HeartSupport Fest’s First Annual Festival meets Orlando Florida with GLOWING success

HeartSupport Fest is a brand-new festival to 2023 that is unlike any other festival of its kind. This festival is founded by Jake Luhrs of August Burns Red. Jake stands for those who struggle, who need a voice, those who are looking for hope and opportunity. Luhrs wanted to give a voice to those who suffered adversities in their lives or were lost and unsure. This spoke volumes to the world of the music industry. This was for certain going to be a festival that would take off with amazing success and hopefully stand the test of time like those before it, like Vans Warped Tour. Luhrs made it his mission to connect with his fans and bring them into his world, making sure that his fans knew that they were not alone. Jake spent as much time as he could talking to his fans about his own life as well as theirs, connecting on a very personal level. Luhrs would discuss things like addiction and abuse whether it be substance or otherwise. He would connect with his fans and hear their stories with an open heart, which could be harder to find in the music industry with not getting much time to connect with artists or even the opportunity to talk one on one with your favorite bands. Luhrs would tell his fans about forgiveness, understanding, and making amends with yourself and your situation. This is truly amazing to see in a world that is full of hussel and bussel everywhere you look. There is always so much noise and movement that it is a gift to be able to slow down and hear the words of your favorite artists or someone you look up to as more than just a song, hear these words be humanized and directed straight to your heart.

“I’m beyond excited to announce we will be hosting a music festival to benefit HeartSupport and the community! Having the opportunity to host a mission-based music festival with some of my favorite fellow musicians is an absolute dream come true. Our goal with HeartSupport fest is to create a high-energy festival experience and bring the mental health conversation to the forefront of the festival community. There is power in music and power in community. We’re grateful for the opportunity to bring to the wonderful city of Orlando, Florida our favorite artists, and you, our friends and fellow fans.”-Jake Luhrs
(Singer of August Burns Red {Founder of HeartSupport})

Upon arrival to the festival, I could see the excitement and joy on the faces of all those around me. I have heard about HeartSupport by many different people when it was first announced. Every single word I hear about the festival was full of anticipation of what will be one of the biggest and most anticipated festivals of 2023. This festival was so smooth running. The workers and the crew were super warming and welcoming and everything was handled so professionally. There is usually so much chaos around you at festivals, however this festival was one of the easiest I have ever been to.

The first performance I was able to see was Hawthorne Heights, an American rock band from Dayton, Ohio, formed in 2001. Current members include JT Woodruff (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Matt Ridenour (bass guitar, backing vocals), Mark McMillon (lead guitar, unclean backing vocals), and Chris Popadak (drums, percussion). Their performance was incredibly energetic. JT did bang up job making sure that every fan was up on their feet and having the most fun. The setlist included “Saying Sorry”, “Niki FM”, “Pens and Needles”, and “Ohio Is For Lovers”. Hawthorne Heights had their fans hooked from the very first note to the very last. Leaving the fans wanting want once they performed their super famous hit, “Ohio Is For Lovers”. The set flew by, if I may say so myself. I am never let down by Hawthorne Heights, and I believe I speak for the rest of the fest goers. That set was 10/10 and I cannot wait to see them perform again.

It was on to the next set, Senses Fail, is an American rock band formed in Ridgewood, New Jersey, in 2001. Founded by vocalist James “Buddy” Nielsen, who is currently the only remaining original member. As a former Jersey girl, I grew up on Senses Fail. I have seen their shows since I have been starting to go to concerts. Senses Fail was one of my first concert experiences for myself in High School. My anticipation for Senses Fails set was extremely high. They were one of the bands I was most excited for on this current HeartSupport lineup. Senses Fail drew their fans in real quick piling them in towards the barricade waiting to see this Jersey band blow the minds of all the festival goers. Roars filled the fairgrounds as Jason Milbank (lead guitarist) began to play The National Anthem. This set was going to unforgettable. Their setlist included: “You’re Cute When You Scream”, “Calling All Cars”, “Can’t Be Saved”, “Buried a Lie”, “Rum Is for Drinking, Not for Burning”, “Death by Water”, “Bite to Break Skin”, “Chop Suey / Down With the Sickness / Break Stuff / Bulls on Parade”. Buddy dedicated “Death by Water”, to his wife who served in the military, telling the crowd that she is one of the strongest people he had ever met. This setlist was filled with bangers and their best hits. You could see just how thrilled and overjoyed the fans were to hear some of these older songs that Senses Fail put out on their past albums. No one knew what to expect with their setlist; if it would be full of newer songs or not, but they definitely got what they asked for. Senses Fail delivered in a big way, leaving smiles on the faces of every single fan. There is no doubt in my mind, that if you hadn’t heard of Senses Fail before, you were a fan now.

Time for Silverstein, a Canadian rock band from Burlington, Ontario, formed in 2000. This was a set for HeartSupport that I knew was going to be extremely powerful. I have seen Silverstein several times in the past and they have always put on one hell of a show. From stage presence to quality of their songs and lineup. The crowd was filling up fast as the Silverstein screen began to flash on stage. Here it goes, time to get ready for an incredible performance. Their setlist included: “Infinite”, “It’s Over”, “Smile in Your Sleep”, “Smashed Into Pieces”, “Bad Habits”, “Vices”, “Die Alone”, “Ultraviolet”, “My Heroine”, “The Afterglow”. Silverstein’s set was no short of the party that I believed it would be. Crowd surfers were ripping down the crowds at an intense pace. I had never seen that many crowd surfers coming in at once before at previous shows I have attended, what a great sight to see.  Canadian flags started to fly over the festival goers showing pure pride for these Canadain boys. The stage presence of Shane Told and the boys are unmatched. There was not a single fan that was not having the best time watching Silverstein perform their magic. Silverstein performs a well thought out setlist giving their fans a little old and a little new. You could feel the energy in the crowd all around you, what an amazing set.

Next up, Spiritbox. One word comes to mind when I think about this band, WOW. I have never had the pleasure of seeing Spiritbox before and man was I missing out. Spiritbox, is a Canadian heavy metal band from Victoria, British Columbia. Comprised of Husband and wife duo guitarist Mike Stringer and vocalist Courtney LaPlante established Spiritbox in 2017. Spiritbox’s set was just as impactful with power as their lead singer, Courtney’s vocals. It is so great to see a woman fronted band so strong on a festival with strong male fronted bands. Their setlist included: “Circle With Me”, “Hurt You”, “Yellowjacket”, “Blessed Be”, “Holy Roller”, “Halcyon”, “Rotoscope”, “Hysteria.” Due to technical difficulties during their set security asked the photographers to exit the pit after the second song, unfortunately. The power coming from this band while they perform is absolutely electric. I made my way to the back of the crowd and could feel the ground shaking from the power of these incredible musicians. The energy and electricity from the crowd sent a surge of power through your chest. How have I never seen this band before? I know now, I will never miss a show of theirs in the future. Even with Courtney not being able to hear the crowd or her band in her in ears, she absolutely killed it. Such a seriously inspiring and hair-raising performance by these Candaian powerhouses.

It was now time for the mind blowing, exhilarating, motivational, and influential band, The Ghost Inside. The Ghost Inside, formerly known as A Dying Dream, is an American metalcore band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 2004. These boys have been through a lot in the past several years after being involved in a very bad accident. The Ghost Inside were on their way from Lubbock to Albuquerque in their tour bus. The musicians were sleeping on their tour bus just outside El Paso when the bus collided with a tractor-trailer leaving the bus ripped apart. After such a serious situation these guys deserve to have the show of their lives and the fans were determined to make sure they did. It is so inspirational to see this band recover so strong and push on like an unbreakable army. The setlist for their set included: “Engine 45”, “The Outcast”, “Unspoken”, “Pressure Point”, “Greater Distance”, “Between The Lines” (featuring the HeartSupport Founder himself, Jake Luhrs), “Out Of Control”, “Dark Horse”, “Mercy”, “The Great Unknown”, “Shiner”, “Move Me”, “Faith or Forgiveness”, “Avalanche”, and “Aftermath”. The Ghost Inside performed such an awe-inspiring, breathtaking, and energetic performance. I will be a fan for life after seeing these guys performing. Watching the fans in complete admiration of this band was truly inspiring to witness. The band also wanted the fans to experience fun on a whole other level sending out dozens of blowup balls and floaties. This was such a blast and such an amusing sight to see. The Ghost Inside wrapped up their set and I could swear these was more energy at the wrap of their set than they even started with in the beginning which is incredible. These seasoned professionals showed HeartSupport and everyone there that they are a force to be reckoned with.

Fans were constantly moving throughout the day back and forth from stage to stage in excitement of seeing their next band hit the stage, and wow what an experience. I had an absolutely AMAZING time, and I CANNOT wait for the next HeartSupport. Thank you to everyone involved, to all the food vendors, crews, security, bands, fans, and everyone else involved. This was truly a wonderful experience, and I am forever grateful to have not only witnessed the first EVER HeartSupport but also capture these beautiful moments on camera. HeartSupport wants those to love, accept, and encourage one another and they did exactly that. This festival was not short of absolute love for each other, acceptance for all those around, and showing those that were at this festival the true meaning of ‘we are all one’, and encouraging each and every single festival goer to have the absolute best time they could with those they love. Don’t miss this festival in the future because you will truly be missing out. Fans from all over travelled to come to this festival, and the festival spoke for itself to have these fans return next year. Full gallery of the show below.