A long-awaited post-pandemic escape, The Blue Ridge Rock Fest was back for a five-day, jammed-packed music spectacle! Located deep in the great state of Virginia at the Virginia International Raceway showcasing acts from all over the globe resurfacing their 5th Annual “Fan-driven, Fan-curated festival.”

With stellar lineups of bands like Slipknot, Disturbed, Ghost, Mudvayne, and Ice Cube, to name a few, performing during the festival while also having campsite after parties before the festival and throughout the rest of the days, the party at Blue Ridge never stopped!

The festival included five different stages scattered throughout, and luckily, Blue Ridge released the band schedules early. If you have never been, get ready to get them STEPS IN because you’ll be walking a marathon by the end of the fest. The stages included the Monster Energy, Zyn, URW, The Fan Driven, and Heart Support Stage.

While there were many bands that we checked out, we missed quite a few. The BEST stand-out performance was by Ice Cube. Right out of the gate, you know Cube has the fans’ attention and all the artists on break. What an amazing show at the URW. The heaviest band we’ve witnessed was by Wage War, though we were extremely impressed with Slaughter to Prevail, (Hed) P.E., Terror, and more from URW and Heartsupport Stages.

We are lucky enough to have many large music festivals in this country. Blue Ridge Rock Festival is one of the largest. It is also one of the youngest festivals and most potent, with powerhouse line-ups over consecutive days.

With headliners such as Mudvayne, Slipknot, Disturbed, Ghost, and many more national headliners. What separates this festival from many others is not just the variety of genres of music but the fact that this is truly a fan-driven experience; concert-goers are allowed to vote on the line-up every year.

The result of this is a diverse group of people brought together by their love of music where the only politic was to decide which band to go see; the only struggle was to make it up the hill for the other stages. 

At times I couldn’t help but think this is amazing. Given our times after Covid-19 and political tensions, there was never a better time for a festival like this to blend our country over the love of fantastic music truly. I’ve had the privilege of shooting at a few large festivals, and I have no problem telling you this is my favorite, Not just because of the line-up but because of the fans.

Being a fan of all different genres of music, I can truly appreciate a mixed bag of music and the fans that come with it. There are few places where you could catch Ice Cube and Alice Cooper with A Day To Remember just over the hill. I have to be honest; I read many reviews from years prior and anticipated absolute confusion, long lines, horrible parking, and not nearly enough bathrooms. Still, I was dead wrong in having this assumption. 

The only line that I witnessed was long was the shuttle to offsite parking and camping. I never had to wait in line for a bathroom and to get food. It was comparable to waiting for a beer at a football game, so not long on top of that, the pricing of anything was on par with any other festival or large event.

They had multiple water bottle filling stations, which, if you go to any other festival, are a 4-8 dollar purchase at any large event. The bottom line is we have to be realistic. It is a logistical nightmare to put on a festival of this magnitude. It is clear that the organizers listened to the fans and understood and adjusted, and in most cases, addressed grievances; for the most part, they have achieved further, making Blue Ridge a fan-driven experience, which further proves their commitment to their fans.

The fact that they heard and adjusted shows their commitment to making Blue Ridge a fan-driven experience. I could scratch off many of my bucket list artists not just shooting but watching their performances.

One of the coolest things I could see was Southern Maryland’s very own Any Given Sin kick-off on day three on one of the main stages of one of the country’s largest festivals. 

This was a dominating performance. Which wasn’t a surprise to me with performing tracks such as Insidious, Dynamite, and their newest single, Still Sinking. Further showing the rock/metal community that they are a force to be reckoned with. However, they weren’t the only Maryland band that brought it at Blue Ridge.

Silver Tongue, a Baltimore band, also crushed it. Even though those artists stood out to me because they are close to home, I believe they all were amazing. I can guarantee you this whether I am covering or not, I will be at Blue Ridge 2023.

Even though there were bands that we were extremely impressed with and also bands that we missed due to the EXTREME choices of bands from the Fest, all the bands that we saw were AWESOME.

The support we received from Blue Ridge and the Security Teams was top-notched and on top of things; although we heard the lines for the buses near the beginning were extremely long, overall, the Fest was a huge success!

Like many other fans, I believe this is my festival, and as the title suggests, this is less like a festival and more like an experience.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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  1. As another southern Marylander who was at Blue Ridge this year – it was amazing! I felt spoiled with the number of incredible acts, and relatively low ticket price.

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