As Beysus and her husband prepare to descend upon South Carolina for OTR II, hordes of clueless Lowcountry dwellers will be making their way two hours northwest for what Rolling Stone called “a sequel to Beychella.”
With schools closing early as throngs out-of-towners navigate the streets near USC’s Williams-Brice Stadium, a venue more accustomed to returning Gamecocks fans than the Beyhive, you’re going to want to be prepared for this holy pilgrimage. So we’ve put together a guide to help you get there, get in, and enjoy the show.
Stops on the way
You’ll mostly just be licking tar until you hit I-77 and Bluff Road or Shop Road, the two likeliest exits for the stadium. We don’t think you’ll need to do too much stopping along the way, but in case you do, there are two rest areas along I-26 westbound near Orangeburg and Gaston.
A brief detour into Bowman leads you to the UFO Welcome Center, a tourist attraction that was the subject of a 2001 Daily Show segment and a Vice mini-doc.
Just 15 miles from the stadium is Congaree, South Carolina’s only national park. The park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is free to enter.
If you’re going to make a day of it, the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens has baby gorillas and lion cubs. The Columbia Museum of Art is offering half-price admission during their renovation, so check out the Katie Pell exhibit. If you need something low-key, catch a flick and sip a craft beer at the Nickelodeon, an independent non-profit theatre.
The City of Columbia recently announced week-long road closures ahead of the show, and as if that’s not confusing enough, there are different traffic flows for before and after the show. So you’re going to want to figure out where you’ll be stashing your vehicle early to avoid looping around a head-spinning configuration.
The State put together a good list of pre-sale lots offering parking close to the stadium. The cheapest option seems to be The Coop, which is selling spots on Eventbrite for $32.81. Otherwise, advance passes for parking lots near the stadium are available for $40 or $85, depending on the lot, on Ticketmaster.
There don’t seem to be many parking secrets if you feel like winging it, but if you do, keep in mind that you’ll be at the mercy of hawkish same-day prices.
COMET, Columbia’s transit system, also announced an OTR II shuttle departing from the Lincoln Street Parking Garage and the State Museum parking lot beginning at 5:30 p.m. The last shuttle back to both locations will depart one hour after the concert. Round trip tickets are $3 per person. Keep in mind that parking at the museum is free, while parking at the garage will be offered at the city rate of $2 per hour.
For the show, the Williams-Brice Stadium is enforcing a clear-bag policy. Small clutch bags will be allowed, as well as clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC bags no larger than 12″ x 6″ x 12″.
Backpacks, purses, fanny packs, and camera bags will not be allowed. Outside food and drink will also not be allowed, including unopened water bottles. Other prohibited items include cups, umbrellas, strollers, and selfie sticks.
Alcoholic beverages, flasks, and cups are included on the prohibited items list, but the stadium will be selling alcohol. If you need a cigarette after the show, you should know that USC is a tobacco-free campus, which extends to the venue.
For more information on the venue’s rules, click here.
Where to eat and drink while you’re there
Five Points, a one-mile neighborhood next to the USC campus, is known for its nightlife and a handful of cheap dining option. The Vista, a 10-minute drive from the Williams-Brice Stadium, is a similar happening spot.
If you want local beer, the breweries River Rat, Conquest, Swamp Cabbage are all less than a 20-minute walk away from the stadium.
The newly-opened J’s Corner restaurant and bar is also a short walk away. The original Big-T’s Bar-B-Que in Gaston is also 10 minutes away from the park if you’re feeling peckish. If you want to get a true Columbia dining experience, Lizard’s Thicket has been a country cookin’ staple for more than 40 years.
Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. with Chloe x Halle. Then DJ Khaled will be there, no doubt showing “fan love.” (NOTE: DJ Khaled was showing Charleston fans love on Thursday night from the back of a pedicab.)
Once DJ Khaled has done his thing, it will be the moment we have all been waiting for, Queen B. What a hard act to follow. But if anyone can bask in Beyonce’s glow, Jay-Z is the man for the job.
If you’re looking to ride out your Beyonce buzz, you’re in luck. Head back down to Five Points to go apeshit or enjoy more of their night life. If you’re looking for handheld fare, Pita Pit is around the corner and open until 2:30 a.m. But just a half mile away from the stadium, you can enjoy your ringing ears at Waffle House for a Kanye approved post-show snack.
Special thanks to our friends Eva, Jordan, and Chris at Columbia’s Free Times for their help. We’ll see you at the show.