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All signs point to Orlando

Self Help Fest 2017

Self Help Fest 2017

Danielle Gamble

Self Help Fest 2017

Danielle Gamble

Danielle Gamble

Self Help Fest 2017

Danielle Gamble, Staff

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It’s fall now, but the Florida heat still makes it feel like summer. Despite the sweat running down backs and makeup running off faces, people still push closer together as they move towards the stages. It’s Sept. 30 in Orlando, and, at this very moment, all that matters is music. Race, gender, sexual orientation and age are all looked past as people come together to watch twelve bands play on two stages throughout the day. Not even rain deters fans from staying all the way through the headliner band’s set, where they finish the night by playing “All Signs Point to Lauderdale” as their third encore song.

The headliner band, A Day to Remember (ADTR), originated the Self Help Festival in 2014. It took place in San Bernardino, California. Their goal was to showcase bands who had a positive message in their music. Jeremy McKinnon, vocalist of ADTR, talks about the meaning of Self Help Fest: “It was just a festival we kind of put together based around the bands that we have toured with over the years, that we support or just bands in general that we love. It’s really just based around the fan base and what the music means to them. We are just trying to have a home base for all of those things under one festival—and that is Self-Help.” He goes on to say, “I just think it’s an escape from everything that’s going on in the world. That’s what music is to me, at least. [Self Help is] just a place where you can go and enjoy music that talks about real world problems that actually affect you. It’s a community.”

This event exists for both the musicians and the fans, as do most concerts, but it is not for bands who are greedy about money or fame. “It’s a big thing for us. We’ve always been a production band, or a band that wants to put on more of a show than just getting up there with a backdrop and collecting a check. We’re going to try to convince bands, as this continues to go, that the headliner needs to put on a show. Since we’re the headliners this year, we will be doing that,” says McKinnon. All of the bands on this lineup have lyrics that relate to real world struggles. They encourage their audience to help themselves and help others and that life is worth living. It is more than just music; it is a form of expression for the musicians who create the music and the people who listen to it.

“We build it around exactly what we want as [fans],” McKinnon says. “We always have a hand-picked dream list [for the lineup]. Honestly, that’s all it is. A few of us get together and put together the lineup that we think would be the coolest lineup of the year — people that we want to see.” Some of the headlining bands are bands that they listened to before they were even ADTR. Underøath and Less Than Jake are two bands that inspired ADTR to play shows. “Those are the bands we grew up listening to, the bands that inspired us. We’re always trying to bring in the stuff that inspired us [and] the things that we think are actually quality music from all of those past years that matter to us. We try to bring a super package. We have been trying to get Less Than Jake to play a show with us for years.”

This year, the event has expanded to Philadelphia, Orlando and Detroit. Each location has a slight variation of the bands on the line-up. Orlando’s line up this year consists of A Day To Remember, Underøath, The Story So Far, State Champs, Less Than Jake, Streetlight Manifesto, Moose Blood, Real Friends, Dance Gavin Dance, Attilia, Wage War, The Plot In You and Bad Omens.

Danielle Gamble
State Champs at Self Help Fest

The Central Florida Fairgrounds in Orlando is not far from A Day To Remember’s hometown of Ocala. This makes the first year of the event being in Florida more meaningful to the band. ADTR’s guitarist, Neil Westfall, states, “We are from here. We had to bring it home. A lot of times in Florida, tours tend to skip it over because it’s hard to get down here. We wanted to make it a point to bring something that we are really involved with down here.” Each year, the event has expanded. With the rate that it is growing, it might become the next Warped Tour.

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Danielle Gamble, writer

Danielle Gamble is a Staff Writer for The Hawkeye
Danielle Gamble was born in Lakeland, Florida in February of 1995. Gamble graduated from Lake Gibson...

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