I've been an avid attendee of the Warped Tour for the better part of the last decade, but the last few years have made me question whether or not I would continue what has become a summer tradition. The line-up has consistently decreased in quality, making it obvious that I am loosing touch with the current music scene, but I ultimately end up having a good time and catching at least a few good bands. With a decent line-up for the gig's 16th anniversary, I was happy to cover the Massachusetts date of the tour this year.
Once I had all of my press issues sorted out, I was immediately faced with a tough decision when I saw the giant, inflatable schedule for the day. Every Time I Die, Four Year Strong, and Polar Bear Club were all playing at around the same time. I decided to go with Every Time I Die since I had seen them least recently. They always put on an energetic set, so it was a great way to start the day. I was happy to find that they still played Hot Damn-era songs ("Ebolorama", "She's My Rushmore", "Floater", which featured a wall of hugs) along with the newer material. They closed with "We'rewolf", and I rushed to see a couple of Four Year Strong songs. They brought a big crowd for their home-state show, and every one of them was singing along as they ended their set with "Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die".
There was a little break in the afternoon, which I spent doing press and checking out some of the booths. Amongst the plethora of ugly, flashy band merchandise and dehydrated kids puking, there was some cool stuff to be found. Andrew WK had his own "party tent" where he appeared to meet with fans; there were skateboarders riding on a half-pipe; Trojan gave out free condoms; Wonka gave out free candy; Truth spread information about the dangers of tobacco via games of Simon Says with onlookers. (Note: Truth bears no responsibility for content created by third parties.)
I spent much of the remainder of the day at the main stage (dubbed the Teggart Stage), beginning with We The Kings. Highlights of their set included a solid cover of Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle", which vocalist Travis Clark professed to be his favorite song, and "We'll Be A Dream" with Cassadee Pope of Hey Monday filling in for Demi Lovato's part. All American Rejects, who drew a big crowd, followed. I don't know if the heat got to him or he's always like this, but vocalist Tyson Ritter had some ridiculous stage banter between songs. Clad in a white suit in the blistering heat, he rambled on about a number of things in what I assume were attempts to be humorous but came off more crazy than anything. They played all of the expected hits, including "Dirty Little Secret", "Move Along", and "Gives You Hell", the latter of which proved to be great for crowd participation.
Alkaline Trio followed. While I don't dislike their new material, I was happy that their set contained a lot of old material, including fan favorites like "Private Eye", "Stupid Kid", and the set-ending "97". I was a little disappointed that "Radio" was left out, but I can't complain after hearing all of the other great songs. It was during their set that the rain began to fall. While it wasn't nearly as bad as the torrential downpours of the two preceding years, it continued for the remaining three hours of the show. Then it was Motion City Soundtrack's turn, and the big crowd didn't seem to be bothered by the rain. Fans sang along especially loud to the band's hits, "L.G. Fuad" and "Everything Is Alright".
Reel Big Fish, whose tent provided me with some cover from the rain, was up next. I only caught a few of their songs - fan favorites "Sell Out" and "I Want Your Girlfriend to Be My Girlfriend Too" among them - but they were fun. I then ran to the pavilion to see Sum 41. I caught the last song by The Casualties, who proved that there are still some punk bands on Warped. Sum 41, despite not being on the main stage, brought in a huge crowd who went wild for the older material. I stayed for about half of their set, but apparently I missed them cover the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" and end with "Fat Lip". Disappointing, but I knew I knew I had to be back to see Andrew W.K.
I can't think of a better way to end Warped Tour than with Andrew W.K. Unfortunately, many people seemed to disagree, as the place had nearly emptied for the final performer. Regardless, Andrew came out with "It's Time to Party" and didn't stop until his set concluded with his breakout hit, "Party Hard", with the stage filled with bodies. It was the perfect way to cap off a fun day.
It's difficult enough trying to catch all of the bands you want on the tour, but adding press coverage to the day only ups the stress. I did film acoustic Backstage Sessions with Emarosa, VersaEmerge, The Swellers, AM Taxi, and We Are The In Crowd, which will be available for your viewing pleasure in the near future. Unfortunately I somehow missed all of those bands' live sets, but you won't be disappointed by their acoustic performances.
With a diverse line-up, Warped Tour has something for everyone. It's great to see that the tour is still going strong after 15 years. We can complain all we want about how it has changed over the years, but it simply wouldn't make sense if it was ran the same way now. At the end of the day, it still provides the same kind of affordable fun for music fans.