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So What?! Music Fest in Arlington, Texas finished day one with a bang, setting the stage for the music and mayhem to come in the following days.

The party started early on Thursday night with an Emo Nite kickoff party, but most people didn’t start lining up until 11 a.m. Friday.

For some people, the day began with a confusing morning walk. There was a different entrance for general admission, 3-day VIP, media and artists because there were different places to pick up and buy passes. This wouldn’t usually be an issue; however, the different entrances aren’t usually located at different ‘bases’ of a 270-acre stadium. I walked by the same faces multiple times circling the stadium in confusion, picking up tickets in one place, walking to the wrong entrance and doubling back again.  

The stages were spread out on the stadium grounds, loosely paired by genre.

Judging by the outfits, no one really seemed to know what they were dressing for, but they were certainly dressing up in styles such as Nu Goth, coachella-wear, punk, and everything in between.

The day kicked off with acts like Thousand Below and Giden. Around 5 p.m. larger acts start to hit the stage.

Suicide Silence took the Stay Lit stage at 5:30 p.m. to a warm reception. The crowd musters strength for every song despite the heat, putting in extra effort for a song dedicated to the late lead singer, Mitch Lucker.

Crown the Empire, back in their hometown bantered with the crowd, with lead singer Andrew Vasquez unable to hide his excitement to be home.

Crown the Empire plays at So What?! Music Fest | Photo by Cynthia Isabella Zelaya Ordoñez

At one point, a fan dragged a green balloon display into the audience, making the band laugh. Vasquez declared it a strain of COVID-20, then demanded the display be thrown into the mosh pit during “Zero.”

Crown the Empire is touring in support of the 10th anniversary of their 2012 debut album “The Fallout.”

Palaye Royale brought in a different type of energy. The founding members, Remington Leith (vocals), Sebastian Danzig (guitar) and Emmerson Barret (drums) continue to dress the part of their on-stage personas (a vampire, a gentleman and a pirate, respectively), but backing musicians also bring a degree of flare bold enough to turn heads.

Palaye Royale plays at So What?! Music Fest | Photo by Cynthia Isabella Zelaya Ordoñez

Andrew Martin in particular stole the show at times. Dressed like a 70s glam rocker, he fit the bill, not missing a note while launching himself to different sides of the stage.

The audience was very receptive, some clearly drawn to So What?! Music Fest with Palaye Royale at the top of their watchlists. They played a healthy mix of new and old, closing with “Mr. Doctor Man” as a fan gifted them a bouquet of flowers from the barrier.

Rebecca Black surprised some concertgoers by her presence, others by the quality of her music. She took to the Hot Topic stage with clean, danceable pop, playing original songs like “Girlfriend” and “Person of Interest.” Naturally, she closed with “Friday,” the song that had unintentionally gained her fame as a teenager. Whether out of nostalgia or irony, the crowd happily sang along.

Escape the Fate and Wage War played back-to-back shows on stages next to each other. As the night wore on, the lack of heat returned some of the energy the crowd had lost, and the pits grew more to the size and aggression some fans are used to.

3OH!3 played near the end of the night, supplying the audience with another nostalgia hit before 100 Gecs took the stage. They opened with “Hey Big Man,” the audience screaming in approval as they pressed closer together. Members Dylan Brady and Laura Les looked over at each other and smiled, then grinned at the crowd. They gave a danceable performance, closing with ‘Sympathy for the Grinch’ to applause.

Trippie Redd closed the show after 11 p.m., rewarding fans that stayed with an energetic performance at the Flow’s Backyard stage, blessedly close to the exit for those with aching feet.

So What?! Music Festival kicked off to a good first day, hyping them up for the rest of the weekend.

Cynthia is the Assistant Editor for Cooglife magazine

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