Friday, day 1: I arrived to Counterpoint Festival in Rome, GA just a bit after nightfall, and just in time to hear Pretty Lights begin. As I got out of the car and trudged through the dewy grass, up the hill to the venue entrance, the sound of my heart beating overpowered all other noises around me…or maybe it was the wicked bass vibrating through my body.
This was it-the moment I had been waiting for. As neon lights flashed across the dark evening sky, and the sound of hundreds, maybe thousands, of cheering fans filled my ears, I thought to myself,
“This is fate. My whole life must have been leading up to this one pivotal moment. Maybe this is it…my big break as a journalist, or perhaps this is that climatic epiphany moment were I realize my calling, my purpose, myself.”
I mean, it couldn’t be a simple coincidence that this festival, that these inspirational awe inspiring musicians are performing at the exact location where I spent so many years of my life waiting…for mom to pick me up, dad to drop me off, and vice versa. OK, not that we hauled ourselves 20 miles off of exit 293 into a remote field in the middle of nowhere to do the trade off, but this just so happens to be the midway point between Chattanooga and Atlanta where my parents chose to meet. Could it be that my life, up to this point, has been a countdown to Counterpoint Festival
Convinced that fate had brought me here, I raced through the entrance and into the crowd of sweaty fans swaying to “Total Fascination”, one of my all-time favorite Pretty Lights songs. Coincidence you say? I think not.
Neon glow sticks showered around me as I stood entranced by the scene before me. Bubbles floated over my head and the entire sky was illuminated by blue, green, purple lights flashing above me. A midnight rainbow. The ground glowed luminescent pink, orange, green, blue and purple under my muddy sneakers. And all around me electric pink tutu’s, bras, panties, and multicolored hula hoops seemed to float about in midair as if they were dancing on their own through the crowd. I reached down and grabbed a handful of glow sticks and quickly fashioned myself a necklace and headband, and danced my way to the stage. Up front, the air was thick with clouds of smoke…skunky smoke (if you know what I mean) but I couldn’t believe how close I was.
Roughly 20 people, a few security personnel, and a short metal barrier stood between me and one of my favorite artists of all time. I tried to capture every moment on camera and video. I didn’t want to miss a single beat. Two hours of Pretty Lights passed by in the blink of an eye and before I knew it, the music ended, the lights faded away, and bright eyed fans drifted away from the stage. But not me. Dazed, I stumbled my way right up to the barrier, determined to grab a close up on camera. Mission accomplished.
I perused through the tents of different food vendors, impressed with the variety offered. From vegetarian, to vegan, tacos, jambalaya, BBQ, Chinese, and the all American burger, this festival welcomed anyone and everyone. A few feet away, colorful hammocks beckoned to weary festival-goers, while a carnival in the distance-no joke, with a Ferris wheel and all- enticed many others. I followed the majority of the crowd to another stage to see Krewella perform. What a show that was, a dance show more like it.
I felt like I was in an outdoor club with a bada$$ DJ mixing hardcore techno beats. I had to push my way through the rowdy crowd of people jumping around to get as close as I could. Pushing further and further forward, I somehow, rather unfortunately, found my way into a mosh pit. It only took a few moments before I gathered my bearings and the mosh really began. Thirst drew me out of the Krewella crowd just in time to catch the
last bit of Boys Noize at the next stage over.
Leaving the intense club-esque scene at Krewella, I weaved my way into a completely different dimension. The rave scene at Boys Noize was less intense, and at the same time more intense, in a different way. The atmosphere was full of energy, excitement, and originality. Boys Noize quickly drew a huge crowd, and ended the night with a bang. Literally…the bass was so intense that I felt my insides banging against my ribcage. It was amazing. Exhausted from dancing the night away, I made my way home – anxious for more.
As I drove down for the last day of CounterPoint, I prepared myself for what was sure to be my wildest experience yet…Outkast…and I completely underestimated it. What I thought was going to be a monster crowd turned out to me a mammoth crowd. I spent 45 minutes sitting in a line of cars waiting to park. With every inch I went forward, I became more and more aggravated. I could hear music blaring in the distance but couldn’t get to
it. It was torture. And I can’t forget the anxiety, oh the anxiety I felt watching the minutes tick by. Yeah I had missed the rain…great. But I was missing the show! Several of the cars waiting in line just pulled off into the grass and made their own parking spot. I watched group after group of people walk by and wondered if they knew they’d signed up for at least a two mile walk to the venue…
When I finally parked I half ran a quarter of a mile to get in only to find thousands of people staring at a dark empty stage. It was 10:50 pm and Outkast was supposed to start at 10…where were they?? After talking to a young couple, dirty from camping all weekend, I was relieved to hear that all acts had been delayed two hours because of the rain. Overcome with excitement, I jumped up and down screaming “THANK YOU FOR RAIN!” at the top of my lungs. I wasn’t surprised when no one seemed shocked. I’m sure they’d seen far stranger over the course of the weekend.
I looked at the time on my phone and I had exactly 10 minutes to make my way as close to the stage as possible. Well that was an impossible feat. I had to give up pushing halfway to the front because there was literally no more room for a single other person in front of me. Packed like sardines…skunky smelling sardines. As I waited, claiming my space, I noticed the man in front of my flashing an oversized flashlight every so often in what seemed to be a pattern. I had my suspicions that he was undercover security, although he shook his head no BUT smiled when I asked.
The second Outkast took the stage all of us packed sardines went completely insane yelling and screaming with excitement. Pop, pop, pop, everywhere I looked someone was popping up out of the crowd on the shoulders of someone else. Beach balls, more glow sticks, and now people went flying over my head. I scanned around and noted a possible escape route to my right, just in case it got too out of hand. As the speakers blared, people around me passed canteens, filled with what I don’t know, back and forth jumping and thumping to the beat.
With 15 minutes to go before Flux Pavilion and Tycho started at the other stages, I made use of my escape route. Walking toward the midway entrance where the carnival began and the campers were making their way in and out, I sang along to “Caroline” as it played behind me and looked through the different vendor tents with hand crafted clothing and listened to people gripe about the high price of cigarettes and at home drug tests at the convenience store tent….really people???
Flux Pavilion and Tycho were the last acts of the night, the last acts at CounterPoint Festival 2014, and they were scheduled to play at the same time! So I had to choose…and I chose Flux Pavilion and what an amazingly awesome choice that was. I danced and jumped and screamed and then laughed at the man next to me wearing nothing but a light up, cheetah print speedo and a bow tie. PRICELESS! The whole festival was priceless, and I sucked in every moment of it. CounterPoint was a come as you are, be who you are
experience. It was an opportunity of a lifetime for me to see these amazing artists and to unite and connect with so many people through the music. And it filled my soul.
– Elizabeth Jones
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