Ohio Is for Lovers Festival Proves Ohio Is Actually for Everyone

Going to music festivals is always a wild and wonderful experience. Sure, it’s hot, the music is loud, and the food can be expensive, but nothing truly compares to the magic of a great festival.


Is For Lovers Festival, a pop-punk extravaganza, delivered that magic effortlessly, leaving us feeling ecstatic to have been part of it. In 2022, Hawthorne Heights initiated this festival in three cities, and in 2023, it expanded to a whopping ten locations, making it an essential stop for punk rock enthusiasts across the country.


One of the standout features of Ohio Is For Lovers Festival was the sense of community that enveloped us from the moment we arrived. It had such a welcoming atmosphere. Everyone we met were not just fellow festival-goers, but also kindred spirits. We felt right at home, surrounded by like-minded music lovers who shared our passion for pop-punk.


The festival’s choice of venue couldn’t have been more fitting. With two pavilion stages and a smaller pop-up stage, it struck the perfect balance between accessibility and intimacy. While bouncing from stage to stage at a festival can be a bit exhausting, it is a small price to pay for an unforgettable experience. The abundance of booths and merchandise tents, offering everything from band tees to freebies, evoked memories of the iconic Warped Tour, with a lot less sweating and dirt.








Ohio Is For Lovers Festival showcased an impressive lineup. Our journey kicked off with Xanny Stars and Skye Wallace, setting the stage for a day filled with pop-punk magic. Sometimes, the unexpected adds an extra layer of excitement to a festival. Due to flight complications, Four Year Strong couldn’t make it, but Bad Luck swooped in at the last minute to save the day, delivering a fantastic performance.









Saosin’s set was another highlight, demonstrating their mastery of the genre. KennyHoopla’s performance was nothing short of spectacular. His boundless energy and charisma had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Playing crowd-favorite “hollywood sucks//,” he left an indelible mark on the festival.








As the festival’s founders, Hawthorne Heights exuded gratitude for everyone who attended. Their performance included classics like “Pens and Needles,” “Saying Sorry,” and the iconic “Ohio Is For Lovers.” It would have been quite unusual to leave out that track, especially since it’s the song the festival is named after.





The Startling Line put on an impressive performance. Their setlist included classics like “Island,” “Up And Go,” and “The Best of Me.” The band’s energetic stage presence was infectious, and it was evident that they were thoroughly enjoying themselves on stage. Their music clearly resonated with the audience, creating a fantastic atmosphere that had everyone dancing throughout their entire set.





Relient K was as fantastic as we hoped and was nothing short of enchanting. As the band took the stage, the crowd’s excitement was infectious. With a setlist that included beloved tracks like “Forget and Not Slow Down,” “The One I’m Waiting For,” and the timeless anthem “Be My Escape,” they had the audience hanging on to every word.  Relient K did not disappoint.






Underoath had the wildest crowd of the day, with fans moving, jumping, and moshing with unparalleled passion. Their setlist, including “Take a Breath,” “Writing on the Walls,” and “A Boy Brushed Red Living in Black and White,” was electrifying.






Headliners State Champs and Alkaline Trio were scheduled to perform at the same time, but for us, there was no contest – Alkaline Trio was the only option. With Atom Willard, formerly of Angels & Airwaves, as their new drummer, their energy was infectious. Matt Skiba’s announcement about new material in the works had us buzzing with excitement. Hits like “Private Eye,” “Mercy Me,” and “Radio” sent us into a frenzy, but hearing lesser-known gems like “In Vein” and “Emma” were the real treat.