Amid the rolling hills and the wooded stands of Poplar, Pine and Oak trees a litmus test was forming last Thursday, 11 September at Blue Ridge Amphitheater in Danville, VA. The relative peace and quiet of Pittsylvania County was about to be ripped asunder by the opening chords of the first of the one hundred sixty eight bands scheduled to appear on six stages spanning only four days. Amidst all the food tents, bars, camping & glamping sites, the Hellzapoppin circus sideshow, islands of port-o-lets and hand washing stations promoters, bands and fans from around the country are holding their collective breaths.
While the promoter, Purpose Driven Events, had addressed the myriad of preparations to include security, law enforcement, traffic control, shuttle services, code compliance, food and drink, and sanitation there was one small thing that they couldn’t plan for. They had no way of knowing whether an uninvited guest would choose to raise its insidious head. Covid and the Delta variant has been all the talk in local and national news and despite the constant confusion coming out of CDC, one thing is abundantly clear, COVID is not going away anytime soon. Are you vaccinated or not vaccinated? Does wearing a mask mitigate the possibility of contracting any variant? If you have had covid are you safer than someone vaccinated? The simple answer is yes, and no.
These are some of the questions that a sold out crowd of 160,000 concert goers (from as far away as New York and Florida based solely on license plates I saw) that many aren’t worried about. While they could basically be walking, partying Petri dishes which could determine the concert schedule for the foreseeable future, the number of infected may not be known.
Despite these concerns the concert goers that took advantage of the opening days lower numbers were treated to the pounding sounds of more than two dozen bands plus “Black Label Society”, “P.O.D.”, and “The Ghost Inside” before the sun had even set and the last crowd surfer was escorted out of the pits. Once the lights had come up and the darkness had set-in “Skillet”, “A Day to Remember”, “Halestorm” and finally “Breaking Benjamin” took to their assigned stages.
The festival lineup was a collection of rock and metal luminaires including Rob Zombie, 5 Finger Death Punch, Anthrax, Megadeth, Cypress Hill, Bush, Shinedown, Mastodon, Papa Roach, Seether, Suicidal Tendencies, Chevelle, The Offspring, Sevendust and more than a hundred more that took to a total of six stages starting everyday at Noon.
The horseshoe layout of the festival grounds was set in a way that a concert goer could literally follow the music from one stage to another with minimal movement and hassle. With this many bands there is band “over-lap” but it didn’t create the problems that you might see with 3 stages facing one another as seen at other festivals. Another advantage of this site was the natural rise in elevation. A visitor could walk away from the three main stages and after a short walk up a gentle sloping hill, take a seat in the grass with an unobstructed view of the main stage and enjoy Rob Zombie..
Despite some local naysayers and doom merchant’s negative visions of packed hospitals, the four day show appeared to come off without many hiccups. Yes, there some minor opening day issues but from my narrow window the MUSIC IS BACK BABY!!
Pics and Review by Douglas White