published Thursday, June 20th, 2013

In Tune - A Riverbend postmortem

Given that I'm still surrounded by the lingering aroma of chemical-warfare-grade sunblock two days after the fireworks finale, it's hard to accept that Riverbend has ended, but the festival breakdown is well underway. As such, now seems as good a time as any to take a moment to reflect on what went well and what could use some polishing.

THE GOOD

* Coke Stage-worthy supporting acts: Florida Georgia Line kicked things off on opening night by attracting record crowds to the Bud Light Stage. A week later, U.K.'s Leogun rocked the TVFCU Stage with a show some called the evening's sleeper hit. They were followed by Moontaxi, which ended with a show many Twitter users gushingly described as the festival's best.

* EDM: Nashville's Cherub and Brooklyn's Break Science proved the final Saturday that not only does electronic dance music have a place at Riverbend, it can work even early in the day. Hopefully, Friends of the Festival took note and will explore this further in the future. Dragonette next year? Icona Pop? Please?

THE NOT-SO-GOOD

* Cee Lo: Personally, I consider this a non-story, but Friends of the Festival and Cee Lo share blame for the media bedlam that resulted from his swearing and drinking onstage. The festival should have expected rock-star behavior and planned accordingly, and Cee Lo shouldn't have agreed to tame himself when he had no intention of doing so.

That certainly doesn't mean I think the festival should shy away from similar bookings. Green was an excellent and encouraging selection, but the festival needs to better prepare audiences. Expecting "The Voice" and getting Goodie Mob was asking for trouble.

* Entrance logistics: Taking out the entrance at The Passage was a mistake. I heard much grumbling from friends frustrated by not being able to enter the grounds more quickly after crossing over from the North Shore. It couldn't have been prohibitively expensive to hire a few more security guards. Bring it back.

* I'll still argue that Lynyrd Skynyrd was a glorified cover band, but it seems pointless to raise much of a ruckus when tens of thousands of people -- not 110,000, no matter what organizers predicted -- were singing along to "Sweet Home Alabama." (I was one, for the record.)

For all my traditional grumbling, this year was more of a success than I expected. Riverbend is far from perfect, but it's less imperfect than some, myself included, suggest.

Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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