May 10th, 11th, and 12th

Epicenter: The Inaugural Year 

As the inaugural year of Epicenter closes out, “Get Plugged-In Magazine” is here to cover the event discussing everything from the camping to the festival itself. I had the opportunity to attend the very first Epicenter and witness the event first hand as well as get quotes from fellow attendees. We’d like to preface with a thank you to Danny Wimmer Presents for the event and the staff that worked to ensure the safety of ALL attendees. 

I checked into the campgrounds at Rockingham Dragway at approximately 2:30 Thursday afternoon. The security was efficient and thorough in checking the vehicle for any contraband items such as but not limited to: alcohol, illegal drugs/paraphernalia, weapons of any kind (knives, guns, bombs) and glass. After passing through the check point, we were directed to our campsite where we would spend the next 5 days (4 nights). Upon arriving to the site we set up camp and began working on talking with campers about the event and how they felt so far. One camper said “I enjoy the location, it has plenty of room for everyone to set up camp and house everything they need, but there are fire ants everywhere and I’m allergic to them. I wish they would spray for ants and trim the grass a few days/weeks before we arrive. Aside from that, I’m pleased with the site” 

As the morning approached my group was ready to start the day and see what Epicenter had to offer. We were guided up a ramp leading past a few foods trucks, DJ station and a campground bar of sorts. Upon reaching the festival grounds, we went through the security checkpoint. Once through I began looking for the water stations provided by the event planners. Asking staff about the station, I received blank looks along with the question “There’s a water station?” One of the staff members even asked that, once I found it, to come back and tell them where it was. I was pleased to find that they did indeed have a water station to avoid dehydration and began telling staff members where it was. As the festival began to kick off I wandered around from stage to stage and vendor to vendor as well as taking a break at the provided Jack Daniels shade tent which was a true pleasure to have as there was very little shade to rest in. 

As the day progressed I began meeting up with more and more of the “Moshpit Teams” that were present for the inaugural year of the festival. They loved that the rules of moshing were changed from “No moshing” to “If you see a moshpit forming near where you’re standing, and are uncomfortable being in the proximity of such activities, find an alternate location from which to watch the performance!” I began walking around with members of Faces Of Fear who gave me a moment of their time to discuss the festival, Patrick had this to say about the festival; “ We have 5 stages running instead of the 4 stages like ‘Carolina Rebellion’. I like the idea of modeling it after European festivals with late night entertainment going into the wee hours of the morning. The only complaints that I would have about ‘Epicenter 2019’ would be that the camping was a little disorganized. I had North Side camping but was put on the far side of the RV campsites away from the rest of the North Side campers, and also the bad traffic that was present on the way in, not just for the people coming in Thursday Night for camping but also the people that came that were staying elsewhere” 

After a great start to the new festival we were anxious for day 2. Upon entering the festival, I walked around once again to find certain vendors, stages and meeting points that we would later rendezvous to watch bands together or mosh. Just as Light the Torch began to play it began to rain. The venue immediately called for the evacuation of all attendees as we were placed under severe weather watch. One man gave his comment on the matter saying this: “They did the right thing with the evacuation of the venue, it provided us plenty of time to evacuate and tend to our property in the campgrounds” Unfortunately, the rest of the day was canceled due to damage of the stages, vending booths and display screens. Many attendees were upset they didn’t get to see Tool play, some of which came from across the country. As the storm got worse, many began to tear down their camps and leave only to be turned around by security telling them several different ways to exit the venue. 

With talks of day 3 being scrapped completely we were surprised the damage from the storm had was picked up and all stages were up and operational along with every vendor aside from “The Music Experience”. The grounds were not as wet as expected and the weather was fair. The day proceeded as scheduled aside from +Live+ arriving late to the venue. After the sun went down and Epicenter drew to an end, Foo Fighters closed the night with an impressive and captivating show! All in all, Epicenter was a successful event and we look forward to next year!

Other quotes received from the event
SpooN Foy of IcoN Pit Crew: Epicenter, overall, was a success in my opinion. The main failures were simply the result of the infrastructure of such a small town. Paramount among these failures was the traffic. Bringing tens of thousands of vehicles in through a single lane road, to reach a parking lot with a single entrance, was catastrophic. There were friends of the Pit Crew that never even made it into the venue on day one, after having sat in traffic for over seven hours. And also friends that slept in their car in the parking lot, after sitting completely still until 4am. The next failure was lodging. There simply aren't enough hotels in the area to support an event of this size. The vast majority of people we knew that weren't camping, were driving 45 minutes or more each way. That being said, once (and if) you actually got into the venue, it was a great set-up, though not without a couple flaws. Lots of different food vendors including local food trucks, wide open space in between the stages, a huge Jack Daniel's shade tent to cool down in, plenty of portapotties placed conveniently... It was an excellent spread. That being said, the VIP area and accompanying fencing was terribly and inconveniently placed. It created an unnecessary choke point between the sound booth and the Monster Stage. The other flaw was the lack of labeling or signage on the stages. You just had to learn by trial and error which stage was which to figure out where bands would be playing.”

The Epicenter Fanzone: The Epicenter Fan Zone, a Facebook based page created by Gary Carota, aimed to providing up to date information to thousands of festival goers has played an instrumental role in Epicenter Festival 2019. Over the weekend we hosted hundreds of fans daily in the North RV Camping Grounds. As first time campers we found the grounds to be very accommodating and allowed us to interact freely with others. Upon entering Rockingham Village Thursday evening to watch Charlotte, NC based Killakoi we were amazed with the large selection of vendors and food options as well as a spacious area for everyone to gather with friends. Making our way into the festival grounds Friday afternoon the layout was well liked by many. Side by side small stages allowed fans an easier time between the bands. Shorter distance between the main stages was also a huge hit for many. We received great feedback from our fan base on everything from the venue to the talent as well as the camping aspect. We look forward to Epicenter 2020 and continuing to be the number one source for all information pertaining to the festival.

Jennifer Bowman: Epicenter 2019 was great! Huge turnout for the first weekend of the new North Carolina music festival. Lots of great bands came out this past weekend and put on some amazing shows for us all. Epicenter 2019 thank you for everyone that wore orange this past weekend to honor the loss of my daughter Allison Hodge. I [saw] a sea of orange in many pit videos and walking the grounds. Special thanks to FxckCancer for the beautiful 1000 custom Orange and Black bandannas. These guys do so much for children and adults of all ages. Bringing Awareness to this disease. Great genuine group. Thank you to Korn who ran Allison's moment of silence right before they came on stage and rocked out. Thank you to DWP who agreed to do this. This moment meant so much to me. To see my Rockstar on the big screens again was so epic in its own. I can't wait for Epicenter 2020!!!

Gary Filanowicz - Street Team

Feature Photo - Moshpit Jesus 

Photo Credit - Mark J. Schneider