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So What?! Music Festival 2019

I'll be honest, I'm not usually the biggest fan of music festivals - particularly when they're held in my home town of Houston. It's just too damn hot most of the time. Ever since I got heatstroke at OzzFest many moons ago, I vowed to never put myself in such a situation again. So when ol' Ragman called me up to check out the So What?! Music Festival on The Lawn at White Oak Music Hall, I was a little apprehensive. But it was in April, and the weather was really nice that weekend - and the bill was pretty sweet. So...

As the heat of the afternoon sun started to wane, Intervals took the stage for some well-received melodic contemplation. The Canadian progmetal stars played to an eclectic crowd of metalheads, punkers, and even preppies who came for some weekend musical therapy. Bottom line, they were great. I really dig their sound, which some people consider a jazzy progressive pastiche. Either way, I love the way the band melds the bright airy feel of keyboards and thin, distorted leads with solid bass and drum work underneath to make for a satisfying, full-bodied sound.

Chicago metalcore monsters Veil of Maya (VoM) took the stage with a confident swagger that belied a solid, road-tested setlist of heavy, moshable jams. The stage was perfectly positioned to allow attendees to enjoy the band despite the cloudless sky without having the sun in everyone's eyes. The crispness of the air and heady vibe from good beer and handy food trucks had the crowd in a great mood for serious rocking. And VoM was more than up for the task, garnering a pretty respectable pit.

Next, Fit For A King (FFaK) kept the crowd going with their metalcore fury, as moshing and crowdsurfing intensified. This audience came for a jam and they got it, is what I'm saying. In spades. FFaK had a great mix of clean and dirty vocals on top of a formidable bedrock of bass and drums. One of the best things about festivals like this is the serendipitous discovery of new acts to follow, and I've been listening to FFaK's stuff a lot since the show.

After The Burial (ATB) layed their Minneapolis sound on the crowd with authority as the afternoon waned, though the crowd was still buzzing with energy. Even those people resting on the lawn on the fringes of the crowd headbanged along to ATB's tight set, as they sipped cold drinks and munched on fries and waffles, in another satisfying metalcore session.

As the sun began its evening descent, Killswitch Engage took the stage to deliver a blistering 60 minute set of metalcore madness. Vocalist Jesse Leach was in great form, giving the crowd a well-timed energy boost that would last the rest of the evening, bolstered by the hyperkinetic antics of guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz. All in all, a well-crafted setlist of their best songs that played beautifully against the prismatic sky as the sun disappeared. Such a killer set.

Bringing some thunder from down under, Parkway Drive (PWD) finished out the show with their roster of heavy hits. Amazingly, the crowd showed no signs of fatigue despite several hours of previous rocking that afternoon. It was a fantastic way to end a festival, and I can't overstate the organization of the entire affair. People came to rock and were not disappointed as set changes between bands were tight and focused (and well under ten minutes) and everything ran like clockwork, including the sound; nary a technical problem in sight. You just couldn't ask for a better afternoon - and evening - of heavy entertainment. 'Nuff said!

- Genghis was pumped up after this show...

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