So What?! 2016 had so much to offer: a killer lineup, great merch, awesome sponsors and causes, and an amazing venue. Bands played from 11:00am to 11:00pm making it twelve straight hours of greatness. The venue was a baseball stadium and the guys at South By made great use of it, opening the food spots up for the concert-goers as well as a bar on the second floor with indoor bathrooms. If you go to festivals you know how great having indoor plumbing for these events are. It had two massive main stages and one side stage, all which exhibited great bands new and old.
Day 1 started off with Trevor Tatro of Outline in Color coming outside the gate to tell everyone how important the fans are and to come see his band. They were the first group I checked out and I’m glad I did. The day followed with Capture the Crown, The Plot in You, Major League, Secrets, Seaway, This Wild Life, Slaves (above), Emery, Miss May I, Turnover, Knuckle Puck, Escape the Fate, Citizen, Blessthefall, State Champs, Bayside, Neck Deep, New Found Glory, and many many more.The side stage presented many local bands, as well as up and coming bands such as Hotel Books and Cali.Co. This festival as a whole was well scheduled in terms of set times, with only five minute changeovers between bands. I only saw one band start late the entire two days and there were even bands that started early, which as a fan these things are important.
The experience of day one led fans perfectly into the craze that was day two. Day two meant you were probably a little sunburnt (regardless of it being around 50 degrees as a high for the weekend) and very tired, but you came out to see great bands anyway. Every single band for both days delivered incredible shows. Some bands were on tour already, such as Saosin, Emarosa, and Slaves, while others like New Found Glory, Bayside, Artifex Pereo, and Emery traveled just to play this festival. Day two also included the comeback of Underoath, and while they did not allow any photographers, they did make the show worth it. I met multiple people that came from other states and countries just for Underoath. The day also brought the heavy hitters such as Saosin (with the return of Anthony Green), The Devil Wears Prada, and Dance Gavin Dance (with Tilian Pearson).
All ages were welcome at the festival. I saw older fans as well as couples with babies (of course with protective headphones). I saw strollers and I saw a guy with a torn ACL on crutches. Fans were the real troopers at this event, regardless of the cold and windy weather. Many (like myself) did not plan on the 50 degree windy weather of course, so it was smart on the merch tents part to sell hoodies, sweaters, and beanies (all of which I ended up buying). There seemed to be minimal injuries despite the call for crowd surfing, circle pits, and walls of death by the bands, which made it such a great success.
In addition to the two main stages and the side stage, far off on one side of the venue was an acoustic stage. Although at first it may seem to be poorly placed, it made sense because it was the best place to be able to hear an acoustic set. It featured groups such as Icarus the Owl and Uh Huh Baby Yeah, the latter of which even got the crowd to walk in a circle as a type of slowed-down circle pit. This stage was a nice break from the high-energy main stages and featured some very talented musicians.
I traveled over 15 hours to make it to Dallas to cove So What?! and it was every bit worth it. The bands gave fantastic performances, many of which I gladly crossed off my “Bands To See” list. I also got to meet some incredible people, both locals and travelers. The venue was probably my favorite part, as the turf was really great because it didn’t mean grass getting stomped down to a dust bowl by the second day and allowed for a comfy space for attendees to sit and lay down to take a break or watch from afar. The stadium also had seats all the way around so you could watch from any view. Overall, So What?! 2016 was a complete success and I would encourage anyone to go in the future.
Full Gallery with Photos from Ambre Rogue here