It’s safe to say I was more excited for Warped Tour this year than I’ve ever. Since I wasn’t able to experience the early 2000s glory years, 2012 was set to be my glory year for Warped Tour. With bands like New Found Glory, Yellowcard, and Taking Back Sunday on the bill, this was the best of the best.
The day started off heavy with Sleeping With Sirens. Having only been a casual listener of their records, I was very interested in how the guys would sound live. Sure enough, Kellin Quinn is even better live than on the record. His stage performance is full of bravado and prowess – he owns the mic. There’s a reason why Sleeping With Sirens is quickly starting to be one of the biggest bands in the scene, as “Do It Now Remember It Later” and “If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn” sounded massive live. Stay on the look out for these guys – they’re taking over the world.
Of Mice & Men were up next, and I was amped to finally see them live. Simply put, Austin Carlile is a maniac. Taking the stage with an American flag raised, the frontman had complete control of the crowd. Surprisingly, the absence of Shayley Bourget didn’t hurt the band at all; Phil Manansala and Alan Ashby helped out with the clean vocals in superb fashion. Carlile’s dad even crowd surfaced during “Second & Sebring.” Frantic and energetic, Of Mice & Men is a band that needs to be experienced live.
After OM&M, I quickly ran over to the “Acoustic Basement” tent to catch Transit’s acoustic set. I only caught the first half of the set, but the guys played a fantastic version of “Long Lost Friends” that had the whole tent singing along. Something about an acoustic guitar just fits Joe Boynton’s vocals perfectly. The “Acoustic Basement” stage is easily one of the coolest things about Warped this year, as it allows for a special environment, different than the norm of the tour. It’s intimate and inviting, so definitely check it out if you get the chance, especially if Transit is playing.
I unfortunately had to cut Transit’s set short to head back to the main stage for Yellowcard. This year marked the first time Yellowcard have been at Warped in many years, so this was definitely one for the books. Having already seen them live this year, I knew what to expect from the boys – and they of course delivered. From the always-memorable guitar on the opening “Breathing” to the last words of the classic “Ocean Avenue,” this was Warped Tour at its finest, and a blast from the past at that. The guys were full of more confidence than ever before, so it shouldn’t be any wonder why Southern Air sounds massive in every sense of the word.
After YC, I ran to catch what I could of Senses Fail, having never seen them live. Buddy Nielsen sounded incredible live (he absolutely destroyed “War Paint”). “Calling All Cars” and “Buried A Lie” really brought back memories of why I fell in love with this type of music in the first place. If you’re looking for a band that just knows how to rock, hit up the Senses Fail set and scream your lungs out. Senses Fail have yet to release an unmemorable record in ten years, and their live performance really echoes this.
I made sure to see Every Time I Die next, because quite frankly, their live show is insane. Keith Buckley is an absolute madman on stage – and off stage, as he roared on top of the crowd throughout the set. Ripping into “No Son Of Mine,” ETID’s set was as intense as you’d expect. “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space” sounds even better live, with Buckley’s range dominating every second. This is a band that knows exactly what fans came to see – and they put on the show you’ve always imagined seeing. Mic swinging, crowd surfing, and furious screaming all dominate the set, leaving no room for mercy or reserve, just rock music.
I headed to the California decked out stage to see Pierce The Veil next. They had the biggest crowd they’ve ever had, so it’s safe to say the set was quite a treat. Kicking off with “Besitos,” Fuentes and crew sound even better live on the record, every time. The ax-men make the show all the more exciting, commanding the fret board while spinning guitars over their head song after song. “Bulletproof Love” was exceptionally inciting live, while “King for a Day” really showed the band’s growth since I’d seen them in 2010. Unfortunately, Kellin Quinn couldn’t make an appearance, because he flew home right after SWS’ set to see his newborn daughter – I think it’s safe to say he gets Warped Tour’s Father of the Year award. Having a girl come up to be serenaded with “Yeah Boy and Doll Face” and “Finishing with “Caraphernelia,” Pierce The Veil really put on a show, easily being one of the most memorable acts of the day.
After this set, I went back to my childhood to see New Found Glory, who sure enough opened with my childhood anthem “All Downhill From Here.” Clad in matching NFG uniforms and sporting their “Pop Punk’s Not Dead” backdrop, New Found Glory were in their element in every way possible. Sticking namely to old tracks – “Hit Or Miss,” Understatement,” “Something I Call Personality” were ideal cuts – the Pop-Punk Godfathers stayed true to their roots, even quickly covering “Basket Case.” There’s a reason New Found Glory still dominate the pop-punk scene, and yelling out the words to “My Friends Over You” at Warped Tour makes it clear why.
I traveled to the other main stage to finish the day off with All Time Low. It was my first time seeing them live, but I can understand why people compare their stage banter to that of Blink. Jack was sporting a “Boner” t-shirt, while the guys continuously had girls throwing bras up on stage to them. They were comical and entertaining, while their music sounded even better live than on the record, especially “The Reckless and the Brave” and “Time Bomb.” Their live performance just allows for more energy and youth. They did play “Jasey Rae” thankfully, making their set one for old and new fans. As one of the biggest bands in the scene today, All Time Low’s live show is one for the books.
Seeing all those bands – although I did miss Taking Back Sunday and Make Do And Mend – made me fully aware why I love music so much. It was my 2004, my glory year of Warped Tour. Growing up on Ocean Avenue and Catalyst made seeing bands like Yellowcard and New Found Glory play the main stage make me aware of why I fell in love with this music in the first place – it brings fans together on a scorching hot day in the sun to experience music. All the great bands playing the two main stages alone make this year’s Warped Tour worth going to, so get going.
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