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Jay Greeson

Riverbend started Wednesday. Tokens are gone. Pins are gone. Week-plus downtown crowds are, you guessed it, gone too.

Welcome to the new Riverbend Festival.

It will take some adjustments from all of us, and there will be some growing pains.

Well, hopefully, there will be growing pains, because the simple truth in this day and age is this: Welcome to a new Riverbend, which is way better than a dead Riverbend.

Seriously.

The Friday-through-following-Saturday model was tired, whether we wanted to admit it or not. It also was financially not viable.

Filling the slots had become the chief goal rather than filling the seats.

As wrong as change for change's sake can be, the fear of change — as a business or as a consumer — is just as nonsensical.

If Riverbend was facing an "adjust or abort" scenario, then I am thankful for the moves that have been made.

That's not to say the increase in price — with the decrease in days — is not noticeable. It is.

I appreciate the Riverbend folks swinging for the fences in terms of refining and reshaping their product.

This year's lineup has more star power than in recent memory.

And forget the mumbo-jumbo about diversity in this year's lineup. The folks recruiting acts have only one color in mind, and that's green, as in selling as many wristbands and beers and funnel cakes as possible.

For a music festival that lands a classic rock group, a country superstar, a rap star and a classic R&B legend, well, that is more than diverse. It's smart.

No one knows how well the changes will be received.

The crowds almost assuredly will be smaller — but that said, there's no way to ever know that for sure because this side of the Loch Ness Monster, there is no bigger legend than actual Riverbend attendance — but that's OK.

The new Riverbend is different, and that, too, is OK.

The future, however, is not as well known.

It's not the Riverbend we knew, but it is the Riverbend we have.

And we can all agree it's better than no Riverbend at all, right?

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

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