The Daily Gamecock

St. Pat's in Five Points delivers with old traditions, new additions

<p>The streets of Five Points were flooded on Saturday for a variety of concerts and vendors as part of the area's annual St. Patrick's Day celebration.</p>
The streets of Five Points were flooded on Saturday for a variety of concerts and vendors as part of the area's annual St. Patrick's Day celebration.

On any given night of the week, Five Points bursts with energy. For the St. Patrick's Day festival, that energy is multiplied by tens of thousands, and people from all over the state, and the country, turn out to celebrate in every shade of green.

But amid all the festivities, from the vendors in the streets to the musicians onstage, there is arguably very little that is authentically Irish. Other than the sea of green and the occasional kilt, the festival is a thoroughly Americanized version of St. Patrick's Day. 

For attendees of St. Pat’s in Five Points, the point of the holiday boils down to something else entirely: the music and the party.

This year, the Five Points Association introduced new attractions, such as the food truck rodeo, while continuing well-loved traditions including the "Get to the Green" 5K and the St. Patrick's Day parade. A number of local businesses had stalls set up in the streets, and much of the food and music originated in Columbia.

Columbia College student Hayley Faruqui said her favorite St. Patrick's day festival was in 2014 — the year country singer-songwriter Cole Swindell headlined. Not so coincidentally, 2014 was the same year that Amy Beth Franks, executive director of the Five Points Association, made the decision to shift the festival's emphasis toward musical performances.

"I remember thinking, 'Let's turn this more into a music festival,' and I definitely got some push-back," Franks said in an interview with Free Times. "Because that was never what St. Pat's originally was. But now I feel like people are embracing it."

The festival featured a variety of different bands at five separate stages throughout Five Points.

The Front Bottoms, an indie pop-punk band borne from New Jersey, performed at the stage at Saluda Avenue and were attended by an enthusiastic audience. Event staff fended off crowd-surfers, and fans shouted along with the lyrics throughout the band's set.

A modest crowd of dedicated fans gathered to watch Villa*Nova, a local rock band led by its namesake B.C. Villanova, at the stage on College Street. Some members of the audience were clearly familiar with the bandmates, speaking to them before the set began.

USC second-year sports management student Abby Aycock, who said she mostly came for the music, was most excited for the performance by recent country icon Old Dominion, the festival's most well-known band.

Old Dominion came into the country spotlight recently with their hit "Break Up With Him," which inspired cheers when they played it later in their set. "Nowhere Fast," a love song with a smooth beat, had many members of the large crowd dancing and swaying with partners.

They also played several covers, all of which the members of the band had helped write, including Sam Hunt's "Ex To See" and Dierks Bentley's "Say You Do." They also helped write other hits such as Tyler Farr's "A Guy Walks into a Bar" and Blake Shelton's "Sangria," both of which they performed Saturday afternoon.

None of these speaks to Irish culture. Glittery shamrocks and "Kiss me, I'm Irish" shirts don't exactly scream authenticity. But St. Pat's in Five Points does not claim to be anything more than a day of partying and enjoying good music and food. It's not about the culture of Ireland, but the culture of Columbia.