Being young, I have missed a lot of things in my life. Like the premiere of ďThrillerď, the day the Berlin wall came down and things like crystal Pepsi. But one thing I havenít missed is the rise of pop-punk music and the shape and form the music scene has taken throughout the past decade or so. Which leads me to Warped Tour. An iconic event that has taken place for over ten years now. Starting out as a punk circus and developing into one of the biggest tours across the States every year. When the lineup was announced for this yearís Warped Tour, Iíll admit, I wasnít too impressed. Sure, this year there wasnít the likes of Brokencyde and Millionaires, but there was still a lot of bands that teetered on the edge of being intolerable like those two. But alas, I didnít think I would end up going, so I wasnít too bothered about everything. But then the opportunity arose and I jumped at it, seeing how I needed to experience Warped sometime for myself, reading text and watching videos doesnít do enough justice. This is my first Warped Tour experience and ultimately an unforgettable one.
I would like to think of this Warped Tour as the diamond in the rough tour. You have to sift through a lot of filler bands to really get down to the heart and soul of the tour. Or that is how I felt while I waited outside the gates, patiently standing for the doors to open. Eventually 11am rolled around and the doors opened and kids flew in like a flash flood. I went over to the press tent to get my wrist bands and whatnot and ended up running into a friend I had made from working on AP, Richie Cordaro. He was working the press tent so I got to chat at him for a couple minutes or so and headed off to make my way onto the grounds.
Once on the grounds I could finally relax for a minute after having a 4 hour drive and waiting for an hour on no sleep I was kind of exhausted but still ready for a full day. I made my way through some of the first couple tents like No Sleep Records, which had a bunch of awesome albums and shirts for dirt cheap. Had I brought more money I would of snagged up as much merch as possible from those guys. I made it to the stage grounds and found the times of all the bands and to my surprise The Dillinger Escape Plan had already taken the main stage. Talk about making a run over to catch their set. I bustled my way through kids to catch about half of their set, and I must say, that 15 minutes was all I needed to see. In that 15 minutes the band was all over the stage, jumping off amps throwing things around, kicking their monitors, just using the stage as a battle ground. Few acts can match the intensity and madness of those guys, they are one of the realest bands out there. Talk about having emotion and feeling.
I had a little time to kill so we headed over to the Glamour Kills stage to see The Summer Set perform, but we had got their early so The Cab was playing. Call them a boy band, but they are good at what they do. Alex DeLeon can sing his heart out. They create catchy pop music at itís best. Iím surprised they havenít rocked the airwaves yet. After their set, The Summer Set came on. One of, if not my most anticipated pop bands to play that day. People day Brianís voice is whiney but itís different than everything else out there. I caught the majority of their set, which was tight, everything sounded great and I had to head back to the other stages where I had to make the most difficult decision of the day.
Once I was back to the grounds, I had to choose between 3 bands that have been near and dear to me. I had to choose between Four Year Strong, Every Time I Die and Polar Bear Club. I ended up picking Four Year Strong based on the side of their crowd and the fact that I had recently seen Polar Bear Club at Skatefest. The Worcester boys brought their A-game for the hometown crowd playing a solid mix of the Enemy of The World and Rise or Die Trying. They also played at the peak of the heat, I believe it was hovering around 90 degrees with a smothering amount of humidity on top of that. Boston kids know how to have a good time, especially when itís on of their own. Huge circle pits, tons of crowd surfing, and just good vibes all around. Near the end of their set I had to get out of the circle because I was on the verge of passing out from dehydration. I plowed my way through kids and found a cute girl selling Gatorade. Purchased one and headed back to action as soon as possible. On my travels I caught the last song of ETIDís set, which was simply insane. Made me question if I had made the right choice. I worked my way back to FYSís set and watched as they finished one of the best shows at Warped.
After about dying of heat stroke we went back over to the Glamour Kills stage to catch our hometown boys play, Sparks The Rescue. But before they took the stage, I got to catch Fake Problems which was a pleasant surprise. They put on a completely solid set, just not a lot of kids were really into it, and some were just being down right jerks. But aside from that, they were great. After they finished Sparks came on, repping the 207 the only way they know how to. Out of all the times I have seen Sparks, vocally this was probably their weakest. But it wasnít that bad, just not up to par as usual. On stage though, the guys were insane, high energy and up tempo for their whole set. So glad to see them finally getting the recognition they deserve. I peaced out a little early to head to the press tent to do my interview with The Summer Set. Once I got there I ended up waiting for a bit and interviewed the guys in After Midnight Project and In Fear and Faith, both just awesome down to earth dudes. Finally Brian and Jess got there and I got to interview them as well. Brian is totally humble and easy to talk to and Jess is a sweetheart. If any pop band deserves your love, itís these guys (and girl).
I had some time to kill so I decided to check out some of the tents that were around the grounds. Obviously I hit up the Keep A Breast tent and bought a new wrist band to show my love for what they do. To Write Love On Her Arms were there doing great things as always. Other tents I stopped by were Trojan (yay for free condoms), The Wonka tent, Glamour Kills, and various others. One that stood out all day was the Truth truck. Which was always busy and full of people. They were giving out a bunch of free stuff and information for the people who cared to listen. That was definitely a big hit with a ton of kids throughout the day.
After the interviews and tent searches, we headed back on to the grounds to go catch Emarosa. They played a solid set, Jonny Craig hit the majority of his notes and sounded great. I had heard that he is iffy live, but he pulled it off really well. Here comes my second bone to pick with Lyman or whomever picked set times. I had to choose between The Swellers, Set Your Goals and Motion City Soundtrack. How is anyone supposed to pick between all of these bands? You have a scene staple in MCS, A frontier pop-punk band, and the up and comers. Luckily, I picked Set Your Goals and ended up with the best set of the whole day, 100%, hands down. Everyone in the crowd was amped from the second they started playing ďGaia BleedsĒ and it never faulted. High energy and in your face, just how I like it. I was helping lift kids every two seconds so they could crowd surf, I was running the circle pit, anything and everything I was all over that area. You probably saw me looking like an idiot freaking out, but thatís what music is supposed to do. Make you feel something you canít explain. Set Your Goals reminded me of what pop-punk is supposed to be and the interconnection that it creates within fans, even when they donít know each other. Itís bands like this one that make me realize why I still listen to this music, why it still runs through my veins, and is a part of my every day life. They live to make this music and I live to experience it, and itís that bond which makes everything so powerful and moving. I hope more artists take notes because thatís what you need to thrive in todayís world.
I was completely dead after the SYG set, so I headed back to the Glamour Kills stage, on my way I ended up running into my buddy PJ from Maine, which was also another pleasant surprise. I made my way to the seats and watched VersaEmerge for the third time this year. With every performance Sierra has gotten increasingly better. She dominates the crowd with great front woman skills, reminiscent of the unavoidable comparison, Hayley Williams. Their set was tighter than ever and the new material sounds like itís really in their heads now because they pulled it off amicably.
The last set I ended up seeing was none other than Sum 41. One of my favorite bands growing up that had gotten lost along the threads of time. Well they convinced me to give them a second chance with their short but sweet set. They played basically all of their hits in stellar fashion. It probably helped that there was a high octane crowd as well. But the boys brought it and brought it hard. They even did an awesome cover of The Rolling Stonesí ďPaint it BlackĒ which wasnít something I expected. They closed with ďFat LipĒ which brought me back to my grade school days and reminded me of how much that music shaped who I would be in the future.
In closing, my first Warped Tour experience was one I will never forget. I went into it being a nay-sayer and ended up becoming a believer. When it comes to festivals like this we tend to focus too much on the negative instead of the positives. Sure, there isnít a completely stellar lineup, but then again everyone likes something different and they need to conform to everyone. Focus on what is important to you and you will find something you love. Something that means something to you and makes you realize why music is as important as it is in your life. Warped Tour may not be perfect, but it is a getaway, and thatís fine by me.
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