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Hawthorne Heights Bring The Is For Lovers Festival to Salt Lake City

July 30, 2023

Utah’s newest concert venue, The Granary, in downtown Salt Lake City, played host to all things Emo recently as The Is for Lovers music festival came to town.  Is for Lovers, is a one-day, multi-city music festival, curated and started by Hawthorne Heights, and brought Emo music royalty to Salt Lake City.  The festival featured a diverse lineup, ranging from up-and-coming bands such as Salt Lake’s own, Stereo Ranger and House Parties coming all the way from Texas to heavyweight acts such as Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Plain White T’s, Secondhand Serenade, Pup, and of course Hawthorne Heights and headliners, Alkaline Trio. 

For fans of the Emo music genre, the day was a dream come true, me included.  It brought back memories of high school, teenage angst and days spent immersed in Emo music.  This festival also had a unique atmosphere, one that I wish more festivals had, as festival goers were able to mingle and interact with band members both during their performances, at various activities and throughout the day as the artists walked around talking with others and watched other bands perform in the crowd with the fans. 

One of the events that fans got to interact with artists was the “Dunk A Punk” dunk tank.  Throughout the day artists took turns getting in the dunk tank and getting dunked by fans, which I’m sure felt great as the day’s temperatures reached triple digits.  House Parties vocalist, Chaney Elaine, was the first artist I had the opportunity to see get dunked during the day.  After her set she went over and got into the dunk tank and talked with fans between her time spent falling into the water tank. 

As the day progressed the crowds swelled with most of the crowd arriving midway through the day when Red Jumpsuit Apparatus hit the stage followed by more of the more recognizable names of our youth.  Fans that came early though were treated to fantastic performances from lesser-known bands, such as House Parties, whose lead vocalist drew comparisons to a young Haley Williams.  She impressed many of the fans with lots of the fest goers telling me how much they enjoyed their set. 

Throughout the day we were treated to some amazing performances from some awesome bands.  Singing “Hey There Delilah” with the Plain White T’s, Seeing Secondhand Serenade perform “Fall for You” live for my first time, reminiscing about how much we loved 3OH3! and how energetic and fun they are to see perform.  When Hawthorne Heights graced the stage, the venue was in an uproar, packed with excitement and anticipation.  When the notes from “Niki FM” hot the speakers the crowd lost it as everyone started singing and crowd surfers started to appear for the first time in the day.  UP next were PUP and Four Years Strong who had the loudest sets of the evening.  The crowd surfers that started during Hawthorne Heights set, now were coming in waves as the music got louder and more intense. 


Closing out the night were punk mainstays, Alkaline Trio, whose set reinvigorated the crowd.  Salt Lake City has always had a love relationship with Punk bands and the connection was obvious with Alkaline Trio’s performance. 

Overall, the Is For Lovers festival has been a resounding success, embodying the essence of what a music festival should be.  A celebration of music and a connection between the artists that write and perform the music and the fans who love and make the music their own.  Secondhand Serenade vocalist, John Vesely, aptly captured the festival’s spirit when I had the chance to speak with him.  He described the festival to me as a reunion for both the artists and the fans.  It is a reunion for them to get together with some of the artists he loves so much and has toured with before and that feeling of friendship and connecting carries over to the fans who see it through their performances and experiences with the artists as they interact with each other throughout the festival. 

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