BY JESS BECK AND ZEL MICHAELS | Go Venue Magazine
It’s a hot one today for the SoWhat?! Music Festival here in Dallas, Texas at the Choctaw Stadium as the temperature is set to reach 102 degrees with like…900% humidity.
But SoWhat?! Right? Thanks to the Monster Energy Drink stand just down past the Hot Topic Stage, they’re keeping the fans hydrated and cool all throughout the day with the most pleasant staff you could ask for! The bands played on, the fans…fanned…on? Anyway, you know what we’re saying.
Let’s dive right in!
First up for us today was Point North on the Hot Topic Stage, and the thing I love about these dudes is that they always put out a banger of a performance. I caught them in 2019 when they came through Nebraska, and I was really looking forward to seeing them again this time around. They opened with their hit “Gasoline” and kept the fire burning from that point out. Fill-in guitarist and friend Niles Gregory Gibbs sounded incredible and brought a fury of energy for the performance. Thankful to be playing live shows again, vocalist Jon Lundin thanked the crowd for showing up on such a hot day to support music. Notable tracks for me were “Gasoline,” “Ghost in my Home,” and “Erase You.”
After a brief cool down in the media room (three flights up mind you), we trotted back down to the main level for Stand Atlantic, also on the Hot Topic Stage. This is a band that I’ve been listening to for a while now, so to cover them at a festival like this was such a unique experience. Hailing all the way from Sydney, Australia, the four-piece wasted no time getting to work to set the tone for their set. Vocalist Bonnie Fraser kicked right in with her signature style of blending grit with enough clean to balance. Her voice is just balanced – much unlike our current justice system – but that’s a separate point to bitch about. Despite the heat, Bonnie rocked a pair of ripped up blue jeans and quite literally bounced from one side of the stage to the next, and 10/10 would recommend catching them live if you can! Notable tracks included, “Lavendar Bones,” “Hate Me (Sometimes),” and “Jurassic Park.”
Ok…take time to stay hydrated.
On to the next one!
After finishing up at the Hot Topic Stage, we made our way down to the field of Choctaw Stadium to the Stay Lit Stage for Scary Kids Scaring Kids – an awesome group of dudes from our new home state of Arizona! And what a performance it was. They brought out Lil Lotus for the opening track “Knock It All Down”, and the crowd fucking loved it! After that, it was just banger after banger in the Texas sun. Vocalist Chad Crawford stated to the audience that, “I’m an HVAC guy. I don’t get to get up here every day and do this, so thank you all so much for coming to support us!” The band seems to have found their footing after some rocky stints a few years ago. Pouyan Afkary was a lightening rod on the stage, creating some of the most memorable faces from a performer that I can remember. Notable tracks for me were, “Knock It All Down,” and, “My Darkest Hour.”
Immediately after this, we headed next door to the Revolver Stage for a band called Hail the Sun. And this is where I tag Zel in.
This was a glass half full type of show. Fitting because they played their song “Glass: Half Empty“. Singer Donovan Melero was like a chaotic energizer bunny – constantly running around on stage, all while swinging his mic around never missing a note. The intricate guitar work between Shane Gann and Aric Garcia kept me guessing where they would go next. About a quarter way through the set, Donovan got behind the drums to play a few songs, adding yet another wow factor to the band. I will definitely be checking out their 2021 album “New Age Filth.”
After Hail the Sun’s explosive performance, we made the journey up the stadium steps and back to the Hot Topic Stage to await Canadian legends Simple Plan. But before we caught them, we overheard the last portion of Grandson’s set – and this was a common theme throughout the festival – where he went OFF on the NRA, Ted Cruz, and every other politician who is afraid to do something about the gun violence, especially in the wake of yet another tragic shooting at Uvalde. “Fuck Ted Cruz, fuck the NRA, and fuck anyone who is too paid off to do anything about this!” he screamed just before he ended his set. I gotta say, it takes a lot of balls to say bad stuff about guns in Texas, but my hat’s off to Grandson for sticking up for what he believes in.
After an interval of around 30 minutes, the lights dimmed.
The sun finally set.
And my teenage-emo-angst-filled heart began to beat a little faster.
Simple Plan was HERE!
They put on a blistering show that had all the things you’d want out of a Simple Plan show. Balloons and beach balls? Yeah, they had em. Canadian references? You bet your ketchup flavored Doritos they did! Covers of Smashmouth and “Sk8er Boi” by Avril Lavigne? Hell yeah!
They played everything that my little emo heart had hoped for, everything from their 20-year history as a band was encapsulated in this 90 minute set, and they fucking NAILED it. Vocalist Pierre Bouvier (a name about as French Canadian as you can get, eh?) was an absolute force along with the rest of the band as they celebrated 20 years of bringing people blissful melodies with sad lyrics.
Towards the end, drummer Chuck Comeau came to the front of the stage and said, “You know…normally I like to come down and hug each and every one of you, but due to Covid they told me that I couldn’t do it. But so what? I’m gonna do it anyway!” He then put on a hazmat suit and crowd-surfed to the delight of the fans. Notable tracks include “I’m Just A Kid,” “Welcome to My Life,” and “Where I Belong.”
As the sun had set, the lingering effects of the humidity were still lingering.
I became sweat.
Luckily, growing up in Nebraska prepared me for this exact moment. The soup that is a Nebraska summer prepared me for the Texas stew I was boiling in (although Texas stew tops Nebraska soup all day – in fact, Nebraska soup sucks all the way around).
But then it happened.
Just after 10pm, the fellas in Sum 41 took their rightful places on the stage to close out the night with some of our most iconic pop-punk anthems. Vocalist Deryck Whibley (Canadian’s and their names, am I right?) shouted into the crowd, “I love you all, remember to hydrate! If someone falls, pick them up and keep going! Now open this pit up, I wanna see the biggest circle we’ve had today!”
And like…duh…everyone moshed.
As Sum 41 played on, the sweat-soaked, ragtag bunch of scallywags in the audience continued to shower them with accolades, mosh pits, and crowd surfers. Between the lighting, the sound (which was thunderous enough to feel it pulsate through your whole body), and the energy, it was an awesome way to end the second day of the SoWhat?! Music Festival here in Texas. Sum 41 was also celebrating an anniversary of their album “Does This Look Infected” and played a number of songs from that album to celebrate that they normally don’t play. Notable tracks include, “The Hell Song,” “Still Waiting,” and “Motivation.”
As always, another huge thank you to the Choctaw Stadium staff, the fire crew, the police, the security crews working the doors and the pits, and for the Monster Energy Drink team for helping to keep everyone hydrated, non-confrontational and cool. We’ll catch you all tomorrow for one more day of ear-pounding coverage from right here in the heart of Texas!All images © Jess Beck and Zel Michaels
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