As the scene kids said goodbye to the Vans Warped Tour in 2019, they can happily say hello to what we can only hope is the first of many Sad Summer Festivals. 2019 welcomed the first ever U.S. run of Sad Summer Festival hitting big cities such as Dallas, Orlando, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago and many others. Hosting many big name pop, alternative and pop-punk bands such as The Maine, Mayday Parade, State Champs and The Wonder Years, with special hometown acts appearing in different cities.
Sad Summer worked with tons of non-profits local to each city and bringing people together in their own communities. SSF worked with names such as Lost-N-Found Youth in Atlanta collecting donations for the homeless LGBTQ community as well as Asbury Park teaming up with L.E.A.D DIY spreading awareness to those sensitive to strobe lighting at shows.
SSF also worked hard on partnering with Our Music My Body to create a set of rules allowing everyone to feel safe and in control of their own bodies. SSF was committed to making everyones experience fun and safe while creating an “Anti-Harassment Policy” for ease of mind in the crowds.
I had the opportunity of attending and covering the Philadelphia date of SSF on July 13th, held at The Mann Center on The Skyline Stage. To my surprise when I walked in, everything seemed so professional, and well thought out as though this festival had been going on for years.
The doors opened at 1pm and music began promptly at 2.
Philadelphia hosted the following bands:
- Worriers – Brooklyn, NY
- Just Friends – Dublin/Pleasanton, CA
- Stand Atlantic – Sydney, Australia
- Mom Jeans – Berkeley, CA
- State Champs – Albany, NY
- Mayday Parade – Tallahassee, FL
- The Maine – Tempe, AZ
- The Wonder Years – Philadelphia, PA
People began to flood in throughout the day and each band had a significantly large crowd. Since there was only one stage, attendees were able to see and experience all the bands performing that day. This is such a beneficial part to both the bands and the fans. Bands are able to perform to larger audiences and make new fans, and the fans are exposed to a potential new favorite band. The changeover for each set was quick and efficient allowing the fans to chat amongst their friends, grab a bite to eat or refill their water, without waiting what feels like ages for the next band to play.
Experiencing my first Sad Summer Fest in Philly was definitely special to me. The energy in Philly from crowds is something I have never experienced anywhere else. Hometown heroes and my personal favorites, The Wonder Years, closed out their hometown with an unforgettable performance.
Their setlist contained more of their “sad” songs than normal, which is fitting for the festival it is extremely strange for TWY, yet they were still able to keep the crowd moving throughout the night. Dan “Soupy” Campbell ended the set with “I Just Want To Sell Out My Funeral” which is a seven minute song making the crowd think it was the end of their set. A few minutes later, after many people had exited the venue, they came back out and officially closed with “Washington Square Park” which is a significantly more upbeat song. I personally had left before the encore because my friend and I wanted to beat the traffic, however when I heard them come back on stage, I ran back into the crowd for one last mosh pit.
Overall, Sad Summer Fest was an unforgettable day. I can only hope this becomes a tradition and I can watch this festival evolve into something bigger with each passing year. This would not be possible without the love from the bands willing to do this tour, the fans who came out each day, and all the staff and crew involved in making this happen each day for a month.