Epicenter Festival has been a disaster of severe weather, traffic nightmares, and canceled sets

With attendees trapped in poorly designed parking lots, performances from Tool and Judas Priest were canceled

Epicenter festival disaster severe weather canceled saturday traffic parking
Epicenter parking traffic, photo by Cody Clunan via Twitter/@P1Crunan

    Epicenter Festival was meant to be a replacement for Carolina Rebellion in Rockingham, North Carolina. However, as the event unfolded this weekend, it turned into more of a headache for fans.

    The problems began before the music even did. According to Raleigh NBC affiliate WRAL, attendees found themselves trapped in hours of grueling traffic just trying to enter the festival site. Ticket holder Kelly Tesh told the news channel she arrived within three miles of the festival around 5:00 p.m. on Friday via US Highway 1. After moving just one and a half miles in four hours, she and her companions decided to abandon their tickets and head home.

    It wasn’t any better for those who stuck it out and made it into the fest, either. There were numerous reports of parking lot mayhem while trying to exit the grounds after Friday’s show. An apparent lack of lighting, parking attendants, or security left cars trapped in chaos, some claiming they were stuck in park for over four hours. There’s even video of drunken attendees stepping up to direct traffic.

    Some got so frustrated with the wait that they actually cut a hole through the fencing around the parking lot, allowing cars to filter out through the gap.

    Epicenter posted on social media that they were adding more entrance lanes and directing exiting traffic towards one gate in order to alleviate the issues, but for some it was too little too late. The poor logistical design led to many ticket holders giving up on returning on Saturday — and they were the lucky ones. Severe weather moved in and forced a site evacuation ahead of the evening’s performances. Those who were camping were told to seek shelter in their vehicles, while those who were trying to exit were once again stuck in mayhem.

    The weather led to the cancelation of highly anticipated sets from Tool, Judas Priest, The Cult, and others. There was also major damage to the festival grounds, stages, and infrastructure, leading the opening of Sunday’s gates to be delayed some four hours. The forecast had long predicted inclement conditions for the festival days, but it seemed from the response and last-minute evacuation that organizers were perhaps not as prepared as fans would have liked.

    Adding insult to injury, many fans apparently were able to purchase last minute day passes for just $1. This understandably infuriated attendees who had dropped triple digits on weekend passes months earlier. As if it weren’t bad enough they had to miss the return of Tool.


    Despite the issues, Epicenter has continued on Sunday. The weekend will end — hopefully on a high note — with performances from Foo Fighters, bring me the Horizon, and… 311.

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