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Country fans’ loyalty continues in spite of dangerous weather

The rain was heavy on the stage before the show was cancelled. Photo by Lili Weinstein

An ominous shadow of the clouds could not stop the mass of college students in plaid shirts and boots who made their way into the UNF Coxwell Amphitheater Saturday night for the highly-anticipated “Welcome to the Nest” Festival showcasing Samuel Herb and Rodney Atkins.

Students walked from the tailgate at Lot 18 to the amphitheater, some humming Atkins popular hit “Take A Back Road” while others laughed and talked with their friends. I made my way through the crowd into the venue while security handed out ponchos to those who accepted them in preparation for the rain.

Sam Herb on stage before the rain. Photo by Lili Weinstein

As the clouds grew darker, UNF’s own Samuel Herb took the stage to open for Atkins. As a senior at UNF, Herb is well-known and drew a large crowd with supportive fans. I was impressed by how comfortable he appeared on stage.

Just as Herb took the stage, the sky opened and it started sprinkling. Herb performed right through it, bow tie at his neck and guitar in hand. He joked about the rain and connected with the audience in spite of the weather, which only stopped him for maybe five minutes. My favorite song he played was his new song called “#BasicWhiteGirl.” Herb playfully insulted basic white girls who are nothing but “toes in the sand” with “Starbucks in hand wearing her Ray Bans” while also making an endearing song that all basic white girls– including me– could relate to.

The rain hit harder throughout Herb’s performance but he had the personality of a true entertainer as he got the audience to yell, “Yes I been drinkin’” as part of one of his other songs. With my wet hair sticking to my face, I noticed that although everyone was soaked, the shared discomfort made it bearable.

Herb left the stage and the crowd grew restless as rain came and went. The audience was shoulder to shoulder some huddling together to attempt to stay dry. I walked to the outskirts of the venue and noticed some students running out as security, wearing their ponchos, shouted “No re-entry!”

Students eager to see Rodney Atkins hit the stage. Photo by Lili Weinstein
Students eager to see Rodney Atkins hit the stage. Photo by Lili Weinstein

While some students ditched, a small crowd remained even as the weather got worse. I was amazed by the continuing loyalty of the country fans. One group of about twenty found shelter under an Osprey Productions banner. Everyone sang along to songs like “Devil Went Down To Georgia” and “Friends In Low Places.” The community spirit was refreshing, even as I shivered in my cold, wet clothes.  

Osprey Productions came out once to announce Atkins, but was interrupted by the stage crew who said they were not ready yet. The crowd moaned and the rain started pouring relentlessly, almost in agreement. Shortly after the announcement, a flash of light streaked across the sky accompanied by the growling roar of thunder. Atkins came out anyway and was able to perform “Farmer’s Daughter” before the crowd was evacuated to the Student Union.

Shortly after, security declared the concert canceled to the dismay of the remaining fans.  

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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