By Angelina Singer, Rock At Night Boston
Sad Summer Fest 2022 Review–Worcester Palladium, MA July 23rd
As a former (and let’s be honest – current) emo kid myself, I was saddened with the ending of the multi-stage Warped Tour festival even though I only got to attend once in 2018. However, Sad Summer Fest has truly picked up where Warped left off, recruiting fan favorite bands to play on their solo bright pink stage. With a great mix of acts this year ranging from old scene queens like Mayday Parade and The Summer Set, to newer acts like LØLØ and my personal favorite of the lineup, Waterparks – there’s something for pop punk kids of all ages.
The Worcester Palladium stop of the tour in Massachusetts was hot – as in, 95-degrees-sweating-off-your-sunblock hot. But that didn’t stop my boyfriend and I from enjoying the live music. With water bottles in hand and sunblock slathered, we braved the heat to see as many acts as we could muster.
Starting off the day was LØLØ – aka Lauren Mandel – a recent new-wave pop punk artist I only knew from her song “Debbie Downer” on Alternative XM radio and of course, TikTok. But since I loved that whole angsty, and I quote, “sexy cheerleader” vibe, I had a feeling the rest of her set would not disappoint. And I was right – her energetic vibe took concertgoers all through her classic Wheatus cover “Teenage Dirtbag”, as well as new-to-me songs I hadn’t heard before like my new favorite breakup anthem “Hurt Less” and the love-gone-toxic melodramatic tone of “Junkie”.
While I was less familiar with bands like Hot Milk, The Summer Set, Hot Mulligan, and State Champs, I still thoroughly enjoyed hearing songs that I did know – like Hot Milk’s sugary-sweet
revenge track “Candy Coated Lies” punctuated by gritty lead guitar and a syrupy-thick conic texture. There’s also the beachy, warm-weather favorite “Boomerang” by The Summer Set – easily one of the most poppy and spunky love songs of the entire day.
Bigger bands like Mayday Parade, Waterparks, and Neck Deep closed out the show. Mayday Parade is the kind of band that every emo kid seems to be obsessed with. While I thoroughly enjoyed the power-pop-punk energy of their set and classics sung by vocalist Derek Sanders like “Jamie All Over” and their energetic My Chemical Romance cover of “Helena”, I was mainly looking forward to hearing the Waterparks set. While I didn’t stay for Neck Deep, I was thrilled to be able to see my favorite neon-haired popstar Awsten Knight tear up the stage with his band Waterparks before calling it a day.
The sonic range of Waterparks is particularly impressive, made obvious by their choice to open their set with the bubblegum-pop lead single “Stupid For You” from their first full-length album Double Dare. Now contrast that with their deeply angry more recent diss track “Turbulent” that closed their set, complete with laser lights and the whole crowd yelling poetically placed expletives alongside the ruby-haired vocalist. Sandwiched between those two extremes were new releases like “FUNERAL GREY” and “SELF-SABOTAGE” – both of which are extremely bright and cheery in sound, despite being at least moderately depressing thematically (typical Waterparks songwriting style).
After enjoying the Waterparks set to the fullest and cringing at Awsten’s eccentric sense of humor, I left the venue to eat a late dinner with my boyfriend and chat about our favorite moments of this year’s Sad Summer Fest. The verdict? The hot temperatures were mutually our least favorite thing but staying to watch Waterparks was totally worth it – even if we almost missed dinner because of it. This was my second experience jamming out to bands at Sad Summer Fest. If you have the chance to get to a remaining date of the festival, and you find yourself routinely jamming to some variant of the pop punk genre, I would highly recommend braving the heat wave and rocking out!