Photography by Derek Bell and MCP Presents
Right now, there’s is a sweeping synchronicity of sheer anticipation transpiring in music lovers across oceans, borders and state lines. Thousands of daytime dancers and camping eccentrics are gearing up for a festival experience that has literally brought the bass to our very own backyard.
The return of CounterPoint Music and Arts Festival, brought to us by MCP Presents, draws closer and closer as the chill in the air subsides and sandals, t-shirts and bare arms replace the bulk of winter boots and warm jackets. The rolling green hills of Kingston Downs will welcome back those sandaled footprints of festival-goers on Memorial Day Weekend, and officials of Rome-Floyd County echo that embrace.
“I know they’re really excited about coming back and we’re really excited about having them back. They definitely put Rome-Floyd County on the map as a great music venue,”
says Lisa Smith, executive director of the Greater Rome Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.
The festival last year flowed so smooth, in fact, that Rome City Manager, Sammy Rich, has nothing but words of affirmation for the successes of the first CounterPoint installation at Kingston Downs, “I don’t believe we had anything but a positive impact and positive results. The impact on local economy was simply phenomenal, and that’s a great example of the type of economic development that is so easy for the community and very little commitment for the community.”
The event ushered in a myriad of fresh faces, eminently impressive revenues and quite possibly the most colorful scene that Kingston Downs has yet to entertain. Streaming rainbows of high flying flags danced across the blue North Georgia sky while below, a sea of confetti swept across the grounds as fans and festival lovers became one organism in celebration of an environment that stimulates them and music that moves them.
“Overall the event was a great success,” says Kevin Earle, marketing director for MCP, “Working with a new venue there will always be challenges and hiccups, but Kingston Downs is unique in that it has a 20 year track record (fully intended) of hosting large scale events. The infrastructure on site lent perfectly to what we wanted to accomplish and made our job relatively easy, thus allowing us to focus on providing the best fan experience possible.”
Creating that unforgettable fan experience remains the perpetual pulse beneath MCP’s motivation. One thing that has rung true (and maintained its tone) is that they always listen; whether it be to the voices of their fans or the community in which they hold an event. “They are very professional,” Smith says, “They’re really easy to work with and were very eager to see, how they will fit into the community, how they will become part of the fabric.” Smith adds that she appreciated and admired that, with MCP, there was no skirting around issues or monetary tunnel vision, instead they were all about accommodation, possibilities and problem solving.
“These guys went out of their way to do a great job. They went out of their way for any concerns we had to address and I can’t compliment them enough on that,” says Jamie McCord, Floyd County Manager.
It is with a solid foundation and dedicated participants that CounterPoint embarks on its second year of hosting an event in the Georgia Mountains; and with it, comes a mighty diverse lineup. Born with an EDM (electronic dance music) core, CounterPoint has expanded the brand of the bill to include an intermix of sounds while still maintaining those electro-roots. The 2015 headlining artists consist of the of the widely followed, Georgia-born, Widespread Panic, the fancentric jam-rock of Umphrey’s McGee, the EDM stylings of Knife Party, Dillon Francis and Zedd, and the envelope pushing hip-hop crew, The Roots. Further into the lineup, CounterPoint 2015 submits the funk/jazz/jam of Galactic, a hefty touch of brass infused with hip-hop, funk and R&B, compliments of The Soul Rebels, and the familiar “dub-step” rhythm of CounterPoint veteran, OTT.
In tow with the sundry sounds of this year’s lineup, CounterPoint brings along its signature activities and amenities. “There are yard games, carnival rides, various workshops, morning yoga, meditation sessions, a non-profit village, arts and craft vendors from all over the world, food and beverage selections that rival Taste of Atlanta, national and local artists, a silent disco, bonfires, various types of camping and so much more,” Earle says.
Also, available in each of the camping communities, there will be a BBQ grilling area, picnic tables and a “Hammock Zone” for resting the bones. “All of that will be there,” Earle adds, “but in the end it’s not about any of those individual elements. It’s about the culmination of all of those elements over one weekend that morphs into an experience. An experience that is the polar opposite of everyday life and one that won’t be easily forgotten.”
To make sure that they deliver an experience that is as chill and as accommodating as possible, MCP has literally broken new ground this year in the area of convenience.“One thing that most will notice is the additional access road we have created on the west side of the property,” Earle says, “This will allow for faster entrance off the highway as well as expedited parking / camping once inside; all to get people settled and ready to enjoy the weekend quicker and minimize the impact on the local roadways and residents.”
It’s significant to say, that this is not just a concert. These are the types of experiences that change us, that open our eyes, and introduce us to new faces and new horizons. The truth is, CounterPoint is doing that same thing for our community. “We spend so much time looking to recruit jobs and industry to the community,” Rich says, “So it’s amazing to have these types of events that not only add to the economic development and vitality of the community, but it adds to the quality of life.”
With one more meeting between Rome-Floyd County officials and the reps of MCP, there may be a few details to hash out, but as of now, the motives and the mechanics are set and ready for a 2015 experience that fans will never forget; and that’s exactly the idea. No doubt, there will be some seasoned camping concert vets in the crowd this year, but no one could speak the words as vividly or as thoroughly as Earle when he prepares first-timers for a festival experience, Kingston Downs style, “Newbies should come with an open mind, but should come with the expectation that they will find a place where free thought and expression are welcome. A place where sleeping under the stars and making new friends is a way of life. A place where great music, art of all types and beautiful surroundings blend seamlessly into an experience that is capable of awakening parts of a person’s soul they thought was lost or that they never knew existed at all.”
See you under the stars, my friends.