8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival

A couple of weekends ago, I went to the inaugural Epicenter Music Festival [RIP Carolina Rebellion] in Rockingham, NC. It was my first time camping at a music festival and I really enjoyed the chance to experience it. Even though much of the festival was shut down due to severe weather, I met all kinds of cool people and also some weirdos as one typically does at any public event. It was definitely the music festival where I learned the most and I wanted to share these things below for those of you who may be venturing out to your own festivals this summer.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival

I Really Dig Motionless In White – I had never heard of the band, “Motionless In White” before this festival. But they looked cool and I thought I would catch their show and see what I thought. When they started singing “Necessary Evil,” I was like what…. they totally sampled Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party.” I really enjoy when acts do that and do it well. So, when I got home, I listened to that song a few more times and have to say, I really like it. Though I didn’t get to see many acts at Epicenter Music Festival, Motionless In White was definitely my favorite.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival
Rob Zombie [photo courtesy Darren Menius]

It’s Better To Bring Your Own Bathroom Facilities To A Festival – Porta potties are naaaaaaasty. And they are even nastier when people have been drinking. Waking up in the middle of the night having to pee is bad enough. But how many of you can guarantee you can walk like a mile away to the nasty porta potty before you have an accident? That doesn’t seem like a game I want to play. Also, showers at Epicenter Music Festival were $10 each. Mama don’t have that kind of dough. So solutions needed to be found.

I avoided all this drama by bringing my own way to bathe and use the restroom thanks to my friends at Bass Pro Shops! I had a really cool set up with the PUP [Portable Pop Up Tent] so the bathroom facilities weren’t in my tent. It was super easy to set up – I did it all by myself in just a few minutes. I staked it down and it held up great when the storm hit [more on that in a minute], receiving no damage at all.

Inside the pop up tent, I had a Cabela’s Camp Commode Camping Toilet. It just unfolds and you hook a bag under the bottom and go. I used the WAG Bag Kit. These bags are filled with something similar to kitty litter, I imagine, that turns whatever you do into a solid. When you are done, just throw the bag in the trash and that’s that. No getting lost in the middle of the night, trying to find a porta potty.

I highly recommend getting one of these set ups from Bass Pro Shops. Check out the rest of their camping gear and please let me know of other great camping supplies that this novice camper needs to pick up for my next music festival.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival
Photo courtesy Darren Menius

I Should Have Left My House Earlier – Epicenter Music Festival officially started on Friday [5/10] but you could get to the camp site on the Thursday before and take part in pre-festival fun [music, etc]. I fully intended to leave bright and early Thursday morning to head to Rockingham, but my neighbor was getting a roof put on her house and the noise was driving my dogs nuts so I didn’t want to leave them like that.

I finally left my house about noon on Friday. And this was a decision I would later regret. I stopped to pick up some things on the way and ended up making it to within 5 miles of the festival at 3:15pm, where traffic came to a complete stand still. By the time I got to Will Call to pick up my media passes and then to the camp site, it was 10:30 pm that night! I could have still seen Korn, but I was just too tired to bother at that point. I still had a fun day, though, as people seemed pretty chill in the stand still traffic. Several people were just walking around, chatting it up with others still in their cars. So I wasn’t “alone” for 7 hours. But it would have been better had I made better decisions. Though I have been to music festivals in the past, this was my first time camping, and this was a learning experience in better time management and decision making.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival
Killswitch Engage [photo courtesy Darren Menius]

There Is No Good Way Into Epicenter Music Festival – Having said that about my poor time management skills, I want to add that there is only one road into the festival grounds. One. So, of course, it wasn’t all my fault it took so long to get into the festival. I have seen many, many people talk about how Epicenter Music Festival should have planned for this traffic. I have to say though, this festival is at Rockingham Speedway. If they never worked on building better infrastructure when the race was still there, I am doubting they will now, so this may just be what we have to work with. So, again, it comes back to me leaving the house earlier.

Female Solo Travel Is Awesome – I set up my own tent [except for the top part – a kind gentleman in the tent next to mine got that for me]. It was my first time setting it up and I was making a simple mistake so I anticipate no more problems here forward. I packed my own car. I set up my own shower tent. I drove myself to the festival and took care of myself the entire weekend. All of this I did by myself, without having to wait on anyone else who might be late, without having to worry about what someone else wants to do, without having to think about anyone else at all. I have to admit, it was one of the most fun trips that I have ever taken because I could just do whatever I wanted without worrying about someone else and their needs the entire time. I just did me.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival
Photo courtesy Darren Menius

Always Strap Your Tent Down – When I set my tent up Saturday morning, it was beautiful and sunny. I am not an experienced camper [yet] so I consulted one of my neighbors asking if I should stake the tent down. He said that he didn’t feel that I needed to if I had heavy things inside weighing it down. So, I had a cooler in there a few other things and I thought that would be ok. It was not.

When the storm hit later that night, I almost lost my tent. Seriously, I caught it just as it was about to fly away. I then got out of my car [all this in the middle of the storm, of course] and tied the tent to my car door. Then I had to hang my arm outside of my car for like 10 minutes holding on to one of the tent rods to make sure it didn’t go adios. I have to say, my tent, given all of my idiocy [aka learning experience] held up like a beast! It suffered no damage at all! I highly recommend the Coleman 5-Person Instant Dome Tent for any of you inexperienced campers like me. You will make mistakes. You want the tent that can take it. Trust.

Frozen Apples Are The Bomb – I packed all of my own food for Epicenter Music Festival. Trying to keep in mind that things need to stay cold to last, I decided to freeze some apple slices before packing them in the cooler. I am not a huge apple fan, but I will definitely freeze some for my camping trips in the future. They are ridiculously tasty and refreshing on a hot day. Apples are WAY better frozen. Yum.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival
Foo Fighters [photo courtesy Darren Menius]

There Is No Safe Place When Severe Weather Strikes – Epicenter Music Festival was evacuated on Saturday night due to incoming severe weather. I have to admit, the sky didn’t look all that threatening when the warning came over the loud speakers, cutting off Black Label Society about 2 songs in. But I did as I was told, evacuating the festival and going back to my car as instructed.

Then all hell broke loose. Some say we had a tornado nearby. I don’t know about all that, but I do know that we had one crazy thunderstorm. I spent 10 or so minutes holding onto my tent for dear life while many others weren’t so lucky. There are some people who are now blaming Epicenter Music Festival for their inability to see bands [i.e. Tool] later that night. Personally, I am not going to die to see anyone. I really, really, really wanted to see Bush, who was supposed to play in the time slot during the evacuation but that’s the way it goes. Perhaps I will get my chance some other time.

I feel like if you are at a music festival [or any huge gathering of people] you are choosing to take certain risks. That’s just the way it is. Epicenter Music Festival can’t control the weather anymore than I can. And, even if I were at home, I couldn’t guarantee my safety if a tornado struck. It’s just reality. If we can’t live with this, then perhaps a music festival isn’t the place for us.

Check out my interview with 311’s Nick Hexum here.

Check out more of Darren Menius’ pictures from Epicenter Music Festival here.

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311’s Nick Hexum Talks New Album “Voyager” & Epicenter Music Festival

311's Nick Hexum Talks New Album "Voyager" & Epicenter Music Festival

Epicenter Music Festival is next week and 311 will be there, bringing massive hits like “Down” and “All Mixed Up” and perhaps new material off of their upcoming album, “Voyager” (out June 28). Singer and guitarist, Nick Hexum, talks to us today about their new album, the origin of their name, Epicenter Music Festival and much more.

311’s Nick Hexum Talks New Album “Voyager” & Epicenter Music Festival

EPR: 311 got their name due to a streaking incident involving one of the then bandmembers, that got him arrested. Was it a dare? Did his buddies come to his rescue or just let him think about what he had done?

Nick Hexum: Well, only P-Nut was there but as I understand it, it was daytime shenanigans because there was no school that day.  It was spring and the pool was closed.  Someone was dared to jump the fence and skinny dip. He got caught and was brought home to mom, naked, cuffed, and given a “311” ticket!  (“311″ being Omaha police code for “indecent exposure”).

311's Nick Hexum Talks New Album "Voyager" & Epicenter Music Festival

EPR: 311 has been around for many years when the majority of bands that were coming up about the same time are long gone. What is your secret to not losing that artistry and creativeness that makes it still possible to perform and make quality music?

Nick Hexum: For me, I work hard to keep that sense of wonder about exploring new music. That means you keep exposing yourself to new stuff and not become the grumpy old guy that only likes the old stuff. We stay excited about music and that makes it exciting to listen to. Cannabis helps keep that youthful sense of wonder!

EPR: Early in your career, 311 lost all of their equipment in an RV fire. How did you not just say “forget this!” and pack it up then?

Nick Hexum: Because we had a gig the next night! And then like six more left on the tour. So, we just needed to borrow instruments and amps to get through it. We rented a car on my credit card and made it back home. Then, I found a guy to lend us money to buy a much safer RV and some new gear.  Our record company didn’t offer to help us so we had to do it ourselves.  That’s ok they got their comeuppance. But no, we never considered giving up. We were having way too much fun!

EPR: What can you tell us about your new album, “Voyager” coming out later this year?

Nick Hexum: I feel it is another exciting step forward. We boldly go into some new territory! I think the title “Voyager” is quite fitting because we see ourselves as musical explorers.

EPR: Do you hang around to watch the other bands at music festivals?

Nick Hexum: Yes, we’ve made so many great friends with other bands. I love to watch other bands to get inspired. There is some kick-ass heavy music on Epicenter Fest!

Catch 311 at Epicenter Music Festival [5/11] and check out the rest of their tour dates here.

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