15 Artists to Check Out at So What?! Music Festival 2016

15 Artists to Check Out at So What?! Music Festival 2016

Written by Shannon Shumaker

If you're anything like us, you're already buzzing with excitement over So What?! Music Festival's headlining artists this year. With Underoath making their comeback this year and set to headline day two on March 20th, along with other heavy-hitters such as New Found Glory, Bayside, Neck Deep, The Devil Wears Prada and Saosin, who recently reunited with frontman Anthony Green, this year's festival already promises to be one for the books. But on top of all of the big name artists that we're all excited to see, there are also some fantastic smaller bands and up and coming acts that are well worth checking out.

With so many artists playing So What?! this year, deciding who to watch or check out may be a little overwhelming, so we've taken it upon ourselves to make the process a little easier for you. It was hard, but we narrowed it down to fifteen artists that are worth checking out this year. But don't let us be the judge, listen for yourself! 

1. Like Pacific

Playing on Saturday, March 19th

FOR FANS OF: The Story So Far, Seaway & Have Mercy

Listen to "Distant"

Like Pacific have been gaining more momentum since the release of their self-titled EP last year, and with their new album Distant, Like You Asked dropping this month, this group is sure to be at the forefront of the pop-punk scene. The Toronto quintet’s new full-length is catchy and fun to listen to, but most of all, emotionally charged. Beneath memorable guitar work and singalong worthy choruses, there is a story on the album that many people are bound to relate to. Like Pacific are making their stop at So What?! in the midst of their tour with State Champs and Neck Deep and are sure to garner a lot of success from this tour.


2. Speak Low If You Speak Love

Playing on Saturday, March 19th

FOR FANS OF:  Elder Brother, Wind In Sails & Grey Gordon

Listen to "Knots"

Fans of fellow So What?! pop-punk band State Champs may already be familiar with guitarist Ryan Scott Graham’s solo project Speak Low If You Speak Love. And if you aren’t familiar, So What?! is the perfect chance to catch both of the singer-songwriter’s projects. Don’t expect Speak Low If You Speak Love to sound just like State Champs, however. Swapping high energy pop-punk jams for a more laid back, acoustic sound, Graham bares all on Speak Low’s debut release, Everything but What You Need.


3. Too Close To Touch

Playing on Saturday, March 19th

FOR FANS OF: Sleeping With Sirens, I The Mighty & Secrets

Listen to "Nerve Endings"

You’ve probably heard a lot about this band recently, but if you haven’t listened to them yet, this is your chance to check out Too Close To Touch before they inevitably blow up. Their debut release Nerve Endings is emotionally powerful, spearheaded by stunning vocals from Keaton Pierce, and the band is already working on a promising follow up. On top of that, they also just released a new track for Valentine’s Day, titled “Heavy Hearts.” Sounding similar to City And Colour, Too Close To Touch experiment with a new sound on “Heavy Hearts,” promising even more diversity on any upcoming music.


4. Covet

Playing on Sunday, March 20th

FOR FANS OF: Scale The Summit & Animals As Leaders

Listen to "Sea Dragon"

Covet is a real standout at this year’s So What?! Fest. While much of the festival is dominated by pop-punk and metalcore acts, Covet falls more on the progressive post-hardcore end of the spectrum. A more dreamy and mellow version of artists such as Scale The Summit or Animals As Leaders, Covet will lull you into relaxation and stun you with beautiful tracks from their EP, Currents, released late last year.


5. Hail The Sun

Playing on Sunday, March 20th

FOR FANS OF: Circa Survive, Dance Gavin Dance & A Lot Like Birds

Listen to "Human Target Practice"

The first time I saw Hail The Sun live, I had never even heard of them before, and was completely blown away by their explosive live performance. Don’t be like me. Do your homework and listen to this incredible band before you see them live, and get the full experience. Not only is Hail The Sun’s energy incredible live, but vocally and instrumentally, their 2014 release, Wake is stunning.


6. Bonfires

Playing on Saturday, March 19th

FOR FANS OF: The Wonder Years, Polar Bear Club & Seasons Change

Listen to "Nothing To Hold"

Bonfires may be a fairly young band, but they’ve already had quite a journey. Along with the release of their powerful EP, The Way This Ends last year, 2015 also saw the band playing alongside artists such as Beartooth, Hawthorne Heights, The Spill Canvas and more. The Way This Ends is the perfect blend of poppy and gritty, something that is easy to sing along with without sounding too sugar-coated.


7. Artifex Pereo

Playing on Sunday, March 20th

FOR FANS OF: Closure In Moscow, Tides of Man & Emarosa

Listen to "Hands of Penance"

Artifex Pereo are still riding the wave of success from their last album, Time in Place, released in 2014 on Tooth & Nail Records, but that doesn’t mean that this album is outdated by any means. Time in Place has a very fresh and cohesive sound. With smooth vocals that transition from cleans to screams with the blink of an eye, and smart instrumentation to compliment, Artifex Pereo are one to keep an eye on. The band recently hit the studio to start working on a new record, and it’s safe to say that if it sounds anything like their previous release, it’ll be incredible.


8. Kingdom Of Giants

Playing on Sunday, March 20th

FOR FANS OF: The Word Alive, Ice Nine Kills & My Ticket Home

Listen to "Motif"

We couldn’t create a list of artists to check out at So What!? without including an explosive band like Kingdom Of Giants. With their haunting new single “Motif” out now, this California-based group is sure to put on an incredible performance, standing out from the rather large pack of metal bands on the festival’s second day. The band is also currently working on a new album, due out this spring, so keep an eye out! 


9. Picturesque

Playing on Saturday, March 19th

FOR FANS OF: Sleeping With Sirens, Circa Survive & Lydia

Listen to "Monstrous Things"

Picturesque ended 2015 with the release of their monstrous new EP, Monstrous Things, and are kicking off the beginning of 2016 on tour with Secrets, Palisades and fellow Lexington, Kentucky natives, Too Close To Touch. With soaring high vocals comparable to Sleeping With Sirens and theatrical instrumentals, Monstrous Things is a captivating six song EP, and the band’s live performance promises to be a memorable one.


10. Will Deely

Playing on Saturday, March 19th

FOR FANS OF: This Wild Life & Into It. Over It.

Listen to "Badge of Honor"

This Columbus-based acoustic artist will be a nice change of pace throughout the day at So What?!, but he most certainly won’t be boring to watch. With powerful, crisp vocals, former City Lights guitarist Will Deely’s sound isn’t sleepy at all, and his lyrics are relatable and realistic.


11. Monuments

Playing on Sunday, March 20th

FOR FANS OF: Periphery, Protest The Hero & Between The Buried And Me

Listen to "I, The Creator"

There isn’t a boring moment on Monuments’ 2014 release, The Amanuensis, which progresses from beautiful melodic harmonies to aggressive unclean vocals, and complex guitar work into big choruses within seconds. The best way to describe Monuments’ sound is complex, which promises an entertaining performance from the band.


12. The CMDWN

Playing on Sunday, March 20th

FOR FANS OF: The Neighbourhood, Tyler Carter & Colours

Listen to "For The Last Time"

The CMDWN are yet another standout at So What?! this year. With unique sound that blends R&B and metalcore, The CMDWN are unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. The band consists of members of Sea Swallowed Us Whole, and if you’re a fan of their previous work, then you’re bound to enjoy The CMDWN. There's no better way to shake up the second day of performances at So What?! this year.


13. Waterparks

Playing on Saturday, March 19th

FOR FANS OF: Good Charlotte & Metro Station

Listen to "Crave"

Waterparks’ sound is impossible to describe with just one word or genre, and in the best way possible. This Houston three-piece has more of a pop-punk sound (similar to Good Charlotte, which makes sense, considering they’re signed with the Madden brothers’ management company) but with electronic elements that take you by surprise. Their song, “Crave,” which is the perfect introduction to the band, is not only catchy, but it keeps you on your toes. Waterparks are just gaining more and more momentum, especially with the release of their new EP, Cluster this year, and you’re going to want to ride this wave with them.


14. A Will Away

Playing on Saturday, March 19th

FOR FANS OF: Transit, Seasons Change, Head North & Moose Blood

Listen to "My Sitter"

A Will Away is another great example of pop-punk artists that are breaking the mold this year. The band hits So What?! in the midst of their tour with Have Mercy, and are currently working on their highly anticipated first LP, the follow-up to last year’s stunning EP, Bliss. With a sound similar to Transit or Balance And Composure, it’s easy to let A Will Away lull you into relaxation with a sound that is both familiar and a refreshing change of pace.


15. Stolas

Playing on Sunday, March 20th

FOR FANS OF: Night Verses, A Lot Like Birds & Dance Gavin Dance

Listen to "Proving Grounds"

Similar to Hail The Sun, Stolas has a complex, yet incredibly catchy sound that is not only fun to listen to, but fun to watch live. From soaring clean vocals and chaotic screams to sweeping, intricate guitar work and a jazzy undertone, Stolas' sound is captivating and mesmerizing, and their live performance promises to be the same. 


Who are you excited to see this year? Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments!

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