Gas Monkey Live was the place to be on Friday afternoon, day jobs be damned. We weren’t sure what to expect from an outdoor music festival at a venue that typically holds concerts indoors, but Sad Summer delivered something good.
The parking lot behind Gas Monkey Live was transformed into an emo paradise as sweat, sunscreen and sadness filled the air. Rather than making use of the indoor stage, the festival brought their own and set it up outside, just like Warped Tour. The festival area was lined with merch tents for each band, numerous vendors with free samples and loads of food trucks. The festival's inflatable 30-foot waterslide was looking pretty darn good after a few hours under the sun.
The lineup included opening acts Oh Weatherly, Stand Atlantic, Just Friends and Mom Jeans, with headliners Forever the Sickest Kids, The Maine, State Champs and Mayday Parade all performing back-to-back on a single stage. They organizers kept the set times quiet until the venue doors opened at 1 p.m., which has become the standard at these types of festivals, which don't want the majority of crowds showing up at the end of the day just to catch the headliners.
California-based act Just Friends brought the party with their brass-infused brand of power pop. They were an absolute force onstage, and the crowd followed every direction given by singer Sam Kless. This included putting our hands in the air, starting a conga line and separating into groups based on who likes Whataburger and who prefers In-N-Out. “Warped Tour’s over and Sad Summer’s in, bitches,” Kless exclaimed before launching into some sweet dance moves.
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North Texas natives Forever the Sickest Kids also put on a dynamic show. Frontman Jonathan Cook was wearing a full suit onstage and gave a shout-out to “the 35 men it took to put our banner up.” Their banner was an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper affixed to the stage backdrop that simply had the band’s name on it. They played fan favorites like “Whoa Oh!,” “Hey Brittany” and “She’s a Lady” and made it evident that they were relishing their time onstage after a two-year break from performing.
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Sad Summer saw a need for a downcast experience to continue post-Warped Tour and were able to effectively fill that void for a very reasonable ticket price. General admission tickets were only $35.The festival wants to use their platform to do some good by featuring a local nonprofit at each show and supporting them by asking for donations. Friday's event featured Paws in the City, the largest all-volunteer animal rescue center in North Texas.
The music was seemingly continuous. Each opening band’s set lasted only 30 minutes or so, and the stage changeovers were faster than lightning. Emo favorites like Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue” blared over the loudspeakers, and the crowd sang along enthusiastically. If you closed your eyes and forgot about the fact that a Studio Movie Grill was 100 yards away, you would have thought you had traveled back in (recent) time to the Vans Warped Tour. “It’s like we’re at the next-largest stage at Warped,” one concertgoer told us. “You know, the one with all the bands you really want to see.”
“This is dope as fuck and like the best day of my life,” said another enthusiastic fan. “We’re all bonding here because we’re sweating together.” Although many people came prepared to sweat it out in the Texas heat, several fans couldn’t get past it. “This would be the best show ever if it was indoors,” one young woman said. “These are my favorite bands in the world, but I’m so miserable.”
Isn't that the point of emo music?