October 10, 2014 Self Help Festival Rips Through The Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing Philadelphia, PA 10-4-14
On October 4th 2014, A Day To Remember brought their second ever Self Help Festival into Philadelphia at The Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing. Self Help Festival Philadelphia is the Northeast edition of A Day To Remember’s amazing festival that themselves and management have put together. Begun in 2013 out in San Bernadino, CA, this year they took to the Northeast. Landing right in the middle of A Day To Remember’s headlining Parks & Devastation Tour, Self Help’s line-up A Day To Remember, Bring Me The Horizon, the Wonder Years, August Burns Red, Motionless In White, Crown The Empire, The Story So Far, Chiodos, Cruel Hand, and Gnarwolves, spread out over two stages one being called simply A and the other B Stage. Beginning at 2 PM on a very wet, chilly day, a sold out crowd of 9,000+ began pouring into the Festival Pier, running to grab and secure their spots right on the barricade of the stage where their favorite bands were about to play.
Beginning the day on Stage B was a three-piece, Pop-Punk band from Brighton, England by the name of Gnarwolves. Currently signed to Pure Noise Records, they a very high energy performance getting the crowd moving and energy levels boosted. The crowd did not know what to expect from Gnarwolves, as they never played a show in the United States before this one, as stated by vocalist/guitarist Thom Weeks and bassist/vocalist Charlie Piper. Excited to be in the USA playing a show for the first time, the band put on an incredible set and while their crowd may not been massive, they did, however, have those lucky enough to see them moshing. Gnarwolves exceeded the audience’s expectations of them by 100%, and it is definitely recommended to get out and see them on their first USA tour with The Wonder Years, The Story So Far & Modern Baseball.
Starting off Stage A with an incredible mind-blowing performance was six-piece, Michigan based, post-hardcore band Chiodos. Using every inch of the stage, they played a great eight song with an energetic presence, including songs for new to older fans with songs like “The Undertakers Thirst for Revenge is Unquenchable (The Final Battle),” “Thermacare,” “Ole Fishlips is Dead,” “Two Birds Stoned at Once,” “The Words Best Friend Becomes Redefined” and “3AM.” Vocalist Craig Owens and the rest were simply flawless as they kept the everyone on their feet throughout their entire set, singing along and crowd surfing. Ending their set with a fan favorite song, “Baby You Wouldn’t Last A Minute on The Creek,” before exiting the stage and leaving the crowd wanting more, as their roared in applause. Chiodos do what they do very well, and that is something people are definitely noticing as their following continues to grow.
From Portland, Maine, four-piece, hardcore band Cruel Hand was next up performing on Stage B. Currently signed to Hopeless Records, they opened their set up with a couple tracks off of their 2010 album Lock and Key ,and then continued into their newest musical endeavor, The Negatives. The audience seemed content with banging their heads along to the first few songs, until they hit the point on the set list with the more recognizable material, which really got everyone’s blood pumping.
The Story So Far
Next up was Californian, pop punk band, The Story So Far. Drawing a huge crowd, The Story So Far had everyone screaming from the moment they began with “Empty Space.” Conveying his happiness to the fans, lead vocalist Parker Cannon said, “It’s great to be back in Philadelphia,” and went into an intense singing output during “Quicksand” and “Things I Cant Change” without a break. Throwing fists in the area and pointing at fans, Cannon often extended the microphone to the audience, particularly towards the endless flow of crowd surfers, who were pouring out the lyrics to each song on their way to the front. Fans were plastered against one another from every angle in mosh, but all that did not seemed to matter to the young crowd, emotionally singing along to “Daughters” and “Stifled.” Hands outstretched, audience members desperately tried to make eye contact with the band, as they sang every word to their heartfelt tracks. Ending their set with “High Regard,” which featured a fan favorite line, “fuck an apology, I’m not sorry for anything,” seemed fitting as they exited the stage to the sea of people applauding.
Crown The Empire
Moving the day right along, the extremely talented Dallas, Texas outfit by the name Crown The Empire were ready to go. Spending the summer on Vans Warped Tour, Crown The Empire have been building a buzz and took the stage to their song “Initiation,” having the crowd immediately beginning to chant each word.. Crown the Empire put on a studio recorded performance, if not better, with incredible crowd engagement all the way through. Considering their debut full-length album The Resistance: Rise of The Runaways has only been out since July, the response was nothing else than remarkable. Led by vocal duo Andy Velasquez and David Escamilla, mixing melodic clean and heavy screams, the two conducted the crowd to jump into open pits, providing for an extremely pleasing output no one could deny.
Motionless In White
The next act scheduled was Scranton, Pennsylvanian’s Motionless In White. Signed to Fearless Records, initially a straight ahead metalcore act, the band has clawed and fought to the top, while progressing along the way into something vastly bigger than one could ever had imagined. Band leader/ vocalist Chris Motionless started off their heavy, seven-song popular track, “Immaculate Misconception.” Being that Pennsylvania is in fact their home state, a lot of family and friends graced the crowd, adding for more excitement. The band put on an exceptional performance, with the remainder of their set featuring more fan-favorites “Devil’s Night” and “Abigail,” along with new single “Reincarnate,” which seemed to really get everyone’s blood pumping, as Chris invited them to sing along. The sea of people crowd-surfed their way to the front while screaming along, making Motionless In White’s time nothing less than exhilarating.
August Burns Red
The final band to play Stage B at Self Help Festival was another Pennsylvania native, who goes by the name August Burns Red. Kicking off their set with a crazy techno beat, this well-respected act was ready to explode as they stimulated the crowd to move, and even some dancing along. The mood quickly transferred right into the face-melting brutality that is their trademark, with the track “Internal Cannon.” Giving the audience everything he had, band frontman Jake Luhrs puts on a show himself, with his unique microphone swinging throughout their entire set. Playing an eight song total that included: “Composure,” “Provision,” “Marianas Trench,” “Back Burner,” “Fault Line,” “Empire,” and closer “White Washed,” August Burns Red hardcore plumping was astounding to witness.
The Wonder Years
With only three bands left to go, Philadelphia’s own band, The Wonder Years, took to Stage A with much anticipation building, as their set commenced with a stunning performance of “Dismantling Summer.” Lead vocalist/ guitarist Dan “Soupy” Campbell displayed his character, as he used up every inch of the stage to run around when called on by the pace of the music. The hometown crowd enjoyed each moment, and they were off their feet jumping about or surfing along to the front. The Wonder Years twelve songs included: “Don’t Let Me Cave In,” “There, There,” “Its Never Sunny In South Philadelphia,” “The Devil In My Bloodstream,” with so much more, before pausing to assure the safety of a crowd surfer as they entered the finale, “Came Out Swinging.” Check them out on their current tour with The Story So Far, Modern Baseball & Gnarwolves.
Bring Me The Horizon
The time had come for one of the most popular bands in the extreme music scene at the moment, and that was the UK’s Bring Me The Horizon. Never failing to put on an adrenaline packed performance, fans just cannot seem to get enough of this band. With vocalist Oliver Sykes putting so much emotion into his vocals one could feel it, he does not fail to show supporters how much meaning is behind each of the songs. Supported by the talented band members, who also put all they have into their playing, the music bled through the night air. Their set was dominated by material from their 2013 release, Sempiternal, starting with “Shadow Moses” and continuing with “Go to Hell, For Heaven’s Sake” and “House of Wolves.” In fact, the only two songs of their ten-songs not from the new record were crowd rousing tracks “Chelsea Smile” and “Alligator Blood.” Fans loved every minute of their hour long set, forming mosh pits and crowd surfing while creating the wall of death in response to Sykes’ requests throughout his set. The melody of “Antivist” then began filling The Festival Pier, as Sykes requested for the crowd to get their middle fingers up in the air and fans began screaming their hearts out. They definitely continued to blow minds everywhere with a breathtaking performance and an incredible crowd response. Respected and appreciated in their own right, Bring Me The Horizon justifiably was the foundation to getting the crowds blood flowing and their energy levels boosted before the headliner and festival presenter, A Day To Remember, came on.
A Day To Remember
Completely rattled by each band to come through thus far, there was only one left and that was Florida’s A Day To Remember. Known for the incredible production put into their live shows, Self Help festival was no different as they erupted onto the stage with “The Downfall Of Us All”, with confetti fluttered down upon the crowd, covering them in color. Vocalist Jeremy McKinnon, full of fire, then stated, “Its time for the training wheels to fall the fuck off!” The band then went into the extraordinary song “2nd sucks.” Requesting everyone’s attention to surf the crowd, Mckinnon and company then went into “Right Back At It Again,” which followed with the sea of people, who began flowing up towards to the front throughout the entire song. Going into the next song, “City Of Ocala,” Mckinnon stated, “Since our equipment is malfunctioning due to some water on it, we gonna do this the old fashioned way,” followed by him leaping into the crowd with the mic stand and performed the next song in the entirely from the crowd. Welcomed back to the stage with applause, they went into more adored tracks including: “I’m Made Of Wax Larry,” “Monument,” and “Violence (Enough is Enough),” where their Mount Rushmore inspired backdrop began to move and show the words of the song on it.
Their amazing stage set altered during the course of the performance, with band member’s displaying an array of facial expressions to match the songs. The sky also changed throughout their set, and the eyes of the heads on the backdrop opened to reveal lights of different colors and varieties during certain songs. Adding a lighter tongue-in-cheek feel to the evening as well, they had some hilarious onstage antics throughout the night. Speaking of entertainment, about halfway through, during a pause between songs, “Macarena” by Los del Rio suddenly started playing through the speakers, and guitarists Joshua Woodard, Kevin Skaff & Neil Westfall led the crowd in the associated dance, before going into “Homesick” where McKinnon entered a hamster ball and walked the crowd from front to back. Wrapping things up with “All I Want,” they followed with two-song encore that began with “If It Means a Lot to You,” and ended with “All Signs Point To Lauderdale,” featuring a huge blast of confetti and streamers filling the air. As band left the stage, the background changed to display a message that read “Get The Fuck Out,” as a song by Ludacris played matching that statement.
Overall, Self Help Northeast Edition – Philadelphia was a major success for the fans and the bands, who all put on exceptional performances and gained new fans along the way. Now, everyone is looking forward to the return of Self Help in 2015.
Click on the albums below to read CrypticRock’s in-depth album reviews of each band