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Nostalgia, fireworks to star in Independence Day celebrations

Fireworks will close out this year’s Independence Day celebration on July 3 in Laurens. The event is being headlined by the bands Better Than Ezra and Capital Cities.

This year’s Independence Day celebration in Laurens will have a different look and a different sound as people gather downtown on July 3.

Dubbed “Laurens Freedom Fest,” the annual event in downtown Laurens will feature fireworks and two alternative rock groups with No. 1 records on their resumes.

The Laurens event is among several scheduled locally around the July 4 holiday, including a patriotic-themed Town Rhythms on Thursday, June 29 in Clinton and the annual Lights on the Lake at Camp Fellowship on the shores of Lake Greenwood on Saturday, July 1.

The fireworks display in Laurens is planned to be larger than the previous two years, which featured “Laurens Lights the Nights” digital displays on the Historic Laurens County Courthouse. With renovations ongoing at the courthouse, the digital display was not doable this year.

“It will be a little different than it has been the last couple of years,” said Justin Heisey, special events coordinator for the City of Laurens. “We won’t be having the projection show, but we will be incorporating some awesome lights between the sets (by Better Than Ezra and Capital Cities).”

Better Than Ezra is scheduled to take the stage at 7 p.m., and Grammy Award-nominated Capital Cities is to go on at 9 p.m. and lead into the fireworks display.

After two years featuring a popular Upstate cover band, Laurens will welcome Better Than Ezra and Capital Cities to the stage.

Better Than Ezra’s original members founded the band while attending Louisiana State University in 1988 and hit the charts with the single “Good,” which topped Billboard’s alt-rock chart in 1995.

Heisey said the two bands were chosen for different reasons – Better Than Ezra for the 90s nostalgia it will bring, and Capital Cities for its “electric” live performances.

“We liked the idea of the nostalgia of Better Than Ezra because of their popularity of the 1990s,” he said. “Capital Cities is an exciting and electric group, and we’re glad to have them usher in our July 4 fireworks.”

Better Than Ezra founding members Kevin Griffin (guitar/lead vocals/piano) and Tom Drummond (bass/vocals) still headline the group, which has been named among the top alternative rock artists of all time by Billboard magazine. The group has produced several other hits, though none have climbed to No. 1, over the years, and Taylor Swift covered its 2005 hit “Breathless” in 2010.

According to internet reports, Better Than Ezra plans a new studio album for release later this year, the band’s first new album since 2014.

The duo Capital Cities featuring Sebu Simonian and Ryan Merchant, hit the charts in 2011 with the single Safe and Sound,” which has also been used in an advertising campaign for Coca-Cola.

Los Angeles-based Capital Cities also joined Katy Perry on the North American leg of her Prismatic World Tour in 2017. The band released its “Safe and Sound 11th Anniversary Bundle” in 2021 and the album “Solarize” in 2018.

In addition to the feature acts, the Laurens celebration will also feature a live DJ from B93.7 and patriotic music from Davidson Brass.

The City of Clinton’s Town Rhythms is set for Thursday, June 29. The summer concert series will host the 246th Army Band of the South Carolina National Guard at 7:30 p.m. in downtown Clinton.

The concert is free of charge for all.

Lights on the Lake, celebrating its 10th anniversary, is scheduled for Camp Fellowship 5:30-10:30 p.m.

The Jake Bartley Band is set to perform at 7:30 p.m.

The event is free to the public. A fee will be charged for parking at Camp Fellowship.

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