Sad Summer Festival Comes to Pittsburgh on Hot July Day

review and pix Abigail McNatt ©  2019

After the conclusion of Warped tour, pop-punk fans all over sat in sorrow, mourning the loss of their favorite annual summer event. In came a new festival, in hopes of keeping the memory alive and running, as if warped never ended. Hence, Sad Summer Festival was born. With a lineup of numerous well known and highly followed bands within the pop/punk world, we welcome the newest music festival and hope that it brings those same feelings Warped tour brought those who attended each year.

Jetty Bones hit the stage first. Jetty Bones, also known as Kelc Galluzzo, is from a small town in Ohio called Urbana. The “project” is made up of Kelc and her closest friends and they perform all over the country. The official name for the genre they/she falls into is Alternative/Indie and I could definitely agree with that, although I’d also say she’s got a bit of funky pop in the mix as well. I really loved her set, as did the audience. Also, Kelc has the COOLEST hair which made for some great photos.

Prior to doors, fans were completely unaware of set times, which was something the festival tried to keep consistent in order to encourage fans to come for the whole day. From show to show, the lineup was pretty much in the same order, just interchanging bands in different cities.

Next, on the roster, we had California natives, Just Friends. If I were to say anything I thought stood out about them versus the other bands playing that day, it would be their unique sound and stage dynamic. They were all over the place and I could not keep up with the members. There were SO many of them. They are considered “sparklepunk”, which essentially is a style that takes pieces of emo-style pop paired with rock guitar chords. They all had shirts that said JF on the front and a large “CREW” on the back. Quite the interesting band to continue the show, but the fans were in the zone, while also trying to stay hydrated and alive from the dangerously hot weather.

Continuing on on this unruly hot day, we had Stand Atlantic, from Sydney Australia. They kind of had a heavier Paramore vibe to them. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that they’re female-fronted, I don’t know. According to their Facebook page, they’re considered Alternative pop/rock, which actually surprised me. I definitely think they threw in a good bit of punk into their sound, especially with the powerful vocals of lead singer, Bonnie Fraser. They brought a lot of energy to the stage and had some cool backdrops that said: “if you can read this… hi we are Stand Atlantic”. They put on a fun set and kept the crowd on their feet.

I thought the coolest thing I saw when I walked into the doors at the show was all of the different tents. I know Warped tour did tons of different tents, some with bands and their merch, and some with specific “classes” taught by different artists in the industry. It was nice to see that SSF was keeping the tents alive. Lines to meet the bands at the tent were insanely long at the beginning, but well worth it for each of the smiles on their faces.

Up next, we had rock/indie/emo band, Mom Jeans, from Berkeley, California. They had a lot more mild of a sound than I expected from them. They added a cool acoustic vibe that complimented their lyrics quite well. Not having been familiar with at least the first half of the day’s lineup, each band was a surprise to me. Mom Jeans really was because a majority of the people who came out for Just Friends, came out for them, which had me so confused. But the crowd never skipped a beat.

The Wonder Years played next, thus beginning the ‘headliner’ portion of the night. They made a couple jokes about Pittsburgh, mainly because they are proud of their hometown heritage in Philadelphia. The beginning acts were all of various genres with a hint or so of punk inter-mixed into their sound. Starting now, we begin the pop/punk heavy part of the festival. This also was the true start to the crowd surfing, which meant we had to watch our backs. Despite being early evening and it being a really hot day, the first chords of their set kept the crowd going, releasing their adrenaline.

Up next onset we had The Maine. In case you don’t know who they are, The Maine is an alternative band originating from Tempe, Arizona. Their pink and black aesthetic was so cool. Aside from the 1975, I’ve never really seen a consistent theme like they had on stage, and they were all wearing white. It was absolutely beautiful to watch. I personally admire and like to listen to The Maine and it was fun to watch their set. Along with their colorful aesthetic, they also had a consistent theme of “Are You Ok?” And “You Are Ok”, with a focus on depression and suicide. Out of all the bands during the show, they were definitely my favorite band of the day, alongside State Champs. They put on a very entertaining set. Lead singer, John O’Callaghan, even did a gender reveal for a couple they’d talked to before the show started. It was a girl! Later on in their set whenever they played their 2008 hit, “Girls Do What They Want”, they brought up a local band lead singer (and personal friend of mine), Shane Turner, to sing the bridge with them. Like the couple, Shane had talked to John prior to the show and it ended up working out. Shane has a great voice and it was really cool of them to be so interactive with the crowd, which of course they ate up.

Our second to last act of the night was Mayday Parade. They are another very popular rock/emo/indie band. I’ve seen them 3 times now and they’re entertaining to watch. Derek Sanders, the lead vocalist, never fails to enter the stage in the same fashion… bare feet. I’ve never seen anything like it before. They bring such an energy to their shows, and that goes for each member of the band. I’ve had such a good time shooting them the numerous times that I have. They tend to have a semi-mild sound, but that doesn’t keep the crowd surfers away.

Last but certainly not least, we had State Champs to close out the show. Whatever energy the audience had left from the day, they let it all out for State Champs. They brought the pop/punk sound and crowd surfing was in full force. They always put on a fun show, and I’ve seen them now 3 times as well. The last time I did was the college show I helped put on not 6 months ago. The SC fans are so passionate and get deep into it and it’s as enjoyable to watch as it is scary, haha. They provided the perfect ending to what was a long, hot, fun, and music-filled day. Overall, the verdict on Sad Summer Festival is overwhelmingly positive. I’m curious to see what the lineups look like for next year, and hopefully years to come. Just looking around at all the faces glued to the stage, walking around at the tents, running back from the pit to crowd surf yet again, it was a day they’d certainly never forget. If you didn’t make any of the dates this year, definitely jump on those tickets if they coordinate one next year. Here’s to putting on another fantastic festival in 2020!