Stagehands Speaks About Blue Ridge Rock Festival Conditions – ‘They Had a Hot Mess on Their Hands’
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."
- Photos + Video - Fans Document Disastrous 2023 Blue Ridge Rock Festival
- Attendees share photos and videos of the conditions at the festival, ranging from overflowing trash, filth-covered facilities, shuttle delays, campsite conditions and more.
- Storm Wreacks Havoc As Blue Ridge Rock Festival Calls for Evacuation, Attendees Lodge Complaints
- Sept. 7 night of event canceled due to severe weather, fans struggle to evacuate + encounter hours-long wait times for shuttle buses.
- Blue Ridge Rock Festival Canceled Due to Severe Weather, Fans + Bands React
- Festival officially cancels remainder of event on Sept. 9, cite "continued severe weather." Fans and bands react to the news.
- Tour Manager Shares Video Describing Experience at 'Unsafe' Blue Ridge Rock Festival
- Electric Callboy tour manager "Tank the Tech" shares a 30-plus minute video recollecting his experience at Blue Ridge Rock Festival and why he felt it was so unsafe for bands, crew members, fans and other personnel.
- What's Going on With Blue Ridge Rock Fest? Reports Address Various Rumors, Complaints
- Local news reports speak with representative of the festival venue, health department, sheriff's office and more. A meteorologist analyze's the weekend's weather and a lawyer asks open-ended questions. The issues addressed concern safety procedures, a reported stagehand strike, capacity, health violations, refunds and more.