Apr 29, 2024 - News

Is Uptown Charlotte ready for a massive music festival?

Bob Durkin addresses the media at a press conference

Bob Durkin, of Southern Entertainment, addresses reporters days before Lovin' Life Music Fest. Photo: Alexandra Sands/Axios

Lovin' Life Music Fest's top organizer and city leaders expressed confidence during a press conference Monday in this weekend's festivities going smoothly.

Why it matters: The pressure is on for this three-day, inaugural music festival, which will draw more than 25,000 people daily to First Ward Park.

  • Lovin' Life — which has the potential to fulfill Charlotte's dreams of becoming a music city — will call for road closures, cause traffic, and test the city's transit system and infrastructure.
  • "We understand that we're disrupting people with closing streets," said Bob Durkin, co-founder of Southern Entertainment, which is producing the festival. "The major stakeholders that are involved in helping that happen realize the benefit of this festival and were OK to take those risks."

Catch up quick: The multi-genre festival runs Friday through Sunday. Post Malone, Stevie Nicks and Noah Kahan are headlining. North Carolina stars like DaBaby and The Avett Brothers are performing, along with 18 local and regional acts.

  • Southern Entertainment also puts on Myrtle Beach's Carolina Country Music Fest, which has Morgan Wallen and Carrie Underwood on the lineup this year.

By the numbers: To compare, Charlotte FC's home opener drew 69,345 fans in 2023.

  • The day Beyoncé performed at Bank of America Stadium, there were 191,000 visits in Uptown.

The big picture: Charlotte's tourism and events scene is on a hot streak, with successful concerts at Bank of America Stadium boosting Uptown attendance and soccer making a welcome splash in the city.

Yes, but: Charlotte is no stranger to new events turning into logistical nightmares. (Remember that one beer festival.) Often the transit system gets overwhelmed during large events.

  • Skeptics of this first-year event have questioned everything from stage views to water access.

What they're saying: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Charlotte Area Transit System and the fire department are confident they're prepared for the influx of crowds, even with rumors of surprise guests showing up.

  • "If we can handle sitting presidents and past presidents visiting Charlotte with a last-minute notice, I think we can handle Taylor Swift," CMPD Deputy Chief Jacquelyn Bryley said, addressing a rumor Swift may surprise guests.

Reality check: Swift is unlikely to perform at the festival, but Durkin did hint there will be surprises that will "blow people away."

  • "The backdrop's going to be the skyline," he said. "We have phenomenal fireworks. We have some special stuff."

Pro tips from the briefing:

  • Major roads will close in Uptown before, during and after the event. Some road closures have already started. All roads related to the festival site will close Wednesday at 10am. Everything will reopen by May 7.
  • Transit ambassadors will be at Blue Line stations to answer riders' questions.
  • CATS will add one to three extra light rail vehicles to increase the Blue Line service. The festival overlaps with a Charlotte FC game on Saturday night, which will let out thousands of potential passengers at once.
  • People using Uber, Lyft or other rideshare services should get dropped off on College Street between 7th and 9th streets.
  • Durkin says the "life hack" for Lovin' Life is to download the festival's app. It has parking information, what you can bring inside and more.
  • Large water stations will be at the center of the festival. People can bring in reusable water bottles.
  • There will be four medic tents.
  • Getting in and out of the festival should be swift. A technology system will quickly scan wristbands, to track who is coming in and going out.

Read more: Everything you need to know about Lovin' Life Music Fest in Charlotte

What's next: Southern Entertainment is already planning the 2025 festival.


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