Self Help Fest – Orlando – 30/09/17
A Day To Remember / Underoath / The Story So Far / Less Than Jake / State Champs / Streetlight Manifesto
/Attila / Real Friends / Moose Blood / Dance Gavin Dance / Wage War / Bad Omens / The Plot in You
Not even the threat of a hundred percent chance of rain in the Orlando Florida area could stop Self Help Fest goers from streaming into the opening gate. Thankfully though the Sunshine State came through, doing what it does best and let the sun come out for some festival fun. Self Help Fest, put on by the scene’s giants A Day to Remember, surely has an emphasis on hardcore, but also draws out pop-punk fans alike. With two stages and thirteen bands hand pi, it sure was one hell of a way to get into the weekend mood. This was a weekend of firsts, it not only being not my first Self Help experience, but Orlando’s first Self Help as well.
If The Plot in You (8) didn’t wake up you up with their newest single “Feel Nothing”, then Bad Omens (7) were more than willing to help out. They kicked off the first performance on the red stage, the bigger of the two. Even if you haven’t heard of them, it was hard to not at least bop your head to their set. The California based group was a long way from home, but brought some great music and hair to the table. Playing a handful of songs off their self-titled to get the crowd off to a good start.
Wage War (8) was the first Florida native band of the day, coming from Ocala, just a bit outside of Orlando. Even though they are considered “locals,” Wage War has really made a name for themselves in the last few years. They’ve toured with big bands like Parkway Drive and Every Time I Die, and are currently signed to Fearless. So it was no surprise that they were well known, but never the less I was impressed that they were so well known that the crowd began chanting their name before they came on stage. Their set list consisted of a good mix of their albums Blueprint and Deadweight. They definitely won me over with their song “Don’t Let Me Fade Away.”
Dance Gavin Dance (9) is always such a pleasure to see live, they never disappoint. They started off their set extremely strong with their oldie “We Own the Night.” There is something so captivating of the contrast between Tilian Pearson and Jon Mess’ vocals backed by Will Swan’s smooth guitar; it is an honest dream. With just about a year since their newest release, they already gave us a taste of their new material, playing their newest track “Summertime Gladness.” Let’s just say that I have high expectations for the new album, but I have no doubt that Dance Gavin Dance will blow them out of the water. They even played on of my favorites “Chucky vs. The Giant Tortoise.”
Ever since their first every US appearance on the entry of Vans Warped Tour a few summers ago, Moose Blood’s (8) fan base has grown at a very fast rate. The irony of the “Bukowski” lyrics “to keep warm, I’ll bring a sweater” being sung in Florida’s sweltering heat was probably one of my favorite moments of the day. Definitely a bit more of a slower set of the day, giving the crowd a bit of time to recharge, but regardless still a blast. They played fan favorites off of I’ll Keep You in Mind, From Time To Time and Blush as vocalist Eddy Brewerton made the crowd swoon with Moose Blood’s cheesy lyrics.
My love for Real Friends (9.5) is forever growing, they just get better and better each time. Right before these lost boys headed overseas for their E.U./U.K. tour, they made sure to crush it at Self-Help. I honestly feel that the mental health break that Dan Lambton took almost year ago did him so well. He looked and sounded better than ever, full of energy, bouncing around the stage.
They had a lot of fun on stage, told a lot of jokes back and forth, and of course put on a great set. Definitely still have “Mess” stuck in my head.
Love them or hate them, but their fan support in undeniable, their provocative lyrics and Fronz’s ego all part of their charm. Attila (7) picked up the festival’s pace once again, turning the dial back to a heavier sound. Best known for their unique style of rap like infused hardcore tunes, they made sure to set themselves aside from the other bands on the roster. They introduced “All Hail Rock & Roll” by saying “this one goes out to Florida.” But of course, such dedication had to be earned; they turned their attention to the crowd for a circle pit challenge. Stating that their goal was to have a Guinness Record worthy circle pit and Orlando eagerly complied opening a huge pit in the middle of the crowd, it was quite impressive.
Streetlight Manifesto (8) had one of the most feel good sets of the day, not only music wise, but their smiles on stage were contagious. I think one of the highlights of the day might’ve been seeing Spiderman, skanking in the pit with some fellow ska heads. I find the combination of punk and ska so intriguing, but yet can’t say that it isn’t a bad mix as proven by Streetlight Manifesto. Of the songs they played, in my opinion, the two genres find the perfect balance on their hit “We Will Fall Together.”
The running between the two stages finally came to an end as State Champs (8.5) closed out the black stage with a bang keeping the crowd hyping the crowd up for a big names. They even had American Sign Language interpreter Amber Soler on stage, which was a first for me, but I instantly fell in love with the important concept as she signed the lyrics back to the crowd. Music should be accessible for all. As if their set wasn’t cool enough already, Dan Lambton of Real Friends came out and helped out on vocals during their smash hit “Elevated.”
Another Florida native band, but a giant in different genre, Less than Jake (8) hit the stage for some fun. Placed not only on the festival for their talent, but also because they are ADTR’s drummer, Alex Shelnut’s, favorite band. What a dream! Their set was decked out to support their newest release Sound the Alarm. But they also played their banger “All My Best Friends are Metalheads,” along with other older hits. And of course no Less Than Jake set is complete until their mascot Evolution Kids comes on stage and shoots some t-shirts into the crowd in between skanking left and right.
The Story so Far (9) had an incredible set, I love seeing them live. They played fan favorites like “Quicksand” and “Daughters.” Them being great band to hype up the crowd would be an understatement, definitely deserve a ton of credit for that. TSSF also introduced their new song “Out Of It” which I’ve bad on repeated since the festival. For those who have those old The Story So Far blues, this song is the one for you. It goes back to the bands older roots, diving back into a What You Don’t See direction. As they walked off state Parker Cannon said “peace on earth forever” which is a great thing to keep in mind considering what is going on in the world right now.
There was a very wide range of Florida bands on this lineup, which is a fantastic way to showcase the state’s talent, which is sometimes underrated. But being no strangers to big stage, the legendary Underoath (9) proved that there is no way such talent should be undermined. As their performance brought the heat, Florida brought the rain. But that did very little to stop the show; rain or shine this event would go on. The rain mixed with their lighting and visuals gave their performance an amazing effect. In between songs they addressed fan support and their journey as a band, discussing the break up. They emphasized the making mistakes makes us human, but they are grateful to be back doing what they love. As their set came to a close, they played their most popular song “A Boy Brushed Red Living in Black and White.”
A Day to Remember (10), the hometown heroes then closed out the night with an actual bang; their love for pyrotechnics are no secret, so it was no surprise that the crowd got showered in streamers as “All I Want” kicked in. They proved themselves worth of headlining and putting on such a festival with a set list that both old and few fans alike would love. Playing newbies like “Paranoia” and “Naivety,” but also bringing back the old but gold“I’m Made of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?” Watching them grow and move into new directions over the last few years has been exciting, I am extremely proud of them. As true locals they played songs that reference Florida such as “All Signs Point to Lauderdale” and “The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle.” If their set list so far didn’t already launch you back into emo nostalgia, then “If It Means a Lot to You” and “Have Faith in Me” had to do the trick. And of course they ended an awesome day “The Downfall of Us All.”
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Review & Photography: Emmely Pavila