Usually kept to Southern California, Self Help Fest expanded to three other cities this year, taking the San Bernardino-based music festival across the country. With great anticipation, Midwesterners were met with a warm weather welcome at the Detroit date. Even the anticipation of the rain couldn't quell the fans' excitement to see A Day To Remember, Rise Against, Underøath, and many more incredible bands.
Fans were lined up well before the doors, winding down the long dirt path in front of the Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre. The stages were set a few hundred yards apart, a fairly simple back and forth walk. The Black Stage was housed in the amphitheatre itself whereas the larger Red Stage stood tall on the grounds. Fans only had to walk through a gated funnel to go back and forth between the stages- a trek worth making.
Though the smaller of the two stages, the Black Stage housed just as much talent. The Plot In You kicked off the entire show with a set to get the crowd energized for the rest of the evening to come. Warped Tour favorites Too Close To Touch took the stage after. The band gave a resounding performance, reminding fans of their incredible lyrics and strong sound. Moose Blood followed with a more subdued, but no less good, set. Of Mice & Men, a longtime favorite of the scene, closed out the Black Stage with a solid show with old and new favorites lining their setlist.
Sylar kicked off the Red Stage with an incredible set! They were all over the stage, going hard in the 80+ degree weather and setting the bar high for the Red Stage's acts to follow. Wage War was up to the task as the heavy tunes rumbled like a lion across the Amphitheatre's grounds. ISSUES kept up the Red Stage's intense pace as they ripped through their set list- one hard hitter after another.
After ISSUES came Falling In Reverse. Ronnie Radke commanded the stage, running back and forth, committing to intense jump spins, and proving why the band is a force in the music scene. Long time favorites Underøath followed in similar fashion, showing fans they will never go out of style. Underøath was one of the best acts of the day. Pierce The Veil followed with an upbeat, high-quality performance that solidified why they belonged at Self Help with the other bands. Going after Underøath and right before A Day To Remember is no easy position for any band, but Pierce The Veil succeeded in keeping up the energy and vibes throughout their awesome set.
Then it was time for the most highly anticipated set of the day: A Day To Remember- and they did not disappoint. The confetti canons at the beginning woke everyone up from the lag between sets and the energy never died. Frontman Jeremy McKinnon was all over the place, going stage right to stage left in almost an instant. Fans sang at the top of their lungs as the band passionately played favorite tunes. The band faked the end of the set, returning to the stage for a couple more songs. Perhaps, the best to end the set, was "Downfall of Us All". The confetti canons blasted once again as A Day To Remember punched the final refrain, showering fans in brightly colored paper that perfectly matched the vibe of the moment. What better way to end the night?
Depending on which fans you asked, "better" may not have been the term to describe Rise Against's set. But Rise Against closed out the show with an incredibly drawing performance, the band's intensity rivaling that of the wind picking up around the amphitheatre grounds. The Windy City based band challenged the oncoming storms with their rip-roaring set. Though the rain arrived after the first three songs, Rise Against continued the killer set.
Overall, Self Help Fest Detroit was, despite the rain, an incredible lineup of bands that would perhaps otherwise never grace the stage together. After such a show, the entire Midwest is already counting down to another Self Help Detroit in Fall 2018. It surely was a night to remember.