In the weeks after the abrupt end to this year’s Blue Ridge Rock Festival, which was canceled part-way through it’s four-day weekend on Sept. 9, more information continues to come to light. Earlier this week, Alton, Virginia’s WSLS spoke with two stagehands about the conditions and the “hot mess” the situation overall had become.
Attendees and various festival personnel had previously documented what they saw and experienced on-site, ranging from overflowing garbage, filth-covered bathroom and shower facilities, hours-long waits for shuttle buses, inadequate space to shelter during a storm evacuation, weather-ravaged campsites, insufficient water facilities, parking issues, worker strikes and more.
It later came to light that the Virginia Department of Health uncovered an unspecified amount of health violations, while the sheriff’s office put attendance estimates between 50,000 and 60,000 people after being informed 45,000 tickets were sold. Attendees also remain in the dark regarding potential refunds.
Now, two stagehands have come forward to relay their own experiences working for the festival.
What Did the Stagehands Say About Blue Ridge Rock Festival?
”Of all of the hard work that we do, it was like we were devalued,” stagehand Justin Sirry tells WSLS in a report from earlier this week.
Stagehand Devon Taylor provided the local news outlet with footage of the living conditions. “Immediately [I was] just greeted with the smell of mold. It was dilapidated and run down,” he claims as the video report (seen here) shows a clip of the shower and bathroom area designated for workers.
Taylor also alleges that the showers were often inoperable.
Disputing Blue Ridge Rock Festival’s explanation that the festival was canceled on Saturday, Sept. 9, due to “continued severe weather,” Taylor contends that a staffing issue figured into the decision.
“The combination of us, the security, just the complete degradation of the event itself, they were realizing that they had a hot mess on their hands and it was not going to be able to continue,” Taylor claims.
Prior to the cancelation, stagehands struggled to properly get things set up on the festival grounds, according to Taylor.
This notion is corroborated in a recap video published by Electric Callboy tour manager Tank the Tech, who described logistics issues and lack of necessary equipment to cycle bands and crews in and out of the backstage areas to ready their performances. He called the event “unsafe” and argued, “People need to be held accountable in this business. I am so fucking tired of things happening where nobody has any accountability… The fans were treated horribly. The crews were treated horribly. The staff, the bands — nobody should have to experience this, ever.”
“It took them til almost noon, the festival, to even get a water source out to us, and we’re out there in an unseasonably hot week of September,” Taylor alleges, also calling for accountability. “More accountability in this industry. It’s not just Blue Ridge Rock Fest. I mean this was the cherry on the cake, but there’s no accountability for when these things happen,” the stagehand says.
He, too, puts the fans in focus, wrapping up, “At the end of the day, we do this for the fans. This is what we love this is what we breathe. We eat and breathe this stuff.”
15 Most Disastrous Music Festivals in History
Here are some of the most disastrous music festivals in history, many of which proved unacceptably arduous for attendees, but a handful of others that unfortunately turned tragic. You might remember many of these instances — others you may not know about yet. Keep reading to find out.