It’s been a while since I’ve embarked on a major road trip with The Shack Band. We used to tour full-time and, at one point, were playing four to five shows a week all over the East Coast. While those days are definitely behind us, it was amazing being back out on the open road with four of my best friends playing some rock shows. Here’s a recap of the weekend that was:
THURSDAY, JUNE 16th, 2016 | US NATIONAL WHITEWATER CENTER | CHARLOTTE, NC
If you’ve never been to the USNWC in Charlotte, I highly recommend it. It’s a 1,100 acre outdoor adventure mecca that’s most notably known for its man made whitewater rafting. However, during the warmer months, the venue also hosts free regionally touring music on Thursdays and Saturdays and nationally touring acts for big festivals like Tuck Fest and Brew Stash Bash. The stage is literally on an island surrounded by class III – V rapids. The entire time we played, people were zip lining across the front of the stage. (The picture below was taken from one of the zip line platforms.)
We ended up playing two 75 minute sets in 95 degree weather and 100 % humidity to a 2,000 person crowd. We were shocked that the heat didn’t deter people from coming out AND sticking around. There was even a guy front and center trumpeting through a conch shell after every song. Needless to say, we were completely exhausted after a long travel day and a scorching hot show. All around, we had a great time at one of our favorite outdoor venues.
FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2016 – RIVERBEND FESTIVAL – CHATTANOOGA, TN
We pulled into Chattanooga after a six hour drive and went straight to the Riverbend Festival artist check-in at the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel. As is the case with many a rock band, we were running a bit late. We off loaded our gear into a 15 passenger van and went straight to the festival.
Once we arrived, we found ourselves right next to the Tennessee River with a breathtaking view of all the boats headed to the Coke Stage (Shovels & Rope was playing with REO Speedwagon on deck). The Coke Stage (main stage) is literally a giant barge floating in the middle of the river. Boaters had better views than the folks who were on shore but they had several Jumbotrons broadcasting the show around the festival so it was easy to take it all in. We played our set to a fun, but relaxed crowd (our stage was under a giant tent so it was one of the few shady spots at the festival) and then called it an early night.
SATURDAY, JUNE 18, 2016 – RIVERBEND FESTIVAL – CHATTANOOGA, TN
We all woke up fresh at Chattanooga’s finest La Quinta Inn and Suites. Today was my birthday and the guys wanted to celebrate. We went and sampled some of the local fare at a spot called Stirred inside the Chatanooga Choo Choo Hotel. They gave us our own private room complete with UEFA Euro Championship soccer on a 60-inch flat screen. After multiple plates of shrimp and grits and some local craft beer, it was time to hit the pool for some R & R before the final set of the weekend.
Fast forward a few hours and we’re en route to catch fellow Richmond, VA based band The Congress at the TVFCU Stage before our set. It’s always awesome when you get to hang with familiar faces/like-minded souls so far away from home. This stage was unique as well. Assembled piece by piece underneath a bridge in a natural amphitheater, it was the hidden gem of the entire festival and several Richmond based bands played on it. According to our stage manager, Mr. Ray, the only rock ‘n’ roll bands at the entire festival were the ones hailing from Richmond. It was high praise, and we ran with it.
After The Congress played, we closed out the stage to a rowdy crowd of hula hoopers and folks who just wanted to get away from the huge crowds at the Coke stage. We had an amazing time playing and got to ride through the festival several times on golf carts during a 25-minute fireworks display (we forgot some gear at the stage and had to turn around). Not a bad way to close out the weekend!
After nine hours in the van the following day, we made it back to Richmond in one piece. We had a blast overall and would highly recommend checking out both of these venues if you find yourself in the Southeast next June.