This post was originally published for Indie Band Guru.
On the more hardcore side of punk the almost all day festival style concert brought out fans from across Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois to enjoy music from their favorite bands. For being the first Self Help Festival in Detroit, it drew in a huge crowd with fans of all ages. Kids dressed in oversized band t-shirts as young as five or six were on their parent’s shoulders in the middle of the general admission crowd. Parents could be seen along side groups of kids who definitely bought all their clothes at Hot Topic. Adults who have been loving the music their entire life were keeping up with the drunk 20-somethings scattered through the venue. At an event for your typical outcasts of society, Self Help Festival was an accepting place where everyone had one common bond- music.
Doors opened at 2 pm on the unseasonably warm October day. Lines were long and filled with red flannel shirts that it was probably too hot to wear paired more Vans and Converse than any person could count. Adults could be seen tailgating through the entire dirt parking lot. Lines to get into the venue were still snaking between rows of cars across the vast parking lot even at 3:30 pm.
While I was making my way across the venue with the help of an employee to get my ticket, he told me about a wedding happening just next door on the grounds. As we continued walking, he told me that they booked this wedding over a year ago. When Freedom Hill told the bride and groom about the Self Help Festival, they turned out to be fans of several bands playing!Self Help Festival provided the perfect lineup of punk and hardcore music to fill an entire Saturday afternoon.
Catching Of Mice & Men‘s set, it was easy to see the energy the crowd was going to carry the entire duration of the festival. The energy the band brought to the Black Stage as the last act on that stage was unbelievable. No matter where you were in the amphitheater the band made sure you were there to lose your mind. Next to the stage was filled with a wild crowd. Constantly moshing, creating circle pits and crowd surfers flying over the top, the crowd Detroit brought out was insane. Even those sitting in the seats of the amphitheater were actively engaging with the music. Bobbing their heads and singing along, there was no true bad place to be during Of Mice & Men‘s set.
After the Black Stage closed down, the Red Stage was filled with everyone from the festival. Underoath was tasked with getting the entire festival ready for the next three bands to take that stage. The post-hardcore band really set the tone for the rest of the night. With such a large crowd, Underoath had no problem with this. Crowd surfers were constantly going up and making their way across the massive crowd. Even someone dressed in a dinosaur costume (that had an added red mohawk) was a crowd favorite to see.
Pierce The Veil was really the first band to unify the entire crowd. Third from the end, they were practically a headliner for the night and it showed in the crowd. When the band took the stage, fangirl screams could be heard through the entire crowd. While ear piercing, it started Pierce The Veil‘s set off with such a rush. It was clear from the start that the band had a stage presence like no other. For such a huge stage the entire band (minus the drummer because they can’t really move) was running around for the entire 45 minutes of their set.
The real big moment of their set was playing “Caraphernelia,” their track featuring Jeremy McKinnon (A Day To Remember). The crowd went absolutely nuts when the opening chords played. With the roar of the crowd, McKinnon took the stage just a few minutes before A Day To Remember was scheduled to perform.
When Pierce The Veil left the Red Stage, the speakers that matched the entire height of the stage began blasting “I Want It That Way.” The festival is on the heavier side of music, the entire crowd still sang along (personally I screamed along and my friends were embarrassed to know me). Moments before A Day To Remember went on, the speakers filled with “Turn Down For What” and the crowd went absolutely nuts for the bass drop.
Suddenly the lights went down, bringing the entire stage to total darkness. A deep voice began speaking from the stage. “A Day To Remember are about to play in me,” the stage boomed bringing the entire crowd to laugh. Right when you thought the band was going to take the stage, “Ride of the Valkyries” echoed over the crowd. Playing for almost an entire minute, it definitely caught the crowd off guard.
Finally, A Day To Remember took the stage. The crowd erupted into a storm of screams that rivaled the thunder later that night. No longer than it took the entire band to run onto the stage was there the first confetti explosion of the night. The white streamers flew through the air contrasting the dark night sky when hitting the bright stage lights.
This crowd was arguably the hypest crowd of the night. Consistently having people surfing over the entire crowd, blow up aliens and dolls circling more than the crowd surfers and beach balls small and large bouncing all over, this crowd gave A Day To Remember their all. Being the founders of the festival, there was no quiet moment for the duration of their entire set. For over an hour this crowd kept up the momentum and still had energy left for Rise Against.
The quietest moment of the hour-long set was during “If It Means A Lot To You.” A more acoustic song- until the drop at the end- the crowd settled down for a few minutes. Singing along, the entire crowd gave it their all, vocally swaying along with friends and loved ones.
Ending their set, contrasting the feeling of “If It Means A Lot To You,” McKinnon yelled into the microphone “I want to hear the Earth f***ing shake” and “everybody jump,” to finish out their set. The crowd went absolutely insane, more than any other point of the night. Screaming at the top of their lungs, jumping around and starting the most intense most pit of the night, the crowd ended A Day To Remember’s set on an absolute high note and another confetti blast. The colorful confetti decorated the night sky more than the stars.
Rise Against‘s set was just as insane as A Day To Remember‘s. People were climbing up the lifts holding lights and on top of porta-potties to get a better glimpse of the action on stage. Even a police officer was standing on a fence recording and taking pictures.
The rain was constantly coming and going in random spirits of down pouring bringing in that true Michigan weather for all the bands to see. This didn’t stop anyone in the crowd from having a good time or Rise Against from skipping a beat of their set.
The night could not have ended any better than everyone jumping to every Rise Against song. With nothing but intense energy for the entire hour and some long set, they brought more than enough energy to end a day that was packed full of great music. Their performance was so memorable that it will keep people coming back to Self Help Festival for years to come.