Self Help Festival – Orlando – September 30th, 2017

A while ago in the beginning of September through early March, Self Help Fest will make a total of four appearances in Philadelphia, Orlando, Detroit, and San Bernardino. Self Help Festival is an event organized by one of the top rock bands in the scene, A Day to Remember. The festival promotes positive attitudes in the music scene and provides a home for the day for thousands of people. Luckily, I had the chance to attend the Orlando date, just a quick hop over from my home in Tampa. Bands who made an appearance at the Orlando date included, Underoath, State Champs, Streetlight Manifesto, Real Friends, The Story So Far, Atilla, Dance Gavin Dance, and of course, A Day to Remember.

The day started out a bit gloomy with overcast skies and packed traffic. But once I relaxed and walked inside the festival gates, I felt at ease. With two packed stages throughout the day, I always had something to do. The festival offered a wide variety of rock music, ranging from pop punk to metalcore. The crowds proved to be kind, and anyone could feel the positive spirit of the rock scene throughout it all. People were constantly helping one another crowd surf, lifting hands and feet to send them off. I’m not one to get too rowdy at a show, but I did like watching the mosh pits and everyone jumping together.

One thing I was surprised was there were no signs of vendors or outside companies within the festival. Most festivals I have been to have had booths or art to look at outside of the music, but this festival didn’t have anything but food, water, and music. No one seemed bothered by it because the music kept everyone busy. As far as the venue choice, the Central Florida State Fairgrounds, it was nice because there was plenty of grassy areas for people to sit, relax, and eat together. Another plus was the bathrooms, there were bathrooms. It was quite the relief.

Being a pop punk lover, some of the personal highlights for the day were State Champs, Real Friends, and The Story So Far. I have seen State Champs and Real Friends several times before but never let down with the performance. The two bands always attract and give off such a high energy that never fails to get a crowd’s blood pumping. State Champs also made the announcement they will be recording their third studio album soon, and for that, I am very excited. I had never seen The Story So Far but have always heard wonderful things about their live set. Within just a few moments, I was in love with the band. They had raw vocals and knew exactly what to do to get people attached and jumping. I must admit I have had them on repeat since the festival.

As the ultimate finale to the day, A Day to Remember closed out the show. Many of my friends listened to ADTR in high school, and I was never one to fully know their songs by heart. One thing I did know was their live show is one of the top productions in the game. I had seen them once before several years ago, and it is still one of my favorite shows to date. I knew I was in for a treat. They kicked off the show with one of their top singles, “All I Want” and immediately the crowd went ballistic. With all the lights, pyrotechnics, confetti, large beach balls, and top-notch musicians, no one left even slightly disappointed from this show. It wasn’t just a music set, it was an experience. I would highly recommend catching ADTR live any chance you get.

As I walked back to my car after the day, I felt at home and at peace. The festival did exactly what it was intended to do. It provided a safe place for me to fully emerge myself in the music scene and songs that I love. Thank you to A Day to Remember for orchestrating such an amazing day for thousands of people.


Photos and story by Elizabeth Stafford

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