COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Over the weekend, Columbus hosted its first RushSouth music festival. Despite challenges due to weather on Sunday, organizers felt positively about the event and hope to hold another festival next year, however nothing has been confirmed.
RushSouth was held on Oct. 14 and 15, with its first day coinciding with the final events in the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Canoe Freestyle World Championships. Organizers, including Uptown Columbus and Yalla PR, said they wanted to create a scene where locals and international visitors could enjoy high-quality live music without having to travel elsewhere.
“We’ve had a pretty seamless event and a pretty seamless setup, even with the rain,” said Yalla PR cofounder Katie Bishop on Saturday. Bishop added that RushSouth’s free components, including a “Zen Zone” and vendor village were “packed” since opening at 10 a.m. that morning.
On Saturday, Bishop estimated crowds of 2,000 to 2,500 people would arrive for each of the two festival days. While ticket sales were below the 8,000 person capacity of Woodruff Riverfront Park which Bishop planned for, she said it was not bad for the first run of the event. Bishop added she thought most people would arrive later in the evening to see headlining acts like Dawes on Saturday and Paul Cauthen and Gov’t Mule on Sunday.
On the days of the festival, tickets starting at $70 each were still being sold. By 5 p.m. on Saturday, nearly 200 additional RushSouth tickets had been purchased.
By the time Dawes hit the stage at 9 p.m. Saturday night, the VIP section in front of RushSouth’s Move to Meaningful stage was filled. Other concertgoers occupied the grass of Woodruff Riverfront Park, making for a crowd of roughly 300 people.
Dawes performed a nearly one-and-a-half-hour set filled with strobing lights in a rainbow of colors. Live, the band’s concert was filled with prominent folk-rock guitar elements and vocals which showcased what frontman Taylor Goldsmith described as a “mellower” tone compared to other rock bands. The California band’s sound has been compared in the past to Laurel Canyon performers of the 1960s and ‘70s.
On Sunday, it was unclear whether Paul Cauthen and his band would hit the stage, due to weather. While on stage, Cauthen explained the band had been told its act was “compromised” earlier in the day, however by 9 p.m. Cauthen and his crew had rallied to perform for almost an hour on the Move to Meaningful stage. Wreathed in shadows under the brim of a black hat, Cauthen told the audience, “We’re ready to party!”
Just past 10 p.m. Gov’t Mule hit the stage, roughly an hour past the time it was originally set to perform. Although the weather was just under 60 degrees on Sunday night, many festivalgoers stuck it out to watch the final RushSouth performance.
Woodruff Riverfront Park was filled with rock harkening back stylistically to what Gov’t Mule frontman Warren Haynes called the “Golden Era of Rock” (roughly 1967 to 1973), which greatly inspired Haynes music, in addition to years spent touring with the Allman Brothers Band.
Whether or not RushSouth will return to Columbus next year remains to be seen, but on Saturday, Bishop seemed hopeful. According to the Yalla PR cofounder, another festival will “absolutely” be under consideration, with an ultimate decision being made based on the final performance of this year’s event.