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Sad Summer Fest Brings the Happies to Philadelphia’s Skyline Stage [Photos]

We caught Sad Summer Fest when it came through Philadelphia at the Skyline Stage with Taking Back Sunday and many more!

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Taking Back Sunday @ Sad Summer Festival on July 15, 2023, photo by Heather Krut

It looks like Sad Summer Fest runs through until the end of this month. Which, if you don’t know already, is in about a week. The one-day festival came through Philadelphia at the Skyline Stage last weekend. This stop featured: Stand Atlantic, Mom Jeans, Hot Mulligan, PVRIS, The Maine, Taking Back Sunday, and special guests, Head Automatica and Sincere Engineer.

I spent most of my time in between bands engaging in conversation. The conversation touched on all sorts of things. One person I talked to was visiting from Cali, and she was thinking about moving to Philly. Another person had been at pretty much every Sad Summer Fest and every festival I’ve ever heard of. I talked to the other photographers about recent and past shows and engaged with someone else on fashion and music I should listen to. It’s crazy to think that this one music festival was creating a community vibe in such a short amount of time. It seems like that’s the point of Sad Summer Fest.

To be honest, aside from Taking Back Sunday, The Maine, and Head Automatica – I wasn’t even sure I knew most of the bands that were performing. However, I was alone in this. As the day went on, one of the main things asked in the initial conversation was, “Who are you here to see”? Repeatedly, I heard Mom Jeans and Hot Mulligan.

Mom Jeans is a rock/indie band. A band made up of four guys who hail from Berkeley, California. They taunted the audience by yelling, “Go Birds!”. Which if you don’t know – creates a response in some fashion. In this case, they responded by yelling, “E-A-G-L-E-S”. The most Philly response. Throughout their set, they thanked everyone in their traveling crew and everyone at the venue for keeping everyone safe so they can have fun. The shift in the crowd was immediately noticeable as people started thanking the venue staff when they were exiting the gates from crowd surfing.

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Following them was Hot Mulligan. A band I was introduced to for the first time. The lead singer pointed out the tour was brought to you by Journey’s and Converse. He stated the message was to consume and buy stuff. The audience responded to them loud and hard by crowd surfing. I’ve seen them described as both mid-western emo and pop-punk. You can check the album released earlier this year called, “Why Would I Watch?”.

Leading up to the main attractions, was in fact, The Maine themselves. It seems they have a split headline with Taking Back Sunday. Before the doors open, The Maine hosts a pre-show party out front. A special treat for those that arrive early to kick things off. Their set was rambunctious. The person I met earlier in the day, was now in the thick of it with the rest of the crowd. You can tell how seasoned The Maine is at this. Their set was less than 10 songs, but they didn’t waste any time playing their hits and engaging the audience. Not to mention in between interacting with the crowd, Adam Lazzara from Taking Back Sunday came out to join them for “Love You A Little.” Before the set was wrapped, they brought a fan on stage to sing with them.

The whole day felt insanely welcoming. Stand Atlantic – a pop punk band from Australia brought up a young crowd surfer who requested his sister join him. Once she did, they owned the stage like pros. I found out later that these kids are at every show, and the younger of the two had “PIT KID” written on his chucks. The generation that grew up on this music is clearly raising their kids on this music and extending them the freedom to crowd surf and engage like they once did.

To bring the night to a close Taking Back Sunday took the stage. They definitely had the longest of sets at almost 20 songs. Their stage setup seemed to be more intricate. They came out in matching suits. Somehow it feels like a more mature version of the band. There were risers in the back that they were able to walk the width of the stage. No matter how big the space was, they occupied all of it. Adam did most of the talking after each song.

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A couple of songs in he addresses the fact they know people were there to see the old stuff. However, they couldn’t help but play the new songs. Clearly, introducing the new music is something they are eager about. “The One” and “Just Us Two” were mixed into the setlist. “The One” was released in June of this year. Whereas “Just Us Two” was released last year with Steve Aoki. Don’t worry; they didn’t hesitate to play the classics, “Timberwolves at New Jersey,” “You’re So Last Summer,” and “One-Eighty By Summer.”

While this tour wraps up in just a few days, most of the bands have dates to follow. The Maine & Taking Back Sunday will both be performing at Four Chord Music Festival in Washington, PA in August. Two weeks after the conclusion of the Sad Summer Fest, PVRIS is on the The Godless/Goddess Tour. These dates are scattered throughout the US. This is before the band heads overseas. Head Automatica has its own run of tour dates beginning in September. The tour will start in Sacramento California. Hot Mulligan will hit a few tour stops in the mid-west in August before heading overseas in September. Mom Jeans have two upcoming dates in Australia, and that’s all that’s on their schedule as of now.