Self Help Festival @ Festival Pier At Penn’s Landing

PHILADELPHIA, PA—The second Self Help Fest took place months after its premiere early last year in California. Hitting the Northeast hard, the festival was headlined by A Day To Remember, who brought along Self Help alum Bring Me The Horizon and a full lineup that spanned the entire day.

Along the water at Festival Pier in Philadelphia, two stages housed the event, which allowed for no real set change between acts. Truly starting the day off was Chiodos, who surprised not only myself, but many in their early set. If you had been inside the gates, you would have been lucky enough to see the mayhem that ensued as reported to me by a fellow photographer of the day. However, Chiodos is one of those bands that sound amazing no matter where you stood.

With their new album, Devil, in tow, Chiodos had plenty of material to pull from for their short set. With “3AM” and “Ole Fishlips Is Dead” mixed with the older material, no fan was left wanting. Ending their set on “Baby You Wouldn’t Last A Minute On The Creek,” it brought this past year full of tour dates to a close in the States.

Throughout the day, bands kept the music going with a mix of post-hardcore, pop punk and all in between from bands like Crown The Empire, Cruel Hand and Pennsylvania’s own August Burns Red. They came out in full Philadelphia Eagles’ shirts, which triggered an insane response from the audience almost immediately. They ended their set on “White Washed,” which also closed out the second stage for the night.

The Wonder Years was a special treat on this tour, bringing the tempo a bit more lighthearted with some positive motivation for fans. Looking back on their own careers, they encouraged fans to follow what they love, especially if it’s starting a band. It was definitely a night of love in the city of Brotherly Love as The Wonder Years were also on tour in support of their new album, The Greatest Generation, with Self Help bands The Story So Far and Gnarwolves.

The night sky had fully set in and brought a strong chill off the water that most of the crowd fought to stay warm in for the last two bands. Bring Me The Horizon had an impressive lights and video setup that could have been seen by passersby from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge overhead. The whirling spirals and haunting images aided in the control singer Oli Sykes had over fans as he whipped them in a frenzy that culminated in a large ‘wall of death.’ Last year’s release, Sempiternal, filled their set and before you knew it, BMTH was saying goodnight and making way for the headliners.

A Day To Remember was a nonstop bag of tricks with one of the biggest stage setups I’ve seen in a while from others in the genre. There was a delay in taking the stage and the cold chill that filled the air seemed to get worse in the wait. But all was forgotten at the first few notes of “Downfall Of Us All” hit and a mass of rainbow colored confetti exploded from the stage.

ADTR adorned the stage with fake trees, grass and a Mount Rushmore featuring their faces, which changed throughout the set via clever projections. Interesting was during a brief break, their faces donned sombreros for a quick audience “Macarena” session. Singer Jeremy McKinnon even became a bubble boy, rolling across fans with crowd surfers alongside. Making sure to include the hits as “Homesick” and “All I Want,” ADTR ended the night with a brief encore that gave people one last chance to warm up in the pit.