An Open Letter to the Self Help Fest
To The Bands
On Sunday, September 10 the Self Help Fest returned to the city of Philadelphia with a line up that consisted of the founder’s of the venture A Day to Remember and a strong bill of supporting acts that included Underøath, Falling In Reverse, Moose Blood, Silverstein, Real Friends, Stray From The Path, Wage War, Angel Du$t, Can’t Swim, The Plot In You, Bad Omens, & Microwave. A heartfelt thank you goes out to A Day to Remember for the organization and execution of a success festival in a market that seemingly has an over-saturation of concerts these days. The day was full of incredible performances from all of the artists on the line up with everyone showing up for their fans despite having shortened sets due to the festival nature of the day. Whether it was the Main Stage or the Side Stage around the corner it felt like every artist had put in some homework in crafting the perfect setlist to attempt to appease all generations of their fans. The weather was perfect, the crowd was huge, the bands were flawless all day and yet there was a disconnect.
Sunday, September 10 was ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’ and the festival named ‘Self Help Fest’ it would be a no brainer that these two items would pair together but they didn’t. Logic’s “1-800-273-8255” has dominated the media in the last few weeks, Sunday was a perfect time for all of these artist to share a connection with their own fan-bases in the same light but the opportunity wasn’t taken by most of the performers and that was disheartening. If you listened to the conversations in between sets you would hear fans talk about how much Falling in Reverse, Silverstein & these other artist meant to them with a bunch even saying how some of the music had “saved their lives” on multiple occasions. There is no denying that mental health is still a sensitive subject but it takes putting an issue into the spotlight at an event like this to start the process of dragging it out into the light.
There was no need for the day to be an entire downer with suicide prevention being spotlighted all day but it certainly should have been addressed at some point during every artists set, there were a few passing moments during the day when it came up but it was sidelined as a whole. We get it, 30 minutes isn’t a long time on stage but playing one less song could have made the difference in a fan’s life and that should be the real message behind Self Help Fest – there was plenty of music and moshpits for fun but seemingly no time for a few minutes of reality. 2 minutes of talking about a difficult subject from each artist could have saved someone’s live. As an artist it easy to feel frustration at someone telling you what you should do with your stage time and that isn’t the goal here. This is a call for the stage to be used for something more than just music, for just art, it is a call for the stage to be used to bring up each other by talking about something that many people are afraid to talk about. We don’t need to be afraid anymore, the scene is a unit and by coming together at a festival like this it can be done.
To The Fans
A diverse crowd, of all ages and backgrounds from many walks off life came together for a shared experience of live music – there is no doubt that many in attendance were at their first concert and many more were at possibly their 10+. It is important not to generalize the crowd because as a whole there is no scene quite like the alternative and hardcore crowds. Those who go to these shows know the rules like the fact you always pick up the person next to you if they fall down and there was a lot of that on Sunday. So many in the crowd had a postive experience but for every great moment there were 5 or more that were negative for other’s in the crowd. The first issue happened early in the day as crowd surfers began to flow across the barricade after being promoted from Wage War, normally a non-issue but it became one quickly and not for a safety issue. It didn’t take long for female fans to hit the surfing, as they should and have right to do, but more often than not it turned into a session of groping by male fans with multiple women even having their shirts ripped up by the time they reached the barricade. So many artists have lashed out about this in the past few years and to see it happen all day in Philadelphia was disgusting – though it is important to note that it didn’t happen to everyone who surfed but there were certain packets where it happened every time to someone. It is wrong, disgusting and needs to stop – stay home if you are going to act like this at concerts because NO ONE wants you there.
The other issue happened during Falling In Reverse’s set when the crowd truly took disrespect to a whole new level. It is unrealistic to expect everyone at a show to like all the music as everyone has different tastes in music but going out of the way to be rude and belligerent during a set served no purpose. Take a second and think about your actions, remember Chester Bennington? Look at some of the last videos of him performing “Heavy” as the crowd booed and tossed beers at him. Is it truly worth acting out because you don’t like a song? Go get a water, a pretzel, or even just go to the back of the crowd and let those who want to be closer for that artist take your place. It is wrong to just call out the artists for not being progressive enough about mental health because that lies with the fans/crowd as well. Just because an artist isn’t what you like doesn’t mean you have to stand there giving them the middle finger as they perform their set, think before you act especially at an event called “Self Help Fest.” It is time to grow up and learn how to be respectful; until that happens the hardcore scene is going to continue to fall apart.
Self Help Fest was a lot of things and hopefully when it returns to Philadelphia the fans and bands will make it something truly incredible.