What began as an idea several years ago by New Found Glory guitarist and local transplant Chad Gilbert, and finally manifested into an inaugural event last year at The Factory at Franklin’s Liberty Hall, breakfast-themed, community-focused, punk rock and alternative day fest BreakFEST was an absolute blast in its first year, and we’re thrilled to see the event return for year two, hopefully the start of an annual tradition this Sunday, June 2!
A novel concept (you can read more about the inspiration and backstory in our interview with Gilbert from last summer) BreakFEST is a great way to bring fans of pop punk, emo, alternative, and everything in between together in the daytime, to enjoy great tunes and great food, and this year’s lineup once again boasts a stellar mix of old and new acts along with a few locals, with New Found Glory, Real Friends, Hawthorne Heights, Mae, The Early November, Microwave, Jetty Bones, H.A.R.D., Love You Later, and Doll Skin all set to perform. Plus, with great local venders like Frothy Monkey, Honest Coffee, Five Daughters, High Brow Coffee, Tiny Little Donuts, Mojo’s Tacos, Juice Bar, Triple Crown Bakery, Muletown Coffee, and Ruby Sunshine all announced as well, the breakfast side of BreakFEST warrants just as much excitement.
To help you get ready for this year’s event, we’ve been highlighting a different performer each day ahead of BreakFEST weekend with daily Artist Spotlight features, which we’ve compiled into a full guide to BreakFEST below, complete with artist profiles and set times! We’ve also included some info on the local acoustic performers, Ill Spector, Games We Play, Brave Holiday, plus a special guest, a new addition this year, who will be playing down the hall at Luna Record Shop, and open to the public. So, whether you’re checking in on an old favorite or discovering a new one, you can arrive ready to rock and prepared to sing along! And finally, for more about all things BreakFEST, including a helpful FAQ section, be sure to check out the event’s website.
BreakFEST is an all ages event, and, as the concept would suggest, it kicks off early, with doors set to open at 8 a.m. You can still get GA tickets for less than $40, or upgrade to $100 VIP, which grants you special balcony seating, a separate bathroom and bar, special entry, and some freebies like a t-shirt and poster (tickets will also be available at the door for as long as they last). Food and beverage are not included in the price of admission, but there will be a well-curated selection of local goodies that are well worth the cost. A thoroughly independent, homegrown, and community-driven effort worthy of your attention and support, BreakFEST is a testament to our wonderful local underground punk scene, and an event we hope to see continue for years to come!
Get your tickets right here if you haven’t already, and keep reading to learn more about the lineup in our Guide to BreakFEST 2019…
NEW FOUND GLORY
4:00-5:00pm | Libery Hall
As we’ve previously noted (and discussed in an interview ahead of last year’s inaugural festival), New Found Glory guitarist and BreakFEST founder Chad Gilbert has called the Nashville area home for several years, and singer Jordan Pundik previously resided in Music City as well, so it should come as no surprise that the iconic pop punk group, who formed 22 years ago in Florida, have become increasingly bound to Nashville, opting to rehearse and record here in recent years, and even finding time to play three sold out local shows over the course of their 20th anniversary tour, all ahead of headlining last year’s first BreakFEST. Fusing their love of hardcore with a penchant for unabashedly poppy punk hooks, the band grew to prominence within the scene around the turn of the millennium, finding breakout critical and commercial acclaim with 2002 third album Sticks and Stones, which arrived at time that pop punk was fast becoming the dominant force in rock, a movement which NFG, no doubt, helped usher in, as important to the era as peers like Jimmy Eat World, Fall Out Boy, and Taking Back Sunday, and as visible at the time as mega acts like Green Day and Blink-182, while still maintaining ties and appeal to the DIY and more underground side of the scene, as well as keeping a connection to their love of hardcore (notably, the band even spent a few years in the late ’00s making hardcore as International Superheroes of Hardcore).
2004’s Catalyst was a similarly huge, crossover effort, and helped cement what’s more or less been the template for many great albums to follow. As pop punk shrunk from the mainstream, some of the group’s less tenable peers faded away, but New Found Glory doubled down on crafting fan-focused, true to their roots music, maintaining a cult following with a steady stream of solid records, consistent touring, and sincere approachability. Their latest original effort, ninth LP Makes Me Sick, arrived in 2017, sounding as vibrant and as relevant as ever, especially with the uptick of interest pop punk has experienced once more over the past few years. But this time around, NFG are celebrating another very special and long-awaited release: a completion of their two-decade spanning film soundtrack cover trilogy, From the Screen to Your Stereo 3, where they’ve put their own unique pop punk spin on tunes like “Eye of the Tiger,” “The Power of Love,” “This Is Me,” and more (and have been giving each track an appropriately fun and funny music video treatment as well). A hugely influential and legendary band, we’re thrilled that New Found Glory turned Nashville in a de facto base of operations, and beyond fortunate that they chose our area to launch BreakFEST, which we hope to see them play for years to come!
LISTEN | “My Friends Over You”
WATCH | “This Is Me” (Official Music Video)
3:00-3:40pm | Libery Hall
Formed in 2010 in the suburbs of Chicago, Real Friends have, over the past several years, become one of the best and most dependable acts among a new wave of pop punk. Part of a crop of revivalists acts who’ve sprung up since the start of the decade, pop punk has seen something of a sonic and philosophical course correction, moving away from the reactionary scene that sprung up after the style became all the commercial rage in the ’00s, and moving back towards the rawer, faster, more punk rooted and melodically resonant approach that ruled the ’90s and early ’00s. Like Knuckle Puck, State Champs, and other breakout and beloved peers, Real Friends are part of this refreshing new movement of bands, and perhaps best nail the sound, earnestness, energy, and feel of favorites like The Starting Line, Taking Back Sunday, and, of course, New Found Glory, albeit fused with contemporary flair.
After an series of well-received early EPs, Real Friends signed to Fearless Records in 2013, and released their debut full-length, Maybe This Place Is the Same We’re Just Changing, the following year, instantly attracting a cult following, praise from within the punk scene press and beyond, and increasingly larger tours and spots at events like Warped Tour. By their sophomore LP, the equally raw, resonant, punk spirited yet pop accessible The Home Inside My Head in 2016, the group had become one of the most popular and buzziest acts in pop punk, but, despite positive reception from fans, weren’t entirely happy with the finished product, and quietly took much of 2017 off, as vocalist Dan Lambton also publicly struggled with bipolar disorder. Weathering their personal turmoil, the band returned last year with their best record yet, Mike Green produced third effort Composure, packing just as much earnest, raw, and confessional songwriting with a more mature focus. Destined to go down with as strong a legacy as the bands that inspired their sound, Real Friends are, without a doubt, one of the most refreshing and important bands in modern pop punk.
LISTEN | “I Don’t Love You Anymore”
WATCH | “From the Outside” (Official Music Video)
2:10-2:40pm | Libery Hall
Formed in Dayton, Ohio around the start of the millennium, and known as A Day in the Life in their early years, before settling on Hawthorne Heights in 2003, after signing to infamous but scene-foundational label Victory Records and releasing their debut LP, The Silence in Black and White, in ’04, the famed screamo outfit became one of the most popular and successful emo and post-hardcore infused acts of the ’00s. Earning Gold certifications, chart-topping singles, television and radio play, and spots on prestigious tours of the day like Warped Tour, Nintendo Fusion, and Projekt Revolution, Hawthorne Heights found massive success thanks to gut-wrenchingly raw and earnest, yet aggressive and heavy, early singles like “Ohio Is for Lovers” and “Niki FM,” propelling their second LP, If Only You Were Lonely, which spawned over fan-favorite tracks like “Saying Sorry,” to similarly impressive commercial heights and scene resonance upon release in 2006.
The later years of the last decade would see the group face some unfortunate obstacles, including the tragic and sudden death of founding guitarist Casey Calvert, a messy legal battle with their label, and the general cultural shift away from scremo, prompting them to return to their DIY roots after a 2008 third Victory Records LP, Fragile, and briefly flirting with a major label for 2010’s Skeletons. More recently, Hawthorne Heights independently released a trio of EPs, as well as a 2013 dystopian concept album, Zero, distributed through Red Entertainment, and have become an increasingly more active touring outfit at the club level (with frequent stops in Nashville in recent years), also returning to Warped Tour and embarking on anniversary runs for their beloved first two LPs. After partnering with Pure Noise Records, the band returned last year with their most inspired album in ages, Bad Frequencies, managing to bridge the angst and emotional resonance of their early work while firmly navigating adulthood, making for a nostalgic, eclectic, confident nod to the past with one eye to the future. If you haven’t checked in on Hawthorne Heights in awhile, there’s never been a better time!
LISTEN | “Ohio Is for Lovers”
WATCH | “Just Another Ghost” (Official Music Video)
THE EARLY NOVEMBER
1:20-1:50pm | Libery Hall
Formed two decades ago in Southern New Jersey, The Early November have been a staple of the indie/emo rock scene since the start of the millennium, not long after the young band recorded a five song demo in lead singer Ace Enders’ basement and sent it off to Drive-Thru Records, nabbing a deal with what would become one of the most taste-making labels of the era. Their 2002 debut EP, For All Of This, and followup full-length album The Room’s Too Cold, released the following year, are classics of their genre, switching back and forth from loud, swirling guitars to soft, melancholy acoustic tunes, showcasing Enders’ wide range of songwriting, and helping propel the group to cult fame and becoming a live touring fixture (appearing at events like Warped Tour and Bamboozle, as well as dates around the globe) as pop punk and emo took over the musical zeitgeist in the early to mid ’00s.
The band took a hiatus shortly after the release of their third album (which is technically three albums in one) in 2006, a concept record called The Mother, The Mechanic and The Path, and remained largely out of the spotlight (despite beloved other projects like Enders’ I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business and Ace Enders and Million Different People) until 2012 when they released In Currents, which took them back to their roots of loud, angsty rock with Enders’ emotionally charged vocals. The Early November followed up that in 2015 with their latest effort, Imbue, which seemingly came out of nowhere on Rise Records, continuing in that same path, and proving that they’re at their best when they’re doing what got them known in the first place. Later this year, TEN, still going strong, will debut their sixth LP, Lilac, and ahead of its release, return to town to rock BreakFEST, after a stunning Mercy Lounge stop last fall.
LISTEN | “Ever So Sweet”
WATCH | “Narrow Mouth” (Official Music Video)
LOVE YOU LATER
12:30-1:00pm | Libery Hall
The brainchild of 20 year old LA raised musical artist Lexi Aviles, who’s been splitting her time in Nashville in recent years as well, Love You Later is a project that only made an introduction two years ago with the release of first single “Lost in Los Angeles,” but has since earned the young singer millions of streams, prominent playlist spots, and positive critical buzz. Channeling a dreamy, indie pop sound with an earnest and confessional thematic weight, and an unabashed love for synth-drenched, indulgent ’80s nostalgia a la Bleachers (even her photos and visual aesthetic feel gloriously retro), Aviles released her debut EP, How Many Nights Do You Dance with Tears in Your Eyes?, last year, compiling her first three singles and two new tracks, and making even more of a ripple in the blogosphere.
A truly homegrown effort, Aviles’ material for Love You Later is authentically bedroom pop, crafted alone, recorded in a garage with the help of a producer friend, and self-released, but, nonetheless, has already propelled her to some exciting early success, landing a gig opening for One Republic in Honolulu, as well as a debut at SXSW last year (and return this spring), along with a handful of national dates and some events with Sofar Sounds. More recently, Love You Later has released a couple of new singles (with the promise of another EP on the way), and has been increasingly active around town, notably hosting a super cool birthday show and release party for her hypnotic track “Harder on Myself” back in January at Mercy Lounge, and a recent “Haw Yee Disco” party at Rocketown. An exciting addition to Nashville’s indie scene, Love You Later might be the most pop without the punk artist on the BreakFEST lineup, but she’s nonetheless an extraordinary talent who brings a super cool bit of variety to the bill.
LISTEN | “Jokes On You”
LISTEN | “Lost in Los Angeles”
11:50am-12:10pm | Libery Hall
Formed in 2001 in Norfolk, Virginia, beloved group Mae quickly became a fixture of the indie scene after singing to Tooth & Nail and releasing their classic debut LP, Destination: Beautiful, in 2003. Though they’ve always been associated with the emo explosion of the mid-’00s, and did, in fact, typically tour and rub elbows with acts from that scene, as well as appear at events like Warped Tour, their sound was always a bit more power pop than pop punk, a layered, melodic, lush and emo-laced indie rock, more akin to peers like Copeland or Something Corporate. Already commanding a cult following, Mae found even more widespread acclaim for their fan-favorite sophomore release The Everglow in 2005, and briefly made the major label jump to Capital Records for their 2007 followup, Singularity.
A core trio of frontman Dave Elkins, guitarist Zach Gehring, and drummer Jacob Marshall (bassist Mark Padgett and keyboard player Rob Sweitzer departed in ’07, returned a few years later for some anniversary runs, and have been absent the current lineup for the past few years), Mae self-released a trio of EPs, Morning, Afternoon, and Evening through 2009 and ’10, before announcing their intent to go on hiatus. Fortunately for us, their split never really seemed to take; despite a marked slowdown in activity, the band managed to extended their farewell shows for a couple years, then returned not long after for some Destination: Beautiful 10th anniversary dates. By 2015, a short run of Everglow 10th dates had turned into a full-on tour, seemingly sparking a desire to mount a proper return, eventually leading to their first album in over a decade, last year’s sprawling, cosmic, and stellar Multisensory Aesthetic Experience, recored in Nashville by Elkins at his Schematic Studios (he’s been a Music City resident and full-time for almost a decade, and also has a side-project called Schematic). Though no strangers to Nashville in recent years, it’s still always a treat to see Mae live, and with new music in tow, their BreakFEST set is sure to be a standout!
LISTEN | “5 Light Years”
WATCH | “Suspension” (Official Music Video)
11:10-11:35am | Libery Hall
While they first managed to capture broader acclaim and establish themselves as one of the indie rock and post-hardcore scene’s most indispensable up and coming talents with their 2014 full-length debut, Stovall, it was couple years earlier that Microwave formally came together in the suburbs of Atlanta, initially an outlet for frontman Nathan Hardy as he returned home from a Mormon missionary trip, and began to sever tires from the church and explore the world outside of it. Recruiting high school friend and drummer Tito Pittard, and eventually guitarist Wesley Swanson and bassist Tyler Hill to round out the lineup, Microwave found some DIY level buzz with early EPs like Nowhere Feels Like Home and When the Fever Breaks Again in 2013, as well as through initial touring efforts, which frequently brought them to Nashville to play DIY haunts, and managed to put them on our radar early on as a nearby band to watch.
By Stovall, Microwave had signed to buzzy indie label SideOneDummy, amassing critical acclaim throughout the indie and punk sphere, and landing the band on the road with acts like The Wonder Years, Jimmy Eat World, Motion City Soundtrack, Man Overboard, Have Mercy, and many more, as well as spots at events like Warped Tour, Wrecking Ball, and Riot Fest in the following years. Funneling punk sensibilities into an indie and eclectic sound, also channeling elements of emo and post-hardcore, the band were able to capture much of the emotion and aesthetic of many memorable scene classics with their debut, powered by the gut-wrenching earnestness and confessional delivery of Hardy, who spent much of the first LP navigating the life experiences, excess, mistakes, and revelations of a world free of his religious upbringing. With 2016 followup Much Love, Microwave dialed up the angst and dark, internal conflict, moving beyond a wide-eyed view of a world anew into a jaded reflection on its reality, with Hardy finally comfortable in his journey to personal liberation, and yet still gripping with the existential implications. Due for a followup, Microwave return to town seasoned from several years on the road, and remain one of the most raw, eclectic, and earnest up and coming rock bands around.
LISTEN | “Stovall”
WATCH | “Vomit” (Official Music Video)
10:25-10:50am | Libery Hall
The musical alias of Kelc Galluzzo, who grew up in small-town Ohio, and knew from her youngest days that she had a passion for performing, Jetty Bones (named in honor of a real life Betty Jones, who apparently broke out of her all girl’s catholic school to remove herself from a situation where she wasn’t happy) first sprung onto the scene and caught our ear with her debut EP, Crucial States, in 2016. Cleary a fan of and influenced bands from the pop punk and emo world, even if her own sound often veers into indie pop territory, Jetty Bones further honed her style and crafted a more raw, personal, confessional, and poetic exploration of human connection with the following year’s sophomore EP, Old Women, released through Take This to Heart Records, and helping the talented up and comer reach an even wider organic following throughout the indie scene.
Still harboring a fiercely DIY attitude, relying on a close circle of friends and collaborators to help flesh out and perform what is largely a homegrown, bedroom effort, over the past few years Jetty Bones has already toured with exciting bands like The Wonder Years, The Early November, Tiny Moving Parts, The Dangerous Summer, Knuckle Puck, and Mat Kerekes, and has earned acclaim from outlets like Alternative Press, Substream, and Chorus.fm. On her latest EP, this year’s — (pronounced “hyphen”), Galluzzo has produced what is at once both her most polished, poppy, layered, and cohesive record yet, and also her most intimate and heavy, delving into topics like trauma, metal health, and interpersonal relationships, all wrapped up in sharp, poetic, and earnest lyrical prowess and lush vocal delivery. Resonant, real, and impossibly poppy, Jetty Bones is definitely a must-see at this year’s BreakFEST!
LISTEN | “Better”
WATCH | “Innocent Party” (Live Acoustic)
9:45-10:05am | Libery Hall
Founded in early 2017 by members of Light Beam Rider, after that promising former Mississippi-bred project split, Nashville’s Have A Rad Day, or H.A.R.D., as they generally go by, have been gaining local buzz since first appearing on a number of bills that year. The group garnered attention for first single, “Bellyacher,” not long after coming together, and with production and co-writing from Diarrhea Planet’s Jordan Smith, and guest vocals from The Weeks’ Cyle Barnes, it served as an exciting, commanding, confident introduction, establishing the band’s sound somewhere between DP’s shred-worthy, riff-tastic, fun loving party punk, and The Weeks’ sludgy, southern rock.
Another early single, “Hometown Hero,” further flexed H.A.R.D.’s range and had us keeping a close eye on the group ahead of their absolutely fantastic debut EP, Have A Rad Day, which dropped last summer, and serves a hell of an introductory effort, landing as one last year’s best local releases, and asserting H.A.R.D. as the next great Nashville rock band to watch, especially if you’ve been mourning the loss of Diarrhea Planet as hard as we have (Smith’s production hand is definitely felt, and he even appears as a guest on standout track “Sports Sinner”). The hard-hitting, fun-loving, riff-shredding indie punks are another inspired choice for this year’s BreakFEST, adding more local flair and pushing the sonic range of the lineup. If you’re not fully awake by their set, you will be by the end!
LISTEN | “Bellyacher”
WATCH | “Sports Sinner” (Official Music Video)
9:10-9:30am | Libery Hall
Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, none of the four young women who make up fast rising, hard rocking punk outfit Doll Skin are older than 22, but have, impressively, already released a couple of albums with another on the way, supported acts like Social Distortion and The Dead Kennedys, appeared on the Vans Warped Tour, and have earned national press and particularly long-running regional acclaim. Formed after meeting at the School Of Rock Scottsdale, Doll Skin came together in 2013 as teens, winning a local Rock Revolution battle of the bands competition, which caught the attention of Megadeth bassist and judge David Ellefson, who later approached the group to help guide their career and produce their early work.
Doll Skin’s 2015 debut EP, In Your Face, helped earn broader buzz, and an expanded version, In Your Face (Again), served as something of a de-facto debut LP the following year, catching the attention of national press outlets and earning the group a reputation as an artist to watch. By proper original full-length debut Manic Pixie Dream Girl in 2017, Doll Skin were regularly touring, heralded for their polished fusion of punk, pop punk, and metal, making them a versatile act, and a band with more bite than their brightly colored hair would suggest. Their upcoming new record, Love Is Dead and We Killed Her, due out June 28 though new label home Hopeless Records, was inspired by traumatic and extraordinary personal events, and already seems like the band’s most mature, raw, and dark album to date, but don’t worry, their electrifying live show, forged from years on the road, should bring plenty of levity and excitement. Show up early and see what they’re all about!
LISTEN | “Let’s Be Honest”
WATCH | “Mark My Words” (Official Music Video)
1:50pm | Luna Record Shop [acoustic]
We can’t even began to guess who the special guest for the acoustic slate at Luna Records will be. One of the main event’s performers playing a stripped-down bonus set? Founder Chad Gilbert with his What’s Eating Gilbert side project? Someone from last year? (Yellowcard’s William Ryan Key plays live with NFG and will presumably be present, and members of several other 2018 acts like Bayside, Cartel, and Free Throw are local). Another new local favorite on the rise? We don’t want to get your hopes too high and have no inside knowledge here, but the Nashville area has no shortage of great talent, and boasts plenty of transplants from the pop punk world, so this definitely warrants venturing out to find out for yourself (and the already-announced local acts, which you can preview below, are, of course, great as well)!
12:10pm | Luna Record Shop [acoustic]
Local to Franklin and a relatively new act, teenage outfit Ill Spector, who are all lifelong friends, made their debut with single “Honey” in 2017, dropping their eponymous first EP a few months later. Citing influences like Grizzly Bear, Radiohead, and alt-J, the band fuse elements of indie rock, post-rock, alternative, and folk, crafting a lush, melodically dense sound which they’ve only managed to further hone with more recent singles “Ab Aeterno” and “Reverend,” the latter of which boasts a moody, hypnotic dynamism that gives of flashes of acts like Manchester Orchestra and Modest Mouse. This young group are already stunningly talented, and we suspect they’re only getting started- keep a close eye on them!
WATCH | “Reverend” (Official Music Video)
GAMES WE PLAY
11:35am | Luna Record Shop [acoustic]
Hailing originally from Miami and now Nashville based, pop punks Games We Play started out as a promising high school band, and now seem to be more or less revamped as a solo outlet for 18 year old frontman Emmyn Calleiro. Across some early demos, a 2016 debut EP, Play Games & Die, and last year’s aptly-titled Senior Year EP, the band forged a sound that seems more like something beamed from the past rather than by teens today, unabashedly influenced by bands like New Found Glory (though contemporary in moments like the more edgy, energetic side of 5 Seconds of Summer), boasting huge hooks, high energy, punk spirit, and pop accessibility. This seems to be Calleiro’s first show back after something of a break, so be sure to welcome him to town!
WATCH | “Never Let You Go” (Official Music Video)
10:50am | Luna Record Shop [acoustic]
Made up of co-lead singer-songwriters Brooke Bonderer and Alan Davis, local transplants Brave Holiday first came together a few years ago in Davis’s native Sarasota, FL, sparking an immediate creative chemistry after Bonderer had located there from Missouri. Within a year of honing their emotional, harmony-drenched, earnest, and powerful indie pop sound, the duo were independently touring the nation, and soon settled on Nashville as their new home base in late 2016. More recently they’ve writing and recording with producer Andrew Bergthold, and after a promising string of singles last year, we’re definitely deeming Brave Holiday a local band to watch!
WATCH | “Fight For It” (Official Music Video)