Hawthorne Heights’ California Is For Lovers fest


What began as a little party in its hometown of Dayton, Ohio, a couple of years ago has morphed into a full-fledged music festival series for emo rock band Hawthorne Heights.

Hawthorne Heights’ California Is For Lovers Festival with Alkaline Trio, Thrice, Bayside and more is coming to Oak Canyon Park in Silverado on Saturday, Aug. 26.

The quartet’s Is For Lovers brand of events, which got its name from the band’s 2004 hit “Ohio is for Lovers,” has grown out of their beloved home state and is hitting places like Iowa, Tennessee and Massachusetts later this summer, and finally making a stop in California at Oak Canyon Park in Silverado on Saturday, Aug. 26.

“Orange County has one of the best fan bases in the entire world,” Hawthorne Heights singer and rhythm guitarist JT Woodruff said in a recent phone interview. As the band broke into the mainstream back in the mid ’00s, Woodruff said it ventured west and found wildly enthusiastic crowds at venues like Chain Reaction and House of Blues in Anaheim, as well as The Glass House in Pomona.

“We had no idea it was such a hotbed (area) that would just welcome us from the very beginning,” he continued. “The whole emo, screamo and ska and punk scene there, and really everything in between, it’s just been a wonderful place for us to play and definitely one of our favorites in the whole world.”

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Though their hearts may forever be with Ohio, Woodruff said there are definitely pieces of their hearts scattered in Southern California, which is why the band partnered with Orange County-based Brew Ha Ha Productions (which also produces the annual Punk in the Park Festival at Oak Canyon Park) to bring the festival to the area this year. Each of the stops features a slightly different lineup; the California edition includes Alkaline Trio, Thrice, Sleeping with Sirens, Bayside, Thursday, Atreyu, Touché Amoré, Norma Jean, Emery, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Further Seems Forever, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Diva Bleach, WinterHaven and 82Fifty.

It was important to Hawthorne Heights to incorporate as many local mom-and-pop businesses — coffee shops, restaurants and food trucks, breweries and various other independent retailers — as possible into each event and the lineup certainly has a local lean with Thrice hailing from Irvine, Atreyu from Yorba Linda/Placentia and Touché Amoré coming from Burbank. In the ultimate throwback, there will also be a “MySpace Your Face” booth at the event, which will apply very familiar makeup styles — dark and heavy eyeshadow and liner, anyone? — from all the selfies emo fans took and posted onto the then-popular social media platform.

And though it’s their festival, Hawthorne Heights isn’t headlining, but rather placing themselves midway on the schedule.

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