An all day music festival. Sounds like a dream after the last year and a half, right? I didn’t even remember what it was like to attend an all day music festival until Four Chord Music Festival 7 came around.
Originally, the lineup consisted of headliner, Blink-182, which I know was an absolute dream come true for Rishi Bahl of Eternal Boy, who has made this festival come to life. Unfortunately due to Mark Hoppus being diagnosed with cancer, the band needed to cancel their entire year of shows. It was an extremely unfortunate situation for everyone, but Rishi, like a true professional, took no time to try and fill the spot on the bill. Rise Against was soon added and the show went on as planned.
Friday, September 17th finally came along. Show day. I offered to take VIP photos so Chris and I got there around 10:30 and stayed the entire night through the first few songs of Rise Against, so needless to say it was a long day.
The VIP guests were a lucky bunch as they got to come early and received special merch, pizza and two acoustic performances, one from Bearings and one from Derek of Mayday Parade.
There were two stages on the field, which is how they were able to switch band to band so quickly. That’s what the coolest thing was about this year was there were two stages and many food, merch and sponsor tents. It really had such Vans Warped Tour vibes, even coming from someone who had never attended a Warped Tour before.
Around 1pm the show officially started, with hardly any break time between bands, all the way through 10pm. Look Out Loretta was the first band on the bill. In case you’ve never heard of them, they’re a local Pittsburgh pop punk band who has played just about every Four Chord since the beginning. They bring the pop punk vibes immediately as they play their first notes. Of course front man, Josh, has to start off cracking a few jokes too!
Soon after Look Out Loretta was Future Teens, who took stage two, sponsored by Born Dead. As their website states, they identify as a “bummer pop band from Boston.” They drew a few more people to the stage and I even saw a few fans in the audience singing along with every word.
Another band that has been a Four Chord regular is Keep Flying, who took the next spot on the bill. Keep Flying is a 5 piece punk rock band from Northeast USA. They add a few different elements to their sound with a saxophone and a trombone, which is extremely unique for the genre, creating a ska-like vibe. Their drummer and one of their guitarists were actually the two people who put on the trivia portion of the VIP part of the day, so this wasn’t the first time I’d seen them.
The next band up on the Revival stage was Bearings, from Ottawa, Canada. They are a 5 piece indie pop/punk band. Bearings actually played the VIP acoustic session, so it was cool to get the chance to see them play twice. I’d never actually heard them before so hearing them acoustic and then full band was dope! They also seemed to have a decent number of fans in the audience as well.
Just Friends took the Born Dead stage. Just Friends is a funk rock band from Dublin, California. I actually saw them at Sad Summer Festival back in 2019 and they put on a great show both times I’ve seen them. It is also super cool because they are co-fronted by Sam Kless and Brianda Goyos Leon, who goes by Brond. Both Sam and Brond have incredible stage presence and really involve the audience in each performance. Just Friends was a great addition to the Four Chord lineup.
The next band to play the Revival stage was none other than Four Chord alums themselves, Patent Pending. Patent Pending is a pop/punk band from New York and are also great friends with Rishi. I’ve been attending Four Chord Music Festival every year (except 2020 but no one is counting that as a year) for the last 6 years and they have played each and every one of them. They are so much fun to watch and even after seeing them so many times, it never gets old. Lead singer, Joe Ragosta, is one of the most energetic performers. He runs around the entire stage, has the absolute best jumps (make for great photos) and really involves the audience. I’ve seen him go into the audience a number of times too. It says a lot about how much they care about the fans and the music scene they are a part of.
Real Friends was the next band to hit the stage. They are a 5 piece pop/punk band from a small town in Illinois. They actually had released their new album, Torn In Two, the same day so the crowd was able to hear a number of the new ones live on release day. They were another band that had great energy on stage.
Next up we have the man of the hour.. Rishi’s band, Eternal Boy. By this point, I’m sure you’re aware they are a pop/punk band from Pittsburgh, fronted by Rishi Bahl, a man of many, many talents. Not only is he a frontman/guitarist for a pop/punk band or the creator of the Four Chord Music Festival or the founder of the Four Chord Music record label, he is also a professor at a local university. I first met him as he was one of my professors and my academic advisor. Talk about a match made in heaven! He keeps both of his lives separate in a very professional way and it is incredible to watch from both sides. He was joined by Andy Mayer on drums and Joe Harbulak on vocals/guitar as they play to the crowd at Wild Things Park. Eternal Boy’s performances are always top notch and they tend to throw in funny jokes between songs. Recently, they added a cover of “We Are Never Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift, Rishi’s #1 girl crush and I think they made a great pop/punk rendition of it that is enjoyed by all music fans. They kept the crowd on their feet and as the night went on, there were an increasing amount of crowd surfers and their set was no exception.
Four Year Strong took the Born Dead stage next. They are a pop/punk band from Massachusetts and a newbie to the Four Chord Music Festival. Four Year Strong was one of the heavier bands of the evening, compared to most of the ones that preceded their performance. This, of course, caused a lot of moshing and crowd surfing in the crowd. They were ridiculously fun to watch and were very high energy, which we needed since it was close to 5pm and most people had been there in the hot sun for the last 5 hours or so.
Mayday Parade was next on the bill. I’m sure they’re not a band I need to introduce as they’re a much larger name in the pop/punk/emo scene. It’s actually funny how many times I’ve seen them live… I think I’m at 6 times with this show… and I’ve shot their set every single time. I believe that’s a record for me! That being said, they put on a really great show every time. One of the most notable things is Derek, the lead vocalist, is almost never wearing shoes and this is probably the first time I’ve seen him perform in shoes. They have a large following and watching the bond between them and the audience members is so special. It will never get old.
The last band to take the Born Dead stage was The Menzingers, a pop/punk band from Scranton, Pennsylvania. If I were to compare them to another well known band, I’d say The Killers. They were a lot of fun to watch too because they had incredible stage presence and knew how to keep the crowd moving.
Another band that needs no formal introduction… State Champs. They came on towards the end of the night and their set fell just after sunset. They are yet another pop/punk band with a large fanbase. It was extremely apparent that a lot of the audience had come to see them perform. There was quite a large amount of crowd surfing throughout their entire set. I swear I couldn’t even move in the pit without constantly watching my back because there were just waves of girls trying to even catch Derek’s, the least vocalist, attention even for just a second. I have seen them a few times as well, one of which was Four Chord 4, 4 years ago. State Champs has awesome stage presence and really keep the crowd wrapped around their fingers.
Second to last on stage was The Used, one of the OG bands of the early 2000’s emo era. They are unapologetically them. Their set, everything from the performance, to the lights, to the music was everything you would expect from a Used show. From a photographers perspective, the fog was at an all time high, which made it hard to get photos of the rest of the band, but, man did it make for some cool shots mixed with the dope lighting. Despite it being around 9pm, and most people having been there for 8+ hours, there was no lack of energy in the park.
Lastly we have headliners, Rise Against. Talk about a blast from the past. They actually formed in 1999, likely being one of the first bands in the emo era, following Blink-182, of the early 2000’s. They brought their trademark vocals and sound to the Four Chord 7 stage and did not disappoint those who were in attendance. Their set was also just as beautiful, visually, as The Used because the lighting was off the charts, and the shots I was able to get of them are some I’m very proud of. Seeing them live, I was surprised how little crowd surfing their was during my time in the pit, but nonetheless, the energy was unwavering. They were the perfect ending to a perfect day.
Four Chord Music Festival is the biggest annual music festival in Pittsburgh. Rishi works tirelessly to make this show what it is and he does a fantastic job. As previously mentioned, I’ve been to all but one of them and they just get bigger and better every year. So if you’re a pop/punk, rock or emo music fan, I highly recommend you make your way to whatever next year’s Four Chord has in store because I guarantee it will be just as great, if not even better than it was this year.
As always, some of my photos are featured below, but please check out the whole album on my Flickr page.