Who: So What?! Music Festival Day 3
Assuming We Survive, Backtrack, Backwordz, Capsize, Chon, Dance Gavin Dance, Every Time I Die, Four Year Strong, Jesus Piece, Kublai Khan, Like Moths To Flames, Nominee, Norma Jean, Odd Folks, Phinehas, Power Trip, Set Your Goals, Sianvar, Sundressed, Sworn In, The Story So Far
Where: Airhogs Stadium, Grand Prairie, Texas
When: March 26, 2017
Day 3 of So What?! Music Fest was well on its way, and just like Day 2, it was going to be an action packed day full of great artists and good times. Day 3 was considered the more “hardcore” day, bringing in bands such as Power Trip and Every Time I Die. Gates once again opened at 11 a.m., and people were ready to give it their all before it was even noon.
Opening up for the day was Nominee, a rock band from Austin. The realness and vulnerability of the band is present in their lyrics, and it was a great band to kickoff Day 3. They played songs off their recent EP, Drag Me Out. A personal favorite from their set was “Stay.”
Next band to catch was Sundressed, who actually just finished touring with Nominee. This is your go-to band for anytime you want to jam out, but maybe in a more easy going way (if that makes sense). You’ll find yourself constantly nodding your head and tapping your foot while listening to their music. Their LP, A Little Less Put Together, was released earlier this year.
Takeaways from Assuming We Survive’s set was just pure energy and liveliness. Lead singer Adrian Estrella ran all over the stage during their set, and provided plenty of smiles and occasionally stuck out his tongue for the camera. He eventually made his way into the crowd, where he gave high-fives to fans all around. Catch them on tour with Icon For Hire in May and June of this year.
Phinehas took the stage and played a simply stellar set. From lead singer Sean McCulloch’s powerful presence to bassist Bryce Kelley’s hair whips, the band not only performed, but really put on a show for the crowd. In addition to the hair whips, Kelley managed to provide strong vocals even with a face and mouth covered in hair. They are currently on tour with Erra.
Capsize’s set was full of circle pits and crowd sing alongs. I would say that this was really when So What gained full momentum for Day 3. Fans were giving it their all and got extra rowdy when lead singer Daniel Wand got into the crowd with mic in hand. Fans took turns screaming into the mic and trying to crowd surf up to Wand. Guitarist Ryan Knowles also made sure to engage in jumps and guitar swings to really amp up the set.
Sworn In played songs from their breakout album, The Death Card, such as “Hipocrasy” and “Snake Eyes.” Lead singer Tyler Dennen made some crazy faces for the crowd and photographers. Overall, a solid set. Side note: I think many would agree, Dennen’s highlighter was on point.
Kublai Khan was up next, and these Texas favorites are known for their songs that are relatable, with messages that display unity and fighting back against bigotry. To display their own message of unity, the crowd came together to shout out lyrics to a fan favorite, “The Guilty Dog.”
Odd Folks switched things up and brought back the mid-2000’s pop punk vibes. They come from the BCS (Bryan/College Station) music scene, which means they enjoyed their time on stage just as much as the fans. Currently, they are working in the studio on new music.
Sianvar performed and took things to a new level. One minute lead singer Donovan Moreno was taking the mic stand and thrashing around the stage; the next minute, guitarist Sergio Medina was standing on an amp or laying on stage, all while still playing guitar. Guitarist Will Swan had an especially busy day, for his other band (Dance Gavin Dance) would be performing later that night.
Hailing from New York, Backtrack was one of the bands I was super excited to catch live. Their set was full of all the things you’d expect from a solid hardcore show. It’s always great to see a band participate with the crowd, and lead vocalist James Vitalo did just that.
Everyone knows Power Trip puts on a killer show, and their performance at So What proved it. The wind and clouds were starting to really pick up at this time, and the band’s hair was flowing. If you watched their set in slow motion, you would think they were taking part in a shampoo commercial. Some unique quirks from their set included multiple confetti blasts and a designated toilet paper thrower. And to top it off, a proposal. If you haven’t viewed the viral photos yet, you can check it out on the So What Music Festival Facebook page.
Chon provided us a break from the more wild sets, and gave us a chance to enjoy music in a more raw form. Known for being a mostly intrumental band, they were still able to keep things interesting and keep the crowd engaged. With hints of jazz and technical musicianship, Chon brought a refreshing sound to the scene.
Norma Jean always knows how to put on a show. Guitarist John Finnegan made some intense faces that were awesome to capture on camera. The energy shared among the entire band really made their set that much better (not that it needed it). Did you know that drummer Clayton Holyoak also does music photography? You can check out his work and see your favorite bands being captured: @gooseshoots on Instagram.
Set Your Goals celebrated the ten year anniversary of their album Mutiny! and would play through the album, providing fans a nice throwback to some of their favorite hits. The crowd clearly remembered lyrics to all the songs, and singers Matt Wilson and Jordan Brown took advantage of this by putting their mics into the crowd and letting them sing for some parts.
Backwordz, another refreshing band to hit the scene, performed with their messages of anti-statism. To go along with that, lead vocalist Eric July could be seen wearing a “Taxation is Theft” tee. I really enjoyed the Rage Against The Machine vibes Backwordz was giving out. Few bands nowadays will incorporate debatable topics into their music, but Backwordz isn’t scared to do just that. They released their newest album, Veracity, just two weeks ago.
Every Time I Die, always known for putting on a crazy set, delivered as usual. This band is always jumping and letting loose on stage. Jordan Buckley eventually made his way into the crowd and crowd surfed for a bit while playing at the same time. Fans went crazy in hopes to help him crowd surf. The band released a music video for “I Didn’t Want To Join Your Stupid Cult Anyway” and it was a treat full of memes. You can view it here (Warning: Video may be inappropriate for some users).
Dance Gavin Dance played a mix of old and new songs, surely giving the fans what they wanted. Songs played included “Lemon Meringue Tie,” and songs off their latest album, Mothership, such as “Chucky vs. The Giant Tortoise” and “Frozen One”. Lead singer Tilian Pearson was dancing along to almost every song and just like the crowd, getting amped up on his own set. The mix of Pearson’s and Jon Mess’ vocals mesh extremely well together, and have made Dance Gavin Dance continue their growth as a band, regardless of previous lineups.
The Story So Far closed up for the night, and the final day of the festival. Despite being the final band of the night, people had saved enough energy to keep the mosh pits going throughout the whole set, and the crowd surfers continued one after another. Many people in the crowd were yelling at lead singer Parker Cannon to take his shirt off, and his candid response was hilarious. You can always expect The Story So Far to deliver a solid performance, and tonight was no different. The band is currently working on new music, but no dates have been released yet.
And just like that So What?! 2017 came to an end. The concert festival that many look forward to would have to wait another year but emerging again. It’s amazing to see the growth of a festival, and seeing how far it’s come in 10 years. Just a few years ago, So What was held in an indoor venue. Fast forward to now and it’s held in a ball park! This year’s lineup introduced more genres, and there was a band/artist for everyone. Even Gavin (the famous vine/meme kid) enjoyed bands on Day 2. If So What 2018 continues this trend of growth, there’s going to be some even bigger things coming our way. Until next year, So What!
Post and photos by Megan Choi
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