This weekend, the second annual Rock the Blocks Music and Arts Festival will be taking downtown Blacksburg by storm. More than 50 bands and DJs plan to perform across eight venues downtown, along with a host of art displays, craft vendors and workshops.
The musical acts span a variety of genres, including rock, folk, electronic dance, metal and reggae. Touring artists Segway, Toy Soldiers and Shasha Marley will join a myriad underground and local talent.
Attendees will watch bands and DJs performing in some of downtown Blacksburg’s musical hotspots. Rock the Blocks is partnering with Sycamore Deli, She-Sha Cafe, Champs Sports Bar, XYZ Gallery, Frank’s Bar at 622 North, Gillies, Ceritano’s and Pita Vera to provide space and staging for the artists. Most venues will have artists performing between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m., though daytime activities, including art exhibits and live music at the Farmer’s Market, will also be occurring on Saturday starting at around 11 a.m.
Artwork will be a prominent feature of the festival, with works on display at the XYZ Gallery on Main Street. Local artists are scheduled to paint outdoor murals at locations around town as part of Blacksburg Neighborhood Services’ “Untag the Town” initiative, though Chris Piatt, co-producer of Rock the Blocks, is unsure the weather will permit the painting.
“It has to be over 40 degrees for 10 hours after the painting,” Piatt said. “If the weather keeps up the way it’s been, I doubt it.”
The first Rock the Blocks, which took place last spring, had over 2,000 attendees.
Rock the Blocks expects to exceed that amount this year, after such a great showing last year, as well as increased marketing and awareness for this year’s festival. The festival started as the brainchild of Yvonne Yee, and along with a group of dedicated Blacksburg residents, the project got off the ground.
The event is being sponsored by a variety of partners, including Downtown Blacksburg Inc., the NextThreeDays.com and 16Blocks Magazine, among others.
The $30 per ticket presale ended yesterday, but tickets will be sold on the day of the event for $35 on College Ave. from the Community Arts Information Office. Those who purchase tickets will receive a wristband, which grants entrance to any venue or showcase. Individual tickets can also be purchased at the door of each venue for $5-$10, though wristband holders will have priority if space becomes limited.
Alcohol will be served at each venue, and there will be a wine tasting at the XYZ Gallery on Saturday.
“That’s the luxury of the festival; most of our venues are bars and will be operating as bars while the music goes on,” said Piatt.
Piatt says the big draw of the festival will be the accessibility of the different musical and artistic attractions for the Blacksburg community.
“We’ve been calling it a ‘genre-agnostic’ festival,” Piatt laughed. “There’s something for everyone.”
Any proceeds leftover from the festival will be placed in a pot to go towards the event next year. According to Piatt, the Rock the Blocks producers desire to instill a change in the arts scene of downtown through the festival.
“We want to use (the festival) as a catalyst for a music and arts revolution for Blacksburg,” Piatt said.