Rocktoberfest IV: Annual alternative music festival sees its best year yet

Photo credit: Cailee Stein from Savannah Show Photography
Being As An Ocean -Photo credit: Cailee Stein from Savannah Show Photography

By Logan Stewart, Staff Writer

On Oct. 11, the Skatepark of Charleston was taken over by more than 20 bands and hundreds of music lovers to celebrate the fourth annual Rocktoberfest music festival. Featuring bands like Norma Jean, Emery, and Gideon, fans experienced the alternative music event’s most successful year thus far.

Beginning at 11 AM, attendees from all over Charleston and the surrounding areas, many traveling from Savannah, flooded into the park to enjoy twelve hours of punk, rock, and metal music taking place between two stages.

This is the first year that the festival has been held in Charleston – every year prior, it has taken place in Savannah. However, due to the lack of a viable Savannah venue, Savannah show promoter Timothy Burnsed worked with Charleston promoters Brian Buchanan and Paul Taylor to keep the event alive by holding it in a different city.

Burnsed, the man behind Ascendancy Media Group, stated that he was not yet ready to let the idea die. Rather than giving up on what has been an extremely successful event, he decided to think outside of the box and thus the Charleston branch of Rocktoberfest was born.

However, the change of scenery did not mean a lack of Savannah-based bands. Hardcore outfits Without and Coastlines, indie rock band Any Otherwise, and metalcore hard hitters like At Heart and Me and the Trinity are all Savannah bands that were a part of this year’s lineup.

The bassist of Me and the Trinity, Ryan Flannery, commented on his participation in the festival. “Norma Jean is one of my all-time favorite bands, and they are definitely one of the biggest influences on me as musician,” Flannery said. “It feels unreal to be sharing the stage with a group of people I have looked up to for so long.”

Flannery has been an attendee of the festival every year since its inception, and has been a part of its lineup for the past two years. Being known for his wild antics on stage, Flannery’s stage presence provides an example of what a Rocktoberfest crowd is like; Stage diving was not at all uncommon, and some of the better-known bands experienced pile-ups of fans shouting their lyrics.

Between the stage dives and crowd surfing, headlining band Gideon was open for a discussion of the festival and its evolution.

“This is our third time playing. It’s awesome; every year has been held at smaller venues and this year it’s a lot bigger,” Vocalist Daniel McWhorter said. “It’s been cool to see this festival grow into what it has become, and we’re glad to be a part of it.”

Gideon has experienced great success since playing the first Rocktoberfest, and they are preparing to release their third studio album. They are currently on tour with Being as an Ocean, Fit For a King, Wolves at the Gate, and Capsize, who all played this year’s festival as well.

Rocktoberfest has become increasingly successful, with this year being both the most attended and the most highly regarded in terms of the lineup. There is no certainty as to where next year’s event will be held or who will be playing, but the promoters behind Rocktoberfest plan on continuing to bring great music to the Lowcountry.

This year's Rocktoberfest promotional poster
This year’s Rocktoberfest promotional poster