It's been a couple of weeks since the Exit 111 festival in Manchester, Tennessee, took place, and while there seemed to be as many questions heading into the event as there were answers, hindsight reveals it was a pretty great event.

Leading up to it, people wondered if the lineup, which seemed almost too good to be true, was real. They wondered if fans of metal and hard-rock bands like Slayer, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Def Leppard, ZZ Top and Guns N' Roses would camp.

They wondered if there would be enough fans to make it a success and they wondered what Great Stage Park, the same venue that holds the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, which attracts a decidedly different type of crowd, would look like.

But here we are two weeks later and people are still talking about it. In fact, the guys in Def Leppard put out a pretty cool video about their experiences, and you can watch it here.

The smart money says there will be a 2020 version, though nothing has been officially announced. Who would you like to see there next year? I'll go with Kiss, Alice Cooper, Spinal Tap (I'm noticing a cartoonish theme here) and because I want to see them live, Liliac, a cover band featuring five siblings with great hair and chops originally from Romania.

* While on the subject of festivals, I had it pointed out to me the other day that Riverbend is our only real opportunity to see the really big acts. And by that I mean the acts that typically draw the largest crowds. The 20,000 or more crowds.

As I've written before, there just aren't very many tours that go into venues the size of our McKenzie Arena anymore, so we basically go from the 3,700-seat Memorial Auditorium (there aren't many of those either) to the arena, which has a couple of shows each year, and its 8,500 seats to about that same number at JFest at the Riverpark last year to whatever number can be put in front of the barge stage at Riverbend, which last year was around 20,000.

I say this because, as I've written before, I'd like to see the barge stage retired, but does that mean we don't get the Keith Urbans or Weezers or Flaming Lips of the world anymore? Or does it mean putting those big shows at Finley Stadium or some other venue we haven't thought of yet?

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Barry Courter

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.


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