Blue Ridge Rock Fest 2022: Day Four

Day Four of a festival is always bittersweet: you are tired, maybe bruised, broke, but having the best time with your people, knowing the ‘after festival blues’ will kick in tomorrow.

Time to just soak in every last minute of amazing bands and being among friends. 

We started off the day with Otherwise, who appeared on my radar at Rebel Rock last year. I love their music, but also what they do for their community. They have donated 200 guitars through Life By Music and Gibson Gives. Check out their Instagram for more info on how to participate. Performing on September 11th was perfect for their song “Soldiers”; this song always hits my heart and gives me chills, and when they invited veterans onstage, add in the river of tears. This was an amazing way to start off the day. 

After battling the elements from the day before, we were tired and not feeling the Hay Hill hike today, so we were loving the main stages next to each other. Lacey Sturm, co-founder of Flyleaf, was next on the Monster Stage. She had a cute band of two couples. They did a prayer circle onstage before starting the set. She was so passionate… you could feel every word she sang. 

We were happy to see Nonpoint on the Zyn Stage. Last year, they had to cancel due to their trailer unhitching on the road. Drummer Rob Rivera has Animal (drummer from The Muppets) on his drum kit, which is a unique sideways setup. As a photographer, I loved it. I was curious why he does it, though. I happened to be wearing my Muppets band shirt… totally random, I swear!

The rain wasn’t quite finished and decided to shower us one last time during their set. 

Grandson was another one I’ve never seen and blew my mind. He is amazing! I missed Wage War last year at BRRF, but I have seen them five times in the last year and I love them more every time. Lead vocalist Briton Bond has crazy energy and power vocals. Cody Quistad seems like the quiet guy playing his guitar and then you realize it is him singing these beautiful, clean vocals. 

We decided to take one last hike over Hay Hill to see Silverstein and Baroness. Silverstein popped up on my Spotify list as ‘bands you may like’ and I had to see them. They are on fire right now, even playing the When We Were Young Festival in Vegas. 

I mentioned in my Day One recap about the ICoN Pit Crew: they have an amazing story, starting with the founder “SpooN” that is too long to tell here, but look them up! We talked to a few of them and they said they were compensated for their time, but they didn’t really care, because that’s what they do. They love to help people be safe AND enjoy the festival. I still can’t get over how they volunteered their bodies and their time to help the rest of the fans, when they were there to be a fan themselves. They brought the good vibes, smiles, dance moves, and even friendly competition of who was going to catch the most surfers all the way until the very last crowd-surfer crossed the rail. 

We got our wish to see Lamb of God on the main stage this year! Randy Blythe may have mentioned they are from Richmond… Let’s just say, if we were playing a drinking game and Richmond was the word, we would have been hammered. Fun fact: drummer Art Cruz just recently moved to Richmond from Los Angeles to be close to bandmates. Check out their latest album Omens, just released on October 7th, 2022. They closed out with “Laid to Rest” (cut short due to fan injury) and, of course, “Redneck”. 

Three Doors Down was up right next door on the Zyn Stage.

At first, I thought it was an interesting placement in lineup to put the band between Lamb of God and Disturbed, but it was great to have a moment to breathe in a little calmer energy and we were pretty impressed with how loud the fans were singing “Kryptonite”, “Here Without You”, and closer song, “When I’m Gone”.

One security person felt sorry for us having to go up the hill and around to get to the other stage, so she let us walk backstage. A black Sprinter van was rolling in… OMG. Disturbed! The last band of the festival. The hill was packed and the fans were still going strong even after four days! This was my first time seeing Disturbed live; it was one of the times I forgot I’m a photographer and needed to get the shot. I was just in awe for a minute. Opening with “Ten Thousand Fists”, “Inside the Fire”, and “Stupify”, lead vocalist David Draiman — in his long black coat — was looking sharp! I’m not sure how to describe in words how it felt seeing Disturbed live… “The Sound of Silence” was a moment I will never forget as all these flashlights lit up the Virginia International Raceway. The fans sang every word. With everything going on in the world, it was a feeling of unity, humanity, and compassion for one another that seems to be lost sometimes. I literally have chills and tears just remembering that feeling. It was bittersweet watching Disturbed walk offstage. 

And, just like that, Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2022 was a wrap! We had a blast, as always. All members of the ICoN Pit Crew are the heroes of the festival. We can choose to rip apart every single thing that went wrong or we can move forward. Every single festival has issues. I feel BRRF can easily address some of the issues and make it one of the best festivals in the country. What matters was to soak in all the experiences, the friendships, and the memories. That is what I will take away from BRRF and what really matters in the end.

BRRF is FAN-DRIVEN.

The fans vote on everything and the voting has already started for 2023. It is brilliant, because everyone wants to be a part of something and everyone has an opinion they want heard. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram and get in on the fun! See you in 2023!

Photography by Heather Vandemark

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