Everything You Need To Know About So What?! Music Festival 2016 + Interview With Founder Mike Ziemer

So What?! Music Festival (formerly the South by So What?!) is taking place on March 19 and 20 at Quiktrip Park in Grand Prairie, T.X. It's their ninth installment and their most ambitious and strong line-up ever.

We don’t even know where to start, talking about this huge and stellar line-up. From their huge headliners Neck Deep, Underoath, Saosin, State Champs, The Devil Wears Prada and New Found Glory to new and exciting acts, like Milk Teeth, Sorority Noise, Hotel Books, The Ongoing Concept, Like Pacific and Seaway, just to name a few…

Since it isn’t humanly possible to see every band, here are 12 amazing acts that are worth your attention.


Current Release: Everybody Is Going To Heaven (Run For Cover)
Why You Can’t Miss Them: The whole hype that surrounds these dudes is awesome and they totally deserve it, that’s for sure.
Sounds Like: …an indie-emo-post-hardcore-shoegaze feast that sounds good and is introspective as fuck. If somehow you’re thinking what Radiohead could sound if they were a Brand New meets Superheaven meets Nothing cover band, then Citizen might satisfity your curiosity.


Current Release: Ø (Disambiguation) (Tooth & Nail)
Why You Can’t Miss Them: Well, they’re the kings of post-everything. Their unique sense of heaviness and melody is still quite unique and influential.
Sounds Like: Underoath, Underoath and even more Underoath…


the ongoing concept
Current Release: Handmade (Solid State Records)
Why You Can’t Miss Them: Big melodies, big hooks, great songs and jaw-dropping heaviness. Their intense and explosive sound will keep your adrenaline levels high.
Sounds Like: Imagine the catchiness of letlive. and the heavy tunes of Every Time I Die. Impossible to define their genre and with no so such things has clichés attached.


Current Release: Peripheral Vision (Run For Cover)
Why You Can’t Miss Them: Because they’re one of the most exciting and fresh acts around, and if you’re familiar with their great new album Peripheral Vision, you will not definitely want to miss them live.
Sounds Like: The band’s ethereal punk sound will keep you entertained and hooked right from the first listening. Think about Title Fight playing Real Estate songs, but with that punk irresistible edge.


hotel books
Current Release: Run Wild, Young Beauty (InVogue Records)
Why You Can’t Miss Them: Hotel Books have something different in pace to offer. That’s mostly because of the message that frontman Cam Smith delivers with heavy emotion in his spoken-word style. You’ll want to stay quiet and hear what the man has to say with this one.
Sounds Like: Remember Listener? Good, because now you know.


Current Release: Resurrection (Hopeless Records)
Why You Can’t Miss Them: Hello! It’s New Found Glory, their live shows are always epic!
Sounds Like: If you don’t know NFG close this window right now, you don’t deserve to be reading this. And, yes they sound awesome, they sound like New Found Glory. Enough said!


Current Release: In Humor and Sadness (Good Fight)
Why You Can’t Miss Them: Energy and intensity, something that Josh Scogin is more than used to offer. We miss The Chariot a lot, but ’68 is another breed, another outlet and another awesome project with the one and only Josh Scogin.
Sounds Like: … a mashup between Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the White Stripes and the Black Keys with in our face punk attitude of Nirvana’s In Utero b-side.


Current Release: Vile Child (Hopeless Records)
Why You Can’t Miss Them: Their sound is infectious and incendiary, full of honesty and hard work. Milk Teeth are for sure one of the most exciting new bands around…
Sounds Like: Think Fugazi meets Sonic Youth & Nirvana meets Pixies… 90’s sound and legacy are here to stay.


sorority noise
Current Release: Joy, Departed (Topshelf Records)
Why You Can’t Miss Them: With their debut album, Joy, Departed, they created songs with really important and impactful messages, and now they’re about to release a brand new EP titled It Kindly Stopped For Me.
Sounds Like: An emotionally driven band with something important to say that play intense indie rock tunes.


Current Release: Being As An Ocean (InVogue Records)
Why You Can’t Miss Them: Because they are for sure one of the most intense live experiences in the current post-hardcore scene, but the things is, no one sounds like them and their live shows are cathartic experiences all the way…
Sounds Like: … an emotional battle where hardcore leads the way, full of great/gorgeous melodies and awesome/very important lyrics.


neck deep
Current Release: Life’s Not Out to Get You (Hopeless Records)
Why You Can’t Miss Them: 2015 was a roller coaster of emotions for the band as they released their freaking awesome second record, in which they sound bigger and fuckin’ massive.
Sounds Like: Pop punk straight out from the UK with a great and energetic attitude.


Current Release: Distant Like You Asked (Pure Noise Records)
Why You Can’t Miss Them: These guys really know how to pour out their best as musicians and as individuals into their music.
Sounds Like: Lyrically it’s honest as fuck, and musical wise it’s pop punk blended with the aggressiveness of hardcore.



For more insight of what So What?! Music Festival is all about, we caught up with its founder Mike Ziemer, who told us about how’s been these 9 years of bringing such exciting bands to such an amazing event.

What did inspire you to start So What?! Music Festival?
I started the festival out of necessity because so many bands were in the area already and I wanted to put them all together in one big show.

What was the most challenging part in putting it together in its initial stages?
After the first couple years, we had growing pains and had to go to a few venues before finding our home at QuikTrip Park. It was stressful for a while, still is, but a venue to hold a festival like this is always the biggest problem.

Were you expecting such an impressive feedback now that’s been 9 years?
Every year has blown my mind more and more. Selling tickets all over the world is never anything I thought we would do, but here we are and it’s amazing.

The obvious question: why the change from “South By So What?!” to “So What?!”
We are taking the festival out of just Texas and the name only makes sense here because of SXSW. It also has helped us establish our own identity that is SLIGHTLY less confusing.

Normally a festival like So What?! pays much attention to the evolution of a band from up-and-coming to mid-level to maybe someday headline the festival. Is there a particular up-and-coming band that you’re really curious to catch in this year’s edition?
TURNOVER IS MY FAVORITE BAND RIGHT NOW! [laughs] I think they could become the new Brand New or something like that. I love them so much. Same with Knuckle Puck, Like Pacific, Citizen, all those bands!

Can you please talk about the So What?! Ambassador initiative? It seems a very cool way to keep building a community and include “”common”” people (aka fans) in the process.
We just wanted to give our fans the chance to get something cool if they help promote and get friends to come to the show you know? We appreciate that they can get people to buy tickets.

What artists are you most looking forward to see perform this year?
All the ones I mentioned early + New Found Glory + Underoath + Saosin + basically everyone. This is my favorite line up we’ve ever had! So many awesome bands.

Bands that are yet on your wishlist because unfortunately for some reason you couldn’t book them to So What?!
BLINK 182 would be the best band ever to book, also The Wonder Years have never played it somehow.

So What!? was shortened from three days to two days. Was it a decision based on simple logistics?
We wanted to do 2 days of solid bands this year and then next year for our 10 year anniversary of the festival we will have a lot more. [laughs] Just wanted to cut it down a bit this year and it’s working, our ticket sales are crazy!

Next year So What?! will celebrate its tenth anniversary. Do you have something special in mind and/or planned?
[laughs] As I just mentioned before reading this one, we definitely do! Fingers crossed that some of our ideas will work out, can’t really talk about them yet but we will let people know as soon as we can!

When you’re dealing with hundreds of people it’s inevitable that some really bizarre and remarkable stories will happen, sooner or later. What’s the most memorable story that you can think of?
Two of my friends met at one of my festivals and are now married. Nothing beats that to me, what a beautiful thing!


Ticket Information:
General single day ticket:
Saturday ­ March 19 is $50 Sunday ­ March 20 is $50

Two-day Weekend pass:
Saturday/Sunday (March 19/­20) is $75

VIP Packages:
VIP Star Package ​is $150 (2 day VIP ticket, Limited Edition Festival Poster, T­shirt, 3D Laminate, Souvenir 3D ticket, Early Entry, Full Access to Pre­Party/After Party, Meet & Greet)
VIP Rockstar Package ​is $250 (2 day VIP ticket, Main Stage VIP Viewing Area w/ Private Bathrooms, Limited Edition Festival Poster, T­shirt, 3D Laminate, Souvenir 3D ticket, Early Entry, VIP Area Access, Full Access to Pre­Party/After Party, So What?! Festival Water Bottle)
VIP Superstar Package​is $350 (2 day VIP ticket, Main Stage VIP Viewing Area w/ Private Bathrooms, Limited Edition Festival Poster, T­shirt, 3D Laminate, Souvenir 3D ticket, Early Entry, VIP Area Access, Full Access to Pre­Party/After Party, So What?! Festival Water Bottle, Parking in front lot just steps from entry gate, exclusive parking pass air freshener)

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