Friends of the Festival Executive Director Mickey McCamish walked members of the media through the revamped Riverbend Festival site Thursday, addressing key issues on people's minds leading up to Friday's opening of the three-day event.
He said safety is one of those issues, especially in light of the shooting involving teenagers last weekend four blocks from the festival site. McCamish said the festival will be well protected by security personnel and local police officers. He said that several immediate members of his family, including his wife, children and grandchildren, will be there.
He asked media to emphasize to fans that chairs will no longer be allowed into the site. The first Riverbend took place in 1982, and for much of its history, fans have been able to bring in collapsible chairs and place them in strategic locations in front of the stages for the entire run of the event, which lasted as many as nine days for many years.
This year's edition will have fewer people, fewer stages, a more current lineup and a more fan-friendly setup and atmosphere, with more room and shorter lines.
"It truly is a new Riverbend, and this is what people want," he said in a previous interview.
Hired to help book the 23-act lineup was veteran Nashville-based music promoter Chris Cobb. He, along with local-event promoter Mike Dougher, helped put together this year's schedule, which has country duo Brothers Osborne, rock band Cage the Elephant and alt-country artist Jason Isbell as its headliners.
Cobb arrived at the site Wednesday and was impressed with the new layout. The Coca-Cola Stage, where the headliners perform, is no longer on a barge on the Tennessee River but set up on the Chattanooga Green with the Tennessee Aquarium behind it. The Budweiser Stage is almost directly under the Olgiati Bridge. The Chevrolet Stage is on the lawn next to the Tennessee River.
"I think this is one of the most beautiful, pristine sites I've ever seen," Cobb said by phone. "Last night, around 8 o'clock, the sun was going down and the lights on the aquarium were on behind the Coke Stage. It's beautiful. The weather is perfect. I'm excited."
Riverbend 2022: What you need to know
He said he and Dougher asked Friends of the Festival to do a survey of fans asking what they wanted to see. They used that as a guide when putting the lineup together.
"They wanted rock, country and AAA (adult album alternative), and I think we hit that goal," he said. "They also wanted diversity in not just the music but the demographics, and I think we hit that."
He said his biggest regret is that there weren't more slots available to book more acts.
"There is always room for improvement, and we had so many other acts we wanted to book, but this is a great lineup," he said.
Cobb has his personal list of acts he is most excited to see, but said, "I know that on Sunday when [Gov't Mule] plays 'Soulshine,' tears will be shed, and I'm looking forward to it."
Allowed items— Clear bags and bags no bigger than 12 by 12 by 6 inches— Baby strollers— Binoculars— Blankets, sheets and towels— Small cameras— Reusable water bottles (empty)— Hand sanitizer (up to 3 ounces)— SunscreenProhibited items— Nonclear bags and bags bigger than 12 by 12 by 6 inches— Aerosol containers— Coolers— Framed backpacks— Any professional audio recording equipment, professional cameras, professional video equipment, drones or other flying devices— Hammocks— Glass containers— Illegal substances— Outside food and beverages— Pets— Selfie sticks— Skateboards, scooters and bicycles— Wagons and carts— Tents, canopies and shade structures— Weapons (including pocketknives and fireworks)— Chairs
Some things about the festival haven't changed, however. Outside food or drink are not allowed, including water, though patrons can bring an empty resuable water bottle to refill at newly added water stations.
Chairs, as noted, are not allowed, but blankets or towels are.
The basic location is the same, and parking is wherever people can find it downtown.
Tickets are $135 for all three days and $90 for single-day tickets Friday and Sunday. Saturday single-day tickets are sold out, as are all VIP tickets. Tickets are available at the Will Call/Box Office at 100 Riverfront Parkway. It opens at 9 a.m.
Gates, on Riverfront Parkway and Chestnut Street near the Tennessee Aquarium and near the Olgiati Bridge to the south, will open at 3 p.m.
Wristbands allow for unlimited entry and re-entry, but people need to scan their wristband each time they enter and exit. Failure to scan when exiting will prohibit re-entry.
Wristbands are nontransferable, nonexchangeable and are replaceable only for the original buyer, for a $20 fee.
To learn more about how to use a wristband, usage fees, refunds, lost wristbands and more, visit riverbendfestival.com/faq.
Lockers complete with four USB charging stations and room enough for a jacket or other small items are available for rent on site for $45 for the weekend. Smoking is allowed only in designated areas.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354. Follow him on Twitter @BarryJC.