Words by Joseph Tucker | Photos by Gaby Borrego
South By So What?! has had its problems in the past – in March of 2013 the stage setup was horrible, the sound from different stages intermingled and caused havoc; in October, Day 2 was rained out, which caused an uproar from angry fans and concert goers were caught off guard by the $20 cost for parking. This time around though, the festival was on point on all fronts.
Day 1 started off nicely. The weather was perfect and the lineup for the Tilly’s stage was incredible! Taking Back Sunday and The Used started their latest tour out at the festival and Adam was practically radiating with energy. Day 2 held insane performances by bands like Set The Sun, Close To Home, Get Scared and Issues. A huge thunderstorm made its way into Grand Prairie, which laid down around two inches of rain along with some wicked lightning and crashing thunder and the remaining acts were cancelled. Fans reacted as harshly to the cancellation as they had in October, but the festival leaders reasons were solid and true, the risk of a fan or artist getting hurt or killed was too great and so cancelling the show was the right thing to do.
The stage placement for both Day 1 and 2 were perfect but it ran into trouble for Day 3. Being As An Ocean, Hundredth, Neck Deep, Knuckle Puck, and The Story So Far all had to play facing the back of the stadium, away from the seating, VIP Elite rooms. The space between the AP stage and the back wall was not large and because of that the acts suffered overcrowding, with fans piling up on the sides of the barriers.
Day 3 had to be the worst day as far as weather went; it was cold and windy, acts had to hurry from the lounge to their stages then back to the lounge, and the fans had either huddled up together, were moshing to stay warm or had left due to the poor conditions. Knuckle Puck’s set was incredible, full of energy, and even featured a guest vocalist who was no other than Ben from Neck Deep! Being As An Ocean’s set was emotional and intimate with their lead vocalist climbing into the crowd for most of the set. Hundredth’s act was filled with energy and mischief and through it all, somehow their guitarist fell off stage, but only momentarily. Neck Deep’s set will be burned in my memory forever, they were so rad! Their live performance, I would say is equal to or better than their studio performance.
In the end, the festival was incredible and very enjoyable. I dont care if it rained or that it was around 30 degrees on the last day, I will be coming back to the festival as a journalist and a fan of music. South By So What?! is doing it right and other festivals should be emulating Third String Production’s lead.