Blue Ridge Rock Fest 2022: Day Three

It was BRRF Day Three! By this time, we had been monitoring the weather all weekend. So far, the stormy weather kept getting pushed back and we’ve had great weather. Yes, it was hot and humid, but not too bad. Today, the weather said rain and thunderstorms… Hopefully, we’ll get lucky and it will stay away. 

Kicking off our day off was Two Sides of Me on the Heart Support Stage. I’m just learning more about them, but definitely in the rotation now! We then headed down Hay Hill for Butcher Babies. I’ve only seen them at Dimebash performing a Pantera song. Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd are drop-dead gorgeous, badass women. I may have said this once or twice before…

…go see the bands you have not seen!

I was mesmerized by Butcher Babies. I might get hate for this comment, but I feel like some women in the metal scene may try to overcompensate because they feel they need to compete with the guys. These ladies are legit, straight-up and have real talent; they just are who they are — pioneers and an inspiration to other women. 

A few sprinkles from the sky were starting to drop. We hoped it held off the rest of the day as we caught a song of Upon a Burning Body. Not going to lie, the name kind of creeped me out, but they were awesome. We hiked up Hay Hill, which was getting a little slick with the light rain by then. Next up were Virginia boys, Municipal Waste on the Zyn Stage. During “Wave of Death”, we were supposed to crowd-surf to the stage and stage dive back, but at this festival, that wasn’t going to happen — the stage is way too far away! Kaiya ran up to crowd-surf, came back around, asked her friend if she wanted to go with her. She declined.

Fuck it, I’ll go!

I haven’t crowd-surfed since Kaiya was a baby (after losing my keys and my shoe during Bad Religion, I decided I should be a responsible mom and took a 20-year hiatus). Now, I’m crowd-surfing with my daughter!! It was one of the most awesome moments I had at the festival. Lead vocalist Tony Foresta said, “We have 37 more songs!” If you know, you know! It’s a Super Shredder event!

Adelitas Way was up next right next door on the Monster Energy Stage. If I had a band crush, it would be on lead vocalist, Rick Anthony DeJesus. I loved his look and what he had to say. Introducing their song “Ready for War (Pray for Peace)”, he said, “All the bad news we are fed is just noise. As long as we take care of one another, none of it matters.” It’s hard not to keep an eye on drummer Trevor Stafford doing stick tricks back there.

We ran up to catch a song by Hollow Front on the Heart Support Stage. They had a totally different look than their last tour with August Burns Red. They had Hawaiian shirts. Like I say, do something to make me remember you at a festival. Hawaiian shirts — I’ll remember! Apocalyptica is a trio of classically trained cellists and a jazz drummer from Finland.

They are phenomenal, so any time you have an opportunity to see them, go to the show!

We headed back over Hay Hill to catch Mushroomhead on the URW Stage. As we were standing there waiting for them to start, the rain really started coming down. Our cameras were covered, but we left our ponchos in the hotel. There was enough room under the stage for all of us photographers to hide out for a bit. Mushroomhead is one of my favorite bands to photograph and I’ve only had one other opportunity. They have costumes, masks and drums filled with water, splashing all over. 

This is where I was really torn for my festival schedule. Ice Nine Kills and Motionless in White on main stages and Queensryche, Fit For a King, From Ashes to New on the opposite side in pouring rain. We chose INK and MIW. Grateful for my photographer friend, Rusty with Metal Blur Media, he had extra rain ponchos for us.

It was pouring buckets!

During the INK set, the fans put their arms up in an X, which means someone is injured and needs medical help. Usually bands will stop the song and wait for the person to get help or get the signal all is good. We understand bands are in a different head space, with adrenaline flowing — especially INK with all their moving parts for their scenes. They did not stop for what seemed like a long time, but the reality is maybe a minute or two. They seemed pissed off for having to stop from our point of view. I think they are all good guys, so we were confused as to what was happening, but we hoped it was just frustration being in the zone and having to stop. The fan was okay and maybe they could see that. At the time, we were quite disappointed and confused, but we don’t know the whole story and I want to think they weren’t being dicks. 

We have seen Motionless in White many times this year… and every show is a little different. Sometimes it’s different makeup, different outfits and changes to the setlist. Their latest album Scoring the End of World is a brilliant, deep album topping the charts right now. We were standing in pouring rain and it was such a vibe — my favorite show of theirs so far!

Pierce the Veil was a blur. I really wanted to see them, but at this point, it had been pouring rain for awhile and we were sliding in mud. The photo pit had tons of random drunk people in it and it was just chaos. I did get a couple photos, but it was a rough one.

Kaiya had never seen GWAR; they are ‘that band’ that you have to experience at least once in your lifetime, so we booked it back over the wet Hay Hill to URW. I haven’t seen them since Oderus Urungus died in 2014 and I was curious to see Blothar the Berserker live. We stayed for a couple songs, heads falling off and ‘blood’ squirting on fans, before running back to the main stage to see I Prevail.

Between the rain, mud, overcrowded photo pits, I was fighting to stay in a good headspace. It was by far the most challenging few hours I’ve had as a photojournalist in the last 10 years.

Just keep pushing through; what doesn’t kill you makes you better and stronger. 

I Prevail just released their latest album True Power in August. The setlist was heavy with eight songs off this new album. Normally, I wouldn’t love that, especially at a festival, but that album is so fucking good, they killed it and fans loved it! Brian Burkheiser (doing the clean vocals) said he was hobbling around because of a knee injury from the previous show. I would have never known if he didn’t say anything; he was all over the stage with his energy. In one of the photos of Eric Vanlerberghe (unclean vocals), you can see the downpour of rain. They are currently on tour and selling out shows, so get your tickets! 

One of the bands that has been top of my photography bucket list is Slipknot. We were notified in the morning that we were not allowed to photograph their set from the photo pit or anywhere. Needless to say, we are all pretty disappointed, so we just enjoyed the show. The rain finally stopped for the most part, but I was exhausted, wet and cold. I found a spot on the hill and looked down at the stage with the massive crowd. Corey Taylor did stop the show several times for security to help a fan. They were mesmerizing to watch, there was so much going on with the deejays, percussion and all their costumes. I hope to catch them one more time and (hopefully) with a lens. With that, Day Three was a wrap! It was amazing, yet challenging! Day Four coverage coming soon!

Photography by Heather Vandemark

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