and they managed to get it wrapped up despite the weather. I know its better to be safe than sorry in these instances, but there were a lot of die hard fans who gave the middle finger to the weather for the chance to see their childhood idols in Bush and Soundgarden. I wish it could have gone down differently because the fans deserved it. My soggy hat is off to Sevendust, Buckcherry and all the afternoon bands who held up their end of the bargain. Hopefully, Carolina Rebellion can come prepared to live up to that rain or shine promise in 2014.
Mark Runyon | ConcertTour.org