A Pros & Cons Views Of The 9th Annual So What!? Festival

So What!?
March 19-20, 2016
Quik Trip Park- Grand Prairie, TX

9th Annual So What!? Festival
A Pros & Cons View

     The trip started early for my cohort & I as we took off towards Dallas, Tx on the 18. Leaving beautiful Corpus Christi to travel 6 hours north to Grand Prairie, Tx for the 9th Annual So What? Music Festival…We arrived to our Motel and immediately settled down for the evening to prepare for an all-day event of heart pounding, ear splitting Rock -n- Roll music, put on by Third String Festivals, Revolver, FireBall, Imaginary Idols, Headliners & many more.

Awaking the day of show; the weather became quite grim. At least for a couple southern Texans it is. Arriving at the venue the parking lot was already becoming filled pretty quick, small groups of people walked with a rush while they spoke to each other laughing, skipping & jumping their way to the venue. Some wore crotch short shorts and t-shirt while wrapping their selves in blankets they brought along to shelter their bare skin from the 40-degree weather & even colder wind-bursts. One must wonder JHW_8653what they may have been thinking… Walking into the venue it became completely evident a lot has changed, other than the fact the festival this year is a day shorter than the previous South by So What!?. The percussion of the music could be felt in the chest as the bass & drums kept time together. Fans were gathered around each stage anxiously awaiting to hear some of their favorite music from some of their favorite bands of their time… Gazing across the crowd I began to recognize various faces from previous years of fans & employees & media outlets alike. Tons of merchandise stands lined the corridors of the QuickTrip Ballpark.


Line Up

PRO: The Music was quite diverse for as far as the rock, punk & hardcore bands go. And the diehard fans who stuck-it-out hardcore and braved the bitter, unforgiving cold wind; were entertained with the likes of New Found Glory, Unwritten Law, Neck Deep, Bayside, State Champs, Fenix TX, Hotel Books, Real Friends, BLESSTHEFALL, Escape the Fate, Miss May I, Emery, Slaves & Knuckle Puck along with 38 other hard rocking bands, pleasing the masses in attendance. But this was only the first day, Ladies & Gentlemen. Day 2 was a whole other animal with a bigger lineup than the previous day. Kicking ass on a musical level, March 20th was filled with 52 other hardworking, hard-hitting bands. The thrilled crowd was much larger on the 2nd day. An ocean of people could be seen traveling the AstroTurf from band to band, back & fourth, stage to stage… The Rockstar Energy Drink tent was considerably smaller this year as oppose to last’s, but completely full of fans & media, starving for a “pick-me-up” during the last few hours of the show… Again those who stuck it through til the night came were treated with the music of Underoath, Saosin, The Devil Wears Prada, Silverstein, Dance Gavin Dance, Born of Osiris, A Lot Like Birds, Monuments, The Word Alive, Beartooth, Fire from the Gods and a plethora of other hard-rocking musicians looking to please the crowd…

CON: IT’S TOO COLD IN MARCH! March in Grand Prairie is generally cold, and often rainy. Luckily this year’s fans were spared the rain, and only had to deal with the cold wind… I think the So What!? (South by So What!?) Music Festival would gain more ground if they held the festival closer to the ending of April or the beginning of June. I believe they would gain more ticket sales, more vendors, more entertainment if it wasn’t in March & so close to the ever-so-famous South by South West Music Festival; taking place in Austin, Texas, the exact same time as the So What!? festival in Grand Prairie, TX… Though the music was diverse for being subgenres of rock & metal, it could have been a lot more diverse, like the previous year; which hosted a wider range of genres & sub genres… About 35% of the bands in attendance this year were there last year and the year before… Let’s shake it up a little, people! There was no “nonmusical” entertainment this year nor the previous years like traditional festivals who have a few carnival rides, games etc… etc…



PRO: What was lacking on the General Admission floors they made up for up by the merchandise stands by opening a couple food courts that were closed the previous year…. Some damn good Bar-B-Q Sandwiches were being made & sold for a cost. Bottled water was reasonably priced, and if you were broke you could always hit up the free Rockstar Energy Drink tent.

CON: Not much of a variety to choose from, what was sold at one vendor was being sold at another. With the exception of one JHW_0096overly priced taco-stand, selling 2 small tacos for 6$. Not much of a bargain and they kept running out of ingredients, causing them to compromise the taste of the food with alternative ingredients. Most of the food costs were a little high, 6 dollars for 1 sandwich and no sides… Liquor & Chewing tobacco vendors took the place of last year’s wonderful food vendors that lined the general admission floors



PRO: There were 3 stages total. Stages #1 & #2 were placed back to back & both stages were perfect height for the photojournalists with the big lenses in the back of the photo-pit. And even perfect for the shorter photographers who made their way to the front of said photo-pit with smaller lenses, in a sea of 30-40 photographers. The 3rd stage was placed off to the side of 1 and 2, and played home to a lot of the calmer genres. The performances all together were phenomenal, each band gave their all to the crowd and more…

CON: The layout stayed pretty much the same as last year. This made it kind of hectic for the photojournalists who were not shooting for the festival but for an outlet. There was basically one way to get to the other stages and the photojournalists had to fight against the crowd walking the other direction to the other stages, sometimes missing out on the opening songs and not getting good enough coverage due to this. Last year’s SBSW #8 the photojournalists were allowed between stages to get to their respective spots in time to give everyone equal coverage. There was no audience flow to the other stages due to a 7-foot-tall chain length fence blocking off the other side. Only other way to get there faster was to continually climb 20 stairs & hop a calve high cement wall to make it back to stage #1.

Set Times

Set times were more than a little erratic, with 100% of the set times clashing with the other set times on the opposite two stages, again not leaving much time between sets to get from A to B to C. Most missing the opening 1-2 songs just trying to make it… Each stage (no matter the size) was divided into two sections. While one band played on, the other band was setting up their equipment, getting ready for sound-check, which would often reverberate from the various walls of the ballpark, & very noticeable when watching an act on stage; depending on where one would be standing. It became often confusing as to who was on which stage, at what time, and what side of said stage. No set times were made available via the website, (though was flashing on the video-billboard.  At least not to where we could easily find.


Despite the problems that occurred, the festival kicked a lot of ass. Tons of fans showed up regardless of the weather, as they did previous years to show their support for their favorite bands. Indeed, a time to be had? Yes! Don’t miss out on this amazing event when it rolls around next year.

Review by: Jared Wingate 




Dance Gavin Dance

Devil Wears Prada

Escape the Fate

Knuckle Puck

Miss May I

Neck Deep

New Found Glory

Real Friends

State Champs

The Word Alive

Unwritten Law