Review by: Jordan Nathanson


It has been one full year since the world was turned upside down by a world-wide pandemic. We watched as our favorite artists find other ways to release their music and stay connected with fans. We watched music festivals online or through a live stream while wishing we could gather together and enjoy the music that connects us all. On Saturday May 8th, 2021, the chance to come together finally came to a reality. Hosted at Ace Café in Orlando, Florida, Kraken Music Fest gave concert junkies a night of normalcy. Starting off the night was Astoria State.

What a great band to open the night and set the mood. Following Astoria State was We’re Wolves from West Palm Beach, Florida. They were much heavier than Astoria State and already had the crowd hooked with their wicked guitar solos. When I tell you that I made sure to look them up on Spotify to add them to my playlist, I mean it. They’re music is the classic heavy metal sound, but they also have a rap metal song, giving their fans a variety of music.

As the Orlando sun set on this gorgeous evening, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus takes the stage and kicks off the night with “In Fate’s Hands” in celebration of their 15th anniversary of their album Don’t You Fake It. They played the entire album from start to finish! The amount of nostalgia that filled the air seeing all generations together listening, dancing and enjoying the music was enough to make you cry. Especially when they played “Face Down”. I lost my voice singing along with everyone else. The energy dipped as they ended their set with “Your Guardian Angel” but you could still feel love in the air. It was an amazing way to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Don’t You Fake It.

Speaking of 15th anniversaries, Hawthorne Heights was also celebrating their 15th anniversary of If Only You Were Lonely. They opened with “This Is Who We Are” and just hearing the lyrics I know it seems like we’re never coming back/I know it feels like we’re never coming back, made this moment mean so much to those who have not seen a live show since the pandemic. It honestly was the most amazing sight to see crowd surfers and mosh pits again while listening to the music that got me through a lot of emotional times during my adolescents and so many others. I know for me, when they played “I’m On Your Side” and “Saying Sorry” really made me emotional as I screamed those lyrics as loud as I could. Of course, those were not the only songs that I personally have a tie to. “Breathing in Sequence”, “Language Lesson (Five Words or Less)”, “Niki FM” and “Ohio Is for Lovers” sent chills down my spine as the crowd erupted with screams and cheers.

To keep along with the feeling of nostalgia, I turned to my mom as Hawthorne Heights left the stage and said, “this is the music that you told me to turn off when I was a teenager.”  Yes, I was there with my parents who are in their 50s while I am in my late 20s. A lot of families were there with their young children reliving their youth and introducing them to their music. Front man Travis Clark is no difference as his band took the stage while his three daughters, their friends and his family all joined the crowd in singing along to their set. The opened with Skyway Avenue and brought the dance party to life. The energy never stopped, even as Travis told a story about the first time he ever…. played “Tetris” with his girlfriend, leading him to write “Secret Valentine”. The night ended with so much energy and emotions as they closed with all of Travis’s family (mother, his wife, their kids and friends) all on stage dancing to “Check Yes, Juliet”. This is obviously a night I will never forget. This night was the first night that I have felt normal. This night took all of the pain, all of my depression, all of society’s anger away just to give Orlando a night of true peace and love.

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