The treasured cross-country music festival, Warped Tour, may have come to an end this past summer with the three anniversary locations, but there is one music festival that is stepping up to the plate to continue Warped Tour’s summer traditions. Sad Summer Festival was announced in March with pop-punk/rock headliners such as State Champs, The Maine, The Wonder Years, and Mayday Parade. Joining the headliners, Australian band Stand Atlantic, Mom Jeans, and Just Friends created a great line-up. Keeping in tradition, Sad Summer Fest had the nonprofit organization Hope For The Day present and had locations to donate to local charities. Food trucks were also among the merchandise tents. Free water bottle refill taps were available as well to make sure festival goers stayed hydrated. Before, after, and during sets, festival goers had the chance to meet their favorite bands and get photos taken with them. The line-ups changed with each location.
On July 12, the MECU Pavilion in Baltimore welcomed the new festival. Right alongside the water the festival had photo opportunities with large backdrops of the Sad Summer Fest logo and song lyrics from the headliners. Bright pink with black lettering, it was hard to miss the backdrops. Green turf was in in front of some of them with large flamingo pool floats to add to the photo opportunities. Festival goers walked around taking photos and grabbing food while listening to the bands perform.
The first band to perform at the MECU Pavilion was Just Friends. This Funk Punk band from Dublin/Pleasanton, California, started the festival out with an energetic performance. While the band had the usual instruments, like a guitar and drums, they also had a trumpet, a trombone, and a keyboard. Their performance set the mood for the rest of the festival, getting the crowd ready for the other bands.
From Australia, band Stand Atlantic took stage next. With a high energy performance, Stand Atlantic played a fantastic show. They had two banners beside them that read, “If you can read this… Hi, we’re Stand Atlantic.” From jumping around the stage and doing tricks with their guitars, it was hard to look away. When the band played some of their most popular songs, everyone, including the people outside of the pit, were dancing and singing the songs out loud.
Mom Jeans, a band formed in 2014 in Berkeley, California followed Stand Atlantic.
Natives of Lansdale, Pennsylvania, The Wonder Years took the stage by storm next. Filled with so much energy, this band had the crowd up and
moving. There was a point during the performance when someone started crowd surfing. The lead singer, Dan Campbell, jumped off the stage to help the crowd surfer get back to the ground while also putting himself in the crowd. After the crowd surfer was back safely on the ground, he jumped back on stage and continued singing. This performance was filled with fun and surprises.
State Champs, a group from Albany, New York, played next. This group never disappoints when it comes to performing. As always, the guys of State Champs had energy to spare. The lead singer, Derek DiScanio, jumped around the stage with so much energy he was hard to keep up with. The guitarists, Tyler Szalkowski and Tony Diaz, and bass player, Ryan Scott Graham, also jumped around the stage, making sure they hit each side of the stage equally. The drummer, Evan Ambrosio, kept up the energy while playing the drums. They performed a lot of their popular songs that they play at every show, and threw in some new songs they did not perform live very often to hype up the crowd. DiScanio commented that after they were done touring this summer the band was going to sit down and start working on their new album.
From Tallahassee, Florida, this next band started out in 2006. Mayday Parade, an American rock band, performed with a giant banner that said, “Mayday Parade Is an Emotion” behind them. Starting out their performance with a personal favorite, “Oh Well, Oh Well,” the crowd sang their hearts out along with the band. During the performance, lead singer, Derek Sanders, commented, “When I was in middle school and high school, I was a loser. I didn’t have many friends. The first time I went to the Warped Tour, that’s when I felt I truly belonged. That’s what this show is about.” The crowd screamed in agreement. Mayday Parade put on an electric show that had everyone up and jumping around with them.
The last, but certain not least, band to perform at Sad Summer Festival was The Maine.
The Maine is a band from Tempe, Arizona that formed in 2007. Their set up before the performance was a fantastically dramatic one. A pink phone and boombox sat on a table that was covered by a pink tablecloth. Before the band came out, an audio tape played that had a phone dialing and then a dial tone. The band came out one by one, leaving the lead singer for last. The drum set read, “If you aren’t right now, you will be soon”. This went with the sign that the lead singer, John O’Callaghan, held that said, “You Are OK”, that related back to their newest album by that title. The group played a mixture of old songs with mostly newer songs. At one point in the performance, O’Callaghan stated, “Don’t take being alive for granted,” as the subject of mental health was brought up. O’Callaghan walked off stage after one of their songs to join the crowd. He talked about how the band he left on stage was his family and his best friends. This was proceeded by them playing their song called, “Another Night on Mars.” O’Callaghan wanted the crowd to get involved as much as they could. He said that even if they did not know the words to just sing whatever they wanted to sing. The volume level in the crowd increased 100 percent. After that song was over, he made his way back to the stage and continued to perform.
Sad Summer Festival was created to make a place where people felt like they belonged, much like Warped Tour. Now that Warped Tour is officially over, there is almost a missing aspect of a lot of people’s summers. Going to musical festivals much like Warped Tour and Sad Summer Festival is sometimes the only thing people look forward to during the summer months. People at the festival are welcoming and accepting. The bands that perform understand how feeling left out or being an outcast hurts. They understand what it is like to be down. They understand how difficult it is to ask for help or to speak up. Music festivals like Sad Summer and Warped Tour give chances to make someone feel like the belong, make them feel relieved that there are others that feel the same way as them, and it gives someone a chance to be heard. With bands continuing to support mental health awareness at these shows, these festivals could potentially make a huge impact in someone’s life. It might have been called “Sad Summer Festival”, but in all honesty, it was not so sad after all.