SOPHOMORE SLUMP FEST 2018 PREVIEW
One of the things I like about music scenes are people that take charge, that makes a change. A few summers ago, a festival in North Carolina was canceled. It had a good line-up, a lot of up and coming pop-punk and easy-core bands. Well, once it was canceled a few people took notice and put together their own festival: the name of that festival, Sophomore Slump Fest; the people, Ric Peterson and Liz Mercer, two names that are well known in the pop-punk scene and two names that continue to be known. Partially because they have their hands in a little bit of everything when it comes to music, I’m personally waiting for one of them to start a label.
Sophomore Slump Fest is the premier event of FBT Entertainment. Besides the festival, they book, manage, and promote bands. A few bands that they work with are Action/Adventure, Bleacher Days, Drop the Girl, Cedar Green, and Riviera. FBT Entertainment is determined to help bands grow. And this is very evident by their work ethic. Over the past few years, I’ve seen these bands and others pop up more and more on social media and other press outlets such as Alt Press. They have played festivals such as Warped Tour, Four Chord, and others. This is no doubt to the hard work of Ric and Liz.
You can also look at the growth of Sophomore Slump Fest. The attendance from the first year to the second year was a good increase. You can attest that to the bands that played of course. 2016 saw performances by bands such as Action/Adventure, The Second After, Settle Your Scores, and Abandoned by Bears. At that point all of them were on the rise and on the verge of breaking out. And since then they all have done very well for themselves. Last year saw a reunited Kid Liberty; this was only the second show they played in 2017—the other, a show put on by So What. The line-up also included Keep Flying, Centerfolds, Sharptooth, and Broadside among it.
Since then some of them have gone on to bigger things. Sharptooth was on Warped this summer for the whole tour, and they signed to Pure Noise. Keep Flying is getting ready to tour with State Champs—the biggest band in pop-punk—and Centerfolds released one of the best pop-punk albums in years. What am I trying to say? This, this festival is becoming the standard. And with Warped over our scene needs a festival like this. Need proof? Just look at this year’s line-up.
This year’s SSF on August 25th in Durham, NC is being headlined by Microwave, a band that is becoming a name to know more and more. Over the past few years, Microwave has shown that they are the new kings of emo. Just this year they went on tour with emo legends Jimmy Eat World. Another band that is on the rise is Nashville emo-rockers Free Throw. This band does nothing but tour, and it is paying off, as they have a very strong loyal fanbase throughout the United States. Then there is Can’t Swim. I per se am not a fan, but I respect what they are doing. In their short time as a band, they have toured with heavyweights such as Four Strong, Have Mercy, and New Found Glory. They also have played Slam Dunk Fest in the UK and Riot Fest. Then there are upcomers such as Bloom, In Your Memory, Drop the Girl, and Bleaches. Toss in scene vets and beloved acts, Light Years and Forever Came Calling, and you have yourselves a festival to remember. That’s just what this is, a day to remember.
However, it’s not just a day. Yes, the festival is a day, but there is so much more this year. There is an after-party with DJ sets from Joe Candelaria of Forever Came Calling, Shawn Milke of Alesana, and members from Riviera and Sink the Ship, among others. There is also a pre-show on the 24th that will be headlined by Forever Came Calling. Other bands to catch include Summer Wars, Church Key, and Light Years. The fun doesn’t stop there, oh no. The day after SSF there is a last call show that will be headlined by Lunchbox Hero. Drop the Girl is also playing this.
The cool thing about this show is there will be Comedy sets as well. The one to catch is Jennings Compton. You may not know the name, but you know the face. If you have bought merch from Four Year Strong in the last few years, this was the guy you gave your money to.
It doesn’t end there. This is the best part in my opinion, outside of the festival itself of course. Leading up to and after the festival, FBT Entertainment will have five different tours going on at the same time. You have Centerfolds/Hang Tight on one, Bloom/Bleacher Days/Cedar Green on another, From States Away/Pheller on a third, and two more. FBT has truly made this an event not to miss.
I for one can’t wait to see what the future holds for this company. They have their pulse to the ground, and it is a thing of beauty. We very well may not have to mourn the loss of Warped for too long. Our scene is in good hands, thanks to people like FBT Entertainment.