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Rain Or Shine; High Water Festival Never Stopped!

On April 20-21, 2024, High Water Festival returned to North Charleston, South Carolina at the Riverfront for another year of bringing amazing music to the area! This was my first time attending the High Water Festival and my first festival event! I decided a few months ago that I wanted to diversify myself into different genres of music because I mostly cover press for metal music, so I wanted to give this festival a chance. The weekend weather was a wild ride between the first day being in the high 90s and the next day the rain coming and taking away all the wonderful warmth. But this didn't deter High Water Festival from delivering a wonderful weekend filled with unforgettable music and memories.

On April 20, 2024, I got to the festival grounds without any complications at all. There was even enough parking space! I parked right next to the festival grounds because I knew at the end of the night, I would be exhausted from running around all day. Once I got to the festival grounds many attendees were already there waiting at the gate. I also saw others walking next to the water on the pier and at this time it was only 11:00 a.m. and the weather was beautiful and sunny! I walked around the area and took in the surroundings because I hadn't been to this area before and I realized how lovely it is.

Now it was getting closer to the event starting; So I went to the VIP lane and actually met another photographer! We sat for an hour and talked to other attendees about the event and who they were excited to see! During this time, a young girl passed out behind us and the medical team came to her aid instantly and was very quick to get her water and situated to a safer area. It's so important to stay hydrated, especially sitting on a line for hours to wait to get into an event. Your health is more important and attendees need to realize that. I understand you want to be first at the barricade when the doors open, but your health is important because if you don't take care of yourself during hot weather, you will miss out on the event due to passing out and injuring yourself. Please STAY hydrated!

It was time! The second doors opened, I saw these 3 young girls run like they were part of an Olympic team going straight to the Edisto stage! The security guards doing bag checks were very respectful to the other photographers and my bag with all our expensive equipment stored inside. They told us to have an amazing time and to be safe!

The guest services were very helpful with telling us where the press lounge was! As we walked to the press lounge, we took in the scenery of the event, filling up slowly with attendees running to the stages, merch area, and you can't forget about the food vendors! Walking past all the food vendors; I eyed down this vendor called "Chaotic Coffee" and I made sure after I went to the press lounge, I would be running there to get some coffee. Once I got to the press lounge/tent, there were a bunch of snacks and Liquid Deaths for the photographers. There was also wifi and tables so photographers could sit and edit photos throughout the day. It was very hot in the tent, but it was an amazing gesture from the festival to have a lounge like this for the photographers and to give us a space to work!

I left the press lounge to head towards "Chaotic Coffee" where I was automatically greeted by friendly employees! As I was skimming through the menu, I stated "Give me anything festive, but add mocha with oat milk!" They quickly prepared my drink, which looked delicious, but I was sad because they weren't allowed to have straws at the event. That was the only downside, but I understand because straws can be a hazard for the wildlife in the area. I give the "Chaotic Coffee" 10/10 and highly recommend it!

It was time for the first performer on the Edisto stage! The performer was Al Olender and I've personally never listened to her before, however, the second she stated "I am from Hudson Valley, New York" I automatically decided I liked her because I am from that area as well!

When she started her set, her voice was very angelic and soft. It was so hard to focus on photographing her because I wanted to give her musicianship my full attention. Her music thrives on the memory of her brother who passed away, who inspires her to continue making music. He used to be her biggest supporter and would have his friends come over so she could perform in front of them. If you suffered a loss, listen to her music and take in the lyrics of her songs. Recently, I lost my best friend, and listening to her music helped me realize it's okay to grieve and that you need to understand that they are there with you forever. I can't wait to see what this year has in store for her because I became a fan instantly. She was my top performer of the day and I wish for more success for her!

Next was Olivia Jean on the Stono stage which was about a 10-minute walk from the Edisto stage! As I'm walking to the Stono stage, it's right near the water and all I saw was dozens of boats with individuals swimming in the water. I was so jealous because it was very hot and I craved just jumping into the water! When I got to the stage, the security was on point making sure everyone had their press wristbands on because Stono was the larger stage for the event. This stage was so high and I thought to myself "How am I going to be able to get photos?"

As we were standing waiting for Olivia Jean to perform, I went over to talk to a few attendees, who stated, "I am not moving from this spot all day. Noah Kahan is my favorite musician and I don't want to lose this spot" and another person stated, "I have to use the bathroom so bad, but I'm not moving at all because I am NOT missing out on Noah Kahan tonight." Olivia Jean came onto the stage and I was shocked by her appearance, but a GOOD shock because her style blew me away. She gives me gothic vibes and I was so excited. Olivia suffers from social phobia and stated she is very shy, but I would have never guessed because her performance was one of the best I've seen especially watching her play the guitar and sing simultaneously.

Throughout the rest of the event that day, I photographed every musician performing, but I dedicated most of my time to exploring the festival grounds and interacting with the attendees! Let me say this, I use the restroom a lot and there were so many porter potties available and VERY CLEAN. I've been to a festival before as an attendee and the bathroom situation was horrendous, I was excited to see the amount of bathrooms there was which made it easier!

The festival ground also had GA+, VIP, and Platinum lounges as well, providing beverages and sitting areas for those who wanted to relax and take in the enjoyment of being around friends. There were a bunch of sitting areas near the food vendors as well for those who wanted to sit and eat their meals! Also, there was a water station where you could re-fill your water bottles constantly throughout the day. Other festivals need to take note of this because everyone's health comes first. I went to the water station at least 10 times that day to stay hydrated during the event!

Let's talk about the merch area, I swear the line was longer for the merch than outside to GET IN the festival. I didn't personally buy merch during the weekend, but throughout the two days, even during the massive rainstorm on the second day; attendees were STILL on that line!

NOW let's talk about the food! Where do I begin? Okay, so I decided I was craving some ice cream and I saw that there was a little ice cream stand called "King Of Pops," let me tell you; ALL of it looked so good on the menu, but I decided to go with Cookies N' Cream. The young employee was very sweet and recommended the flavor, so I had to go with Cookies N' Cream! The first bite was what I needed. It wasn't too sweet which was great, but so refreshing! 10/10 recommend these amazing natural pops!

Next up was "Cabot Creamery," who gave out free GRILLED CHEESES! I walked over and the young ladies were like "It's free! Enjoy!" And yes, I am guilty of returning multiple times throughout the day to grab another piece! Every time I grabbed a slice, it was hot and grilled to perfection! 10/10!

The best thing I saw that day was a woman wearing a shirt saying "A woman does not have to be modest in order to be respected" Of course I asked the young girl If I could take a photo of her shirt! A woman shouldn't have to feel like she won't be respected because of how she decides to dress. Everyone should be respected, no matter the situation or how they present themselves. I've witnessed countless women be disrespected by others just because she is wearing a crop top and shorts. If you have nothing nice to say; keep it to yourself because not everyone wants to hear your opinion. Dress however you like and I WILL ALWAYS respect and cheer you on!

At this time of day; I was STARVING and couldn't decide what to eat due to all the smells of delicious foods from different vendors, but my HEART told me to go to the Japanese truck!

When I got there, I couldn't decide what I wanted! I went with the orange chicken with white rice! And oh my god; I was in HEAVEN when I took the first bite. The chicken had the perfect crisp to it, the sauce made it so much tastier! On both days, this is where I came when I was hungry. I got the orange chicken bowl twice and it was worth every penny! Very quick service as well! 11/10!

It was finally time to see Shovels & Rope who created the High Water Festival in 2017! Shovels & Rope consists of husband and wife Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, who combine folk, rock, and country rock! When they went on stage, the crowd went crazy. I've never personally listened to them before, but once I saw Cary on the drums, I already knew I was going to become a fan! They currently have over 400,000 Spotify listeners with "Unknown Legend" being the top song with over 35 million plays! I want to thank these two for creating an amazing musical festival that allows everyone to be themselves and enjoy their favorite artists!

It was time for the headliner! Noah Kahan! This is my first time listening to and seeing him perform live. Standing in the photo pit, I noticed a girl holding a sign, see picture below!

This girl had been standing in this spot all day in the hot sun because she was dedicated to making sure her sign was seen by Noah. I think I saw this girl cry at least 6 times while I was taking photos! It's amazing to see how music affects everyone emotionally and how much it motivates others to go into the music industry as well!

The one thing I love about Noah after I did some research, is he's an advocate for mental health! This is something everyone should advocate for because the mental health crisis in the USA is so overwhelming and really sad to see. It's either healthcare doesn't want to help or people are way too scared due to the stigma of being judged if they ask for help. In 2023, Noah went on his world tour where for every ticket sold he would donate a portion of it to The Busyhead Project!

This is what Noah stated; "I've been given so many wonderful opportunities in my career and it really is all for nothing if I don't try and give back to the community that has supported me. If I can help anyone get through their struggles, it will be the proudest achievement of my career" He currently raised over 2 million dollars for this project! We need more musicians who care about mental health and actually want to make a difference in the world. His performance was beautiful and now I see why millions love him. His lyrics have meaning. The aura that surrounds him radiates life and positivity. I was so glad I got this opportunity!

That's it for day 1 of the High Water Festival! Such an amazing day full of individuality and no judgement. And just full of support all around! I was so ready for the next day!

On April 21, 2024, High Water Festival Day 2 began! Today's weather was the complete opposite! Cloudy, very chilly, and a high chance of rain for hours! When I got there, I decided to walk on the pier and take in the beautiful scenery whereas compared to the day before, I just wanted to hide in the shade and not be in the sun. I entered the festival grounds a little earlier than the rest of the attendees and the grounds were so clean. The attendees from the night before definitely showed respect by not leaving garbage all over the place compared to other places I've seen where people just throw their trash anywhere they want.

The first band to open up for the second day of the festival was Babe Club! When they went on stage, the lead vocalist reminded me of if Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani had a baby together; that is what their child would look and sound like. They automatically captured my attention because her voice was so soft and you can hear in her tone that she is a very sweet individual. Jenna Desmond and her boyfriend Corey Campbell created Babe Club around 2018 and haven't stopped creating music since. Their chemistry on the stage was beautiful. When they were singing together, you could just see in both of their eyes that they love what they do and the amount of love they have for each other is palpable.