On Saturday afternoon, thousands of screaming mostly-black-clad fans will pile into the NOS Events Center to see some of their favorite bands.
A decade ago, this scene might’ve been a stop on Warped Tour or perhaps Taste of Chaos. But these days, Warped Tour features poppy YouTube stars unfamiliar to anyone over the age of 22, and Taste of Chaos only recently came back into existence. That’s exactly why A Day to Remember decided to hold their own festival, and it’ll be the third annual Self Help Fest.
“It’s based around the fan base of our band and the genre we play in,” says Jeremy McKinnon, ADTR’s frontman. “We wanted to put together something that would take care of the bands as much as it takes care of the fans. Our motivation to do it every year really comes from the fans. They come back to this music to get through tough times in their lives.”
This year’s lineup features artists like Yelawolf, the Wonder Years, and August Burns Red aside from ADTR, but there are two other bands that have been getting the most attention. Underoath will be playing one of the first shows of their reunion tour, and Further Seems Forever will have one of their most beloved lineups back together for the first time in what certainly seems like forever.
“When we’re having a festival, we can go after bands that we loved growing up,” McKinnon says. “This year we’ve got Underoath. We’ve got the original lineup from How to Start a Fire for Further Seems Forever. All these bands doing these tours of their classic albums, that’s part of what sparked the idea for this festival in the first place.”
Of course, while those other bands will be getting back together, ADTR never left. Since their debut album in 2005, the Florida quintet has released a record every 2-3 years and toured frequently in between. Despite dealing with record label drama and the loss of a couple members, the fate of ADTR has never been up in the air, and they’ve always made it clear they won’t be stopping anytime soon. According to McKinnon, the secret to keeping a group together for 13 years is simple communication.
“It’s one of those situations where you’re either going to grow personally or not,” McKinnon says. “You have to be friend and have to be able to talk openly about things. You have to talk to each other like you’re family, or you’re not going to last.”
It’s that calm resolve that makes the metalcore band perhaps the perfect group to host a festival. While other bands may allow the necessary planning and details of running a huge show to make them uneasy and drive them apart, McKinnon and crew simply continue to improve Self Help Fest every year. Rather than expanding it too quickly and watching it collapse, ADTR is first making sure they get all the bugs out of their current version.
“We’re just working on making it run smoother,” McKinnon says. “We had a problem before where it took forever to get people on the grounds, so we’re working on that. You don’t want to have to think about any of that when you’re at the festival, so we’re trying to plan for it better.”
As for those thousands of fans who hopefully won’t have to wait in line too long this year, McKinnon knows that they’re in for a treat. Aside from the lineup itself, there’s a certain energy that comes from having all of the bands and fans together that pushes everyone to perform their absolute best. If you ever had side-swept bangs and wondered what you’d look like with snakebites, it’s probably going to be a great afternoon and evening for you.
“It’s solely based around our genre of music,” McKinnon says. “If you’re not used to seeing that, I don’t think you’ll enjoy it. But every time we’ve done it in San Bernardino, it’s been a special show. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve seen some of the best sets from a lot of these bands at this festival. There’s something about it that makes it special.”
After the festival, most bands will head back out on the road to continue their current tours. ADTR, on the other hand, will still have well over a month to recover before their next tour kicks off at the end of April. If anyone deserves a little time off, isn’t it the hosts of the party?
“I’m not really sure what we’re going to do,” McKinnon says. “Right now, we’ve just been kicking back and chilling. I’m actually in the process of building a studio with the band’s engineer.”
Tickets for Self Help Fest cost $44.50 and are available (along with more information) on the Self Help Fest website.