BY JESS BECK AND ZEL MICHAELS | Go Venue Magazine
Two days done, one to go…
*Steps out of bed*
*Back gives me the finger*
*Feet are also giving me the finger*
Day three started a little late for us. After essentially 4 days of no sleep (average 4 hours per night if we were lucky), walking on average of 10 miles per day…we were running on fumes. Our cameras were getting heavier by the minute. The crowd had diminished in size from the previous two days, effectively turning the SoWhat?! Music Festival at Choctaw Stadium into a proverbial Ghost Town on Sunday, May 29th, but for those who had the gusto to show up, it was the last hurrah. The final moments before the weekend of music ended, and they had to return to their regular lives. The festival goers – as well as us – had to make today count!
Kicking off our final day in Texas at the SoWhat?! Music Festival in Dallas, Texas on a hot, sticky Sunday afternoon was The Word Alive – a band that hails from our new hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, so of course we had to get ’em! They put out a high performance set as weary fans lined up to again be beaten down by the Texas heat fuming up through the floor panels that they used to cover the stadium with. They’re on tour right now for support for their new album Monomania, and even though the band has gone through quite the lineup change over the past few years, they still came out with high energy and killed the show. Notable tracks for me include “Monomania,” “Misery,” and “Trapped.”
We made our way from the Stay Lit Stage inside the stadium to the Monster Energy A/B Stage for the next act – Crooked Teeth. I wanted to cover these guys since I had seen them before in Nebraska, but it was before I got into concert photography and I remembered them being pretty good. They’re a three-piece outfit hailing from California who has racked up almost 60K monthly listeners on Spotify. They kicked off with “First World Problems” and kept the energy going from there. This band does a great job of blending emo lyrics with pop-punk beats, so if you haven’t – check em out! Notable tracks include, “Bedroom Eyes,” “You and Me,” and “Light Me Up.”
We made our way through the stadium back to the Hot Topic Stage (which was just starting to feel like home, ya know?) to see Movement On Dreams, Stand Under None. You might know him as Mod Sun though – hailing from Bloomington, MN. He brought his mix of rap blended with pop-punk, free spirited presence, and wild fashion sense and left it all on the stage that day. “This is the best day of my whole life!” he shouted to the crowd right before his set started. He kept a fast tempo that the audience ate up faster than the Hindenburg went up in flames. He also stated that he is currently celebrating sobriety, and he mentioned that he hopes this takes his music to the next level – although the level he’s on now is a pretty damn good one! Notable tracks include “Karma,” and “Betterman.”
Alright, after sweating through the heat for one more day, we decide to head over to the Monster Energy Drink tent to refuel with a crisp and refreshing strawberry lemonade.
The heaviest part of the day was approaching, so we gathered what little strength we had left and made our way back down the stadium stairs into the boiling sun to catch The Plot In You on the Stay Lit Stage. The power and emotion behind vocalist Landon Tewers was visible from the nosebleed section of Choctaw. TPIY was a mix of melodic verses followed by crippling screams that came with relative ease from Tewers. They played “Not Just Breathing” and “Feel Nothing” leaving the crowd breathless and feeling every bit of anguish coming from Tewers. Although movement was a little scarce due to the Texas heat, the crowd still loved every minute of the set, singing and chanting along to every song. It’s no wonder The Plot in You has the following it has.
Next up was a little band called State Champs back on the Hot Topic Stage. Ok – I’ve seen these guys three times now, but the first time was in 2014 when they opened up for ADTR and Parkway Drive (who weren’t on this show, and we wish the fellas in Parkway Drive well) and I was blown away by the explosiveness. The second time I caught them it was at Warped Tour in 2018 in Kansas City and I thought, “I need to photograph these dudes before I die.”
And today was that day!
They came out fuming with pure adrenaline and made sure the crowd got involved right away from the get go. “I wanna see crowd surfers, mosh pits, and everyone having a great time!” vocalist Derek Discanio shouted just before the set began. And do you think those assholes in the crowd listened to him?
Fuck yeah, they did!
The show was a furry of mega hits as they’re on tour in support of their new album “Kings of the New Age.” The energy for this show was incredible, and in my opinion should’ve been the headliner because talent level – these dudes crush Blackbear no contest (he didn’t even let media come to his show, so fuck that guy). After the show, I had the chance to catch up with Derek, and thank him for putting on such an intense show – one that I’ll remember for a long time! Such a chill dude, and I wish him and all the fellas in State Champs a successful tour as they continue to support their new album. Notable tracks include, “Frozen,” “Criminal” and “Outta My Head.”
Next up, we made our way back down the stadium stairs (seeing a trend yet – our legs are dead by this point) for We Came As Romans. Kicking the set-off with “Darkbloom” there was no doubt in our minds that WCAR was ready for an actual war. They came out one by one from behind the stage to build the anticipation, followed by a sudden, “I AM DARKBLOOM!” erupted as the sun-soaked crowd began to headbang. Unfortunately, Murphy’s Law loomed large (like it can with any show, not only these stadium ones) and took out one of the guitars. But the fellas handled it like champs (or…Romans…?) and pressed on to keep delivering a noteworthy performance for the audience.
And it’s worth noting that every single member of the band (and some other bands too) were wearing “Kyle Forever” shirts in honor of the passing of WCAR clean vocalist a few years ago. His presence was missed, but was also felt at the performance. Kyle, wherever you are, I hope this show made you proud! Notable tracks include “Darkbloom,” “Lost In the Moment,” and “Cold Like War.”
Next up for us was thankfully right on the same stage, so we didn’t have to get very far. The sun was finally down on our last evening at Choctaw Stadium, and the anticipation for Alexisonfire was intense. I have to admit – I’m not super familiar with these guys. Like…at all. I found one song back in 2009, and it’s just always been in rotation for me after that, but let that sink in for just a moment.
That’s all it took for me to get hooked on these guys, who are coming back now after a 13-year hiatus to deliver quality metal to sooth your aching earholes.
Their sound has been described as two Catholic high school girls in mid-knife fight, and that’s exactly what they delivered to the weary crowd. Between the lights, the erratic movement, and the perfect harmonies, they killed this show. It’s no wonder why the majority of their records have been certified Gold or Platinum – and keeping track with the rest of their release dates – they have a new record dropping June 24th of this year (which is just two days away from my birthday, I’ll tell ya where you can send me a copy). Notable tracks included “This Could Be Anywhere in the World,” “Familiar Drugs,” and “Accidents.”
There was a calm 20 minutes before the headliner graced the stage, and I was so excited for these guys. I was first introduced to Underoath in high school with their smash hit “They’re Only Chasing Safety” album, which dropped in 2004. And while this storied band has had its share of controversy over the years, they came to put on a show, and they did just that. Igniting the crowd with a super-nova level start, they played banger after banger. It was like a rave, playing metal music, held in a cult meeting, inside a stadium. There. That’s what seeing Underoath live is like. It’s a full body experience, from the pulsating lights, the piercing and hauntingly beautiful vocal combination between Spencer Chamberlin and Aaron Gillespie, to the even more hauntingly beautiful crowd singing along to, “Drowning in my sleep,” during the chorus of “It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door,” this last show had the push it needed to get us through.
As always, thanks to the Choctaw Stadium staff, the groundskeepers who worked tirelessly to keep the place clean and safe, the vendors for helping to make sure everyone was hydrated, and a special thanks to Becky Kovach and Kalie Tomlinson from Big Picture Media for putting the show on. We know it’s a LOT of work to organize something on this scale, and we want to make sure that you get your dues ladies because y’all fucking KILLED it. Thanks for reading, everyone – we’ll catch ya at the next show! Remember – stay hydrated, WEAR DEODERANT, and pace yourselves. Stay tuned for more updates from Go Venue Magazine by liking the page, so we can continue to bring you the most excellent, exciting show coverage across the country!All images © Jess Beck and Zel Michaels
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