Review and photos by Lizzy Davis
Following the massive traffic issues on day one, the organizers of Epicenter announced that were working with the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the county’s highway patrol to arrange having a second lane open for inbound traffic. Whether it was thanks to that or because people arrived earlier in anticipation of delays, traffic didn’t seem so bad for day two of Epicenter. Even the weather seemed to look more favorable, starting out with warmer temperatures and less threatening skies.
A three piece band hailing all the way from New Zealand kicked off the performances on the Pine Stage at 12:25 p.m. Each member of Alien Weaponry has Maori ancestry ,and they incorporated some of the origins and language into their songs and lyrics. The band performed a heavy set with a unique vibe, setting the day off on the right foot.
American metal band Tetrarch and U.K. band SHVPES followed Alien Weaponry’s set. SHVPES is out on its first American tour ever, and the band members obviously were pumped to open the Quarry Stage at 1:35 p.m. The band has been gaining traction with its latest singles, “Undertones” and “Afterlife,” and the surprisingly large crowd seemed to be familiar with the songs, even singing along with them.
After retiring from Vampires Everywhere!, vocalist Michael “Vampire” Orlando formed Dead Girls Academy. The hardcore metal band seemed to draw a younger crowd to the Octane Stage for its set, and though there were a few technical issues with microphone crackling, neither band nor fans seemed to pay any mind to them.
Sylar followed with a solid mix of heavy and melodic tracks on the Quarry Stage before passing undivided attention to Badflower on the main stage. Badflower dropped a new record—its debut studio album—”OK, I’m Sick,” earlier this year and was more than ready to share the new material. The band opened with the album’s second single, “x ANA x,” and all but two songs in the set were from the new release. Halfway through the set, the crowd began an approving chant of “Badflower, Badflower!” Vocalist Josh Katz flashed a mocking grin at the audience and asked, “What are you chanting?!” The band went on to play “Heroin,” which just became its first official number one single. The highlight of Badflower’s set, however, always is the emotionally charged performance of “Ghost,” the lead single from the new album. The crowd gave an equally emotional response, with a huge round of applause and roaring cheers.
While supergroup The Damned Things was performing on the Quarry Stage, Wage War took over the Pine Stage. The metalcore band riled up fans with “Don’t Let Me Fade Away” and its latest single, “Low.”
Epicenter marked the final date of Motionless in White’s current tour, and it was ready to go out with a bang. The gothic metalcore band opened with “Rats” and stuck with only heavy tracks through the rest of the set, which was loaded with CO2 blasts and, surprisingly, pyro. Motionless in White is getting ready to release its fifth studio album, and the crowd got to hear its first two singlesk, “Disguise” and “Brand New Numb.”
While Light The Torch took over the Pine Stage, it was time to witness guitarist extraordinaire Zakk Wylde performing on the Quarry Stage with Black Label Society. Unfortunately, the band only made it through “Genocide Junkies” and “Funeral Bell” before its third song was interrupted. Wylde took to the mic to announce, “Folks, we gotta shut it down for a second.” The crowd began to boo, but a voiceover and the videoboards began projecting messages urging the crowd to exit the venue and seek shelter immediately.
As it turned out, a tornado warning had been issued just west of Rockingham and the evacuation was a necessity for safety reasons. Sure enough, rough winds and rain whipped through, hard enough that cars were rocking and even some of the tents in the campground were picked up and carried away. Epicenter was keeping attendees up to date via the festival app and official social media pages, and once the storm passed, they announced they would be surveying festival grounds to determine whether or not the show could go on.
Since Tool, one of the biggest acts of the entire weekend, was scheduled to headline Saturday night, fans were reluctant to leave early. The final decision dropped via social media at 7:30 p.m. Videos already had leaked from inside the venue showing damage to multiple vendor tents, video boards that had fallen from the main stage and even the entire Zippo Sessions stage collapsing. Although it surely was a difficult announcement for festival producers to make, it was clear the show would not and could not go on that night.
The news was a tough pill for many to swallow. Compounded with the traffic issues (which became an ordeal again that night as everyone rushed to exit the parking lot), some attendees decided to head straight home and not return on Sunday since the forecast was calling for more rain.