LIVE: So What?! Festival @ Grand Prairie, Texas

By Lais

First things first: if you’re not familiar with So What?! festival, here’s the lowdown. They started off nine years ago, but back then they were called South By So What, an alternative to South By South West in Austin, Texas. They’re based in Quiktrip Park, a baseball stadium which is about 15 minutes from Dallas, and this year runs for two days: the first being the more pop punk of the two, and the second being more metal-based.

Although So What?! is a two-day event, they kick it off early with a pre-party at The Door in Dallas. When your pre-party consists of Set Your Goals and Knuckle Puck, you know you’re doing it right. Knuckle Puck manage to make the show despite having played a show earlier that day at SXSW in Austin (which was killer, in case you’re wondering). After Knuckle Puck smash their set, Set Your Goals take to the stage, and chaos ensues. With guest vocals from Chad from New Found Glory, the most acrobatic stagedivers I’ve ever seen, and a girl crowdsurfing in an inflatable swan, it’s a hell of a way to kick off So What?! fest.


The main event starts with the more pop punk-based day of the two on the Saturday. It’s a solid line up, which sees Milk Teeth, Major League, Seaway, This Wild Life, Have Mercy, Turnover, Knuckle Puck, Citizen and Real Friends absolutely tear up Main Stage 1 for the whole afternoon. Over on the Imaginary Idols Clothing stage, Too Close To Touch and A Will Away particularly stand out.

On Main Stage 2, Miss May I draw a big crowd and then incite numerous moshpits and crowdsurfers, before Escape The Fate take after them. With bangers like ‘Gorgeous Nightmare’ and their new single ‘Remember Every Scar’, they cause both moshpits and anthemic singalongs, which is basically the best of both worlds. It seems like the bands who don’t fit in with the rest of the day’s overall pop punk vibe have just as many fans there to see them, and it’s good to have a little variety.

The best band of the day  are State Champs on Main Stage 2. They play as the sun is going down over the festival, and it’s a pretty special moment. With bangers like ‘Perfect Score’ and ‘All Or Nothing’ off their new album ‘Around The World And Back’, the crowd go off, and it’s an incredible atmosphere. Frontman Derek DiScanio’s voice is on point, and ending on ‘Elevated’ is the perfect finale to a short but sweet set.

Next on Main Stage 2 are Neck Deep, who draw the biggest crowd of the day. It’s pretty wild to see a band from the UK doing so well in America, and it’s definitely something to be proud of. The kids here absolutely love them, and they play their pop punk anthems enthusiastically. This is the last date of their world tour with State Champs, and it’s a great finale. With catchy songs like ‘Can’t Kick Up The Roots’, this is only the beginning for them.

Last but not least today are the mighty New Found Glory, who are just as surprised as anyone that despite being incredibly sunny, Texas can get extremely cold in the night time. Around halfway through the set, Chad complains that his hands are so cold he can’t play anymore, but nevertheless, they power through. NFG are basically incapable of playing a show that isn’t ridiculously good fun to watch, and tonight is no exception. From certified bangers like ‘Dressed To Kill’, to a fan request for them to play their cover of ‘My Heart Will Go On’, to their finale of ‘My Friends Over You’, this is a solid NFG crowd-pleasing set, and nobody leaves disappointed.

However, this isn’t the end for So What?! fest round one, because the guys at Emo Night LA have brought the afterparty to The Door in Dallas. With guest DJ sets from Have Mercy, State Champs and Neck Deep, it’s just as chaotic as you might expect, and a very fitting end to a fun day.


Back to Quiktrip Park for round two of So What?! fest on the Sunday afternoon, and today is considerably busier. It’s clear to see that the more metal end of the spectrum is more popular in these parts, because the festival is a completely different beast today.  With bands like He Is Legend, Stray From The Path and Chunk! No Captain Chunk!, it’s a strong start to the day.

The Word Alive, Dance Gavin Dance and Silverstein all put on great shows, and then Beartooth come on to Main Stage 2 and absolutely tear it to shreds. Although they haven’t been around that long, they’ve gathered a huge fanbase already, and the crowd go wild for them. Songs like ‘In Between’ and ‘Body Bag’ are so huge that there are endless crowdsurfers and crazy singalongs throughout their set. A huge success.

Next are The Devil Wears Prada on Main Stage 1, who sound just as massive as ever. They draw a huge crowd and people go absolutely wild for them. Their sound is heavy, and although there’s a little less crowd interaction than I’ve seen them give before, it’s an absolute triumph. Next up are Saosin, back with original singer Anthony Green. They sound great, and people are beyond psyched to see them playing together. Green talks a lot about how he’d had an energy drink before they’d gone onstage, and he’s definitely not quite on the same planet as everyone else. Nevertheless, it’s pretty damn entertaining, and their set is great.

And finally, what everyone’s been waiting for: Underoath. The band are back together, and they’re reunited with drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie. You’ve never seen a crowd more excited, and there are tears of emotion throughout. They play their two most popular albums, ‘They’re Only Chasing Safety’ and ‘Define The Great Line’, which hadn’t been announced, so the excitement is palpable. The highlights of the set are ‘A Boy Brushed Red Living In Black And White’ and ‘Reinventing Your Exit’, which set off some truly anthemic singalongs.

A wonderful finale to a fantastic weekend. Bring on So What?! fest’s tenth anniversary next year.