In the end, the fans at Carolina Rebellion proved to be more hard-core than the bands they’d come to see and festival organizers.
The two-day festival in Concord came to a muddy and abrupt end about 8 p.m. Sunday, nearly three hours before the festival was supposed to end with headliner Soundgarden.
Throughout the day, the thousands of fans who attended had grown frustrated with performances delayed by rain and growing puddles on the festival’s three stages.
“Rain or Shine. Rain or Shine,” the crowd chanted as word spread that the first band of the day, Nonpoint, had canceled.
But by 3:30 p.m. when Hollywood Undead took the Carolina Stage, it looked like the day had turned around.
Fans’ enthusiastic head-bobbing was unmistakable, even under the baggy, bright ponchos where many of them had taken cover. People were even beginning to crowd surf and toss around a beach ball again.
Hollywood Undead’s band members seemed to be having just as much fun, with the drummer grinning as he whipped his long, rain-soaked hair around while playing “Another Way Out.”
“You guys are ... awesome for hanging out in the rain,” one of the band mates said to the crowd during their set.
The next band, Red Line Chemistry, also helped boost the crowd’s morale with their lively and energetic performance on the Jagermeister Stage.
Halfway through Red Line Chemistry’s set, the rain had stopped. And despite the sloppy, muddy mess that had become the Carolina Rebellion festival grounds, fans were amped up as they headed over to hear Sevendust next.
“Can you feel the energy right now?” said Lajon Witherspoon, the lead singer of Sevendust. “Thank you guys for feeding my soul.”
Fans had begun chanting “The true Rebellion is out tonight,” pleased with themselves for braving the elements to see their favorite bands.
After Sevendust, the concert schedule became increasingly unstable.
Volbeat, the next band expected to perform, cancelled. Then Buckcherry came on more than an hour ahead of schedule, opening with a crowd-rousing performance of “Lit up.”
Buckcherry’s performance of “Crazy B----” nearly an hour later would end up being the last song of the night (and of Carolina Rebellion 2013), but nobody knew that yet.
Instead, the dedicated fans shuffled over to the Carolina Stage, where they waited for more than an hour in the falling temperatures and steady rain before an official came on stage to tell them the rest of the show had been canceled.
The official emphasized that organizers had done everything they could to keep the festival going. He also told fans to keep their stubs and visit www.carolinarebellion.com soon because “we want to take care of you.”
Carolina Rebellion is organized by a partnership between AEG Live and Right Arm Entertainment.
But it’s doubtful many of the fans heard what he was saying because at that point, people had started booing, flinging beer cans toward the stage and walking toward their cars.
It was an unfortunate end to a weekend that had begun with such levity and enthusiasm on Saturday with performances by Alice in Chains, Limp Bizkit, Deftones and others.
But by Sunday evening, the festival’s final impression on fans only left them cold, wet and disappointed.