Another summer means yet another run of the annual Vans Warped Tour. 75+ bands, 7 stages, & >1000 kids making me feel like an old man at 24. It's been a tradition going five years strong for my friends and I to make the ~2-hour trek to one of the three more or less equidistant cities the tour always stops by around us. This time it was Darien Lake.
It's a phenomena already well written about throughout Punknews and discussed amongst all of us aging punk fans that every year Warped Tour seems to get a little bit worse: The bands aren't as good, the ticket prices seem to keep growing, and spending eight or so hours surrounded by kids in 3OH!3 and Owl City T-shirts just isn't that appealing anymore. Nevertheless, 2010 seemed to have one of the best lineups in recent years and I was very excited to pay $2 for my band schedule/map, circle the bands I wanted to see and make sure I was close enough to the barrier to have Matt Skiba hear me recall "I want to rub your back!"
Unfortunately, setbacks always occur. For one thing, we were late, entirely missing Reel Big Fish. On top of that, as you can always expect to happen at Warped Tour, several of the bands that I wanted to see were playing at the same time as other bands I wanted to see. Sacrifices must be made!
The first act I caught was Andrew W.K. (1:00) on the main stage. While I've read rave reviews of his work, he had never really caught me. The One-Trick Party Pony just isn't my thing. Still, a friend was a fan so I persevered. As a frontman, Andrew is pretty incredible. As soon as the bearded and/or big-haired dudes got on stage and introduced him to the crowd he was on and he never really shut off. Between just about every "party"-centric song he was throwing free crap into the crowd, be it guitar picks, T-shirts, or even his own personalized air fresheners. The set itself was pretty wild and overall enjoyable for a non-fan, but I can't say I've been converted.
Songs I recognized:
- "She Is Beautiful"
- "Party Hard"
Next up on the main stage was Motion City Soundtrack (1:55), who took precedent over Set Your Goals (2:00) who I never actually get to see live due to circumstances such as this. The Motion City set was what you would expect for Warped Tour, almost exclusively singles with the only changes between this year and the three other years I've seen them at Warped being the inclusion of songs from their newest album, My Dinosaur Life, which was actually quite a treat. The band had a substitute guitarist in for Joshua Cain who just had a kid, but that didn't really seem to impact the performance in any way. They walked on stage playing the guitar riff to "Attractive Today" and didn't really relent until they closed with "Everything Is Alright." Typical, but fun.
- Attractive Today
- The Future Freaks Me Out
- My Favorite Accident
- Broken Heart
- A Lifeless Ordinary (Need a Little Help)
- This Is for Real
- Her Words Destroyed My Planet
- Everything Is Alright
After a little walking around we came to one of the second-tier stages and saw Of Mice & Men (2:50), that post-hardcore band that guy from Attack! Attack! started after they kicked him out only to be booted from OM&M too. He must be a real asshole. (A special thank you to the teenagers I work with letting me know what bands are "sick" and "brootal.") The band itself seemed pretty tight, but the new singer sounded pretty bad in a live setting. It could have been the sound guys that mixed his vocals too low, or maybe he just sucks altogether; I wouldn't know unless I saw them again, but that's not all too likely.
That old saying, "things get worse before they get better" is too true. While I didn't have warm feelings for Of Mice & Men, words cannot explain the pure shititude of what a friend dragged me to next on another second-tier stage: Suicide Silence (3:40). Yes, I will admit my bias. I don't care for death metal, or deathcore, or pretty much any style with "death" in the name of the genre. Judging by the lineup of bands, as well as the HUGE crowd (probably second biggest I saw the whole day) I'm pretty alone in feeling that way. Attempting to remain objective, I can say that the band is really very heavy. Their drummer certainly knows how to use double-bass. The singer does sound like that boar on LOST that John Locke killed for his fellow castaways. Outside of that there isn't too much to comment on. One song, to me, bled into another. There were a handful of meaty guys hardcore dancing. They had the least successful circle pit I've ever seen at Warped, somehow beating out Paramore from 2007. I guess circles are beyond Suicide Silence fans. During the last song the band requested a "wall of death." Oh! And some dude traded hits on a joint for cigarettes from some 12-year-old. Memorable indeed.
Things improved slightly but not by much as we headed under the pavilion to see Sum 41. The final chorus had set in on Ace Enders' other solo project's (I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody's Business) closing song--the Early November standard "Ever So Sweet"--before the Casualties (4:15) came on at the other end of the stage. I can't say I had ever been a Casualties fan and that fact hasn't changed since. They definitely played 10+ songs including a cover of "Blitzkrieg Bop" and shortly before the close of their set (and a short diatribe on "real punk") they also requested a "wall of death."
Sum 41 (4:45) took the stage (causing me to miss the Swellers [4:35]) and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't ecstatic. I had never seen them before so it was a great trip of nostalgia. They started out strong with "The Hell Song" and blasted through that right to "We're All to Blame." Deryck seemed intoxicated, looked a bit high, but appeared as if he was legitimately having a blast. They largely ignored the regrettable Underclass Hero, playing only one song from the album, and even included a cover of "Paint it, Black" (which has been done to death, but Sum 41 is a band that can pull it off). Other than that it was pretty much a "greatest hits" set. Despite news on the .org concerning a new Sum 41 album they didn't even mention they were writing or preparing a release. They kept stage banter scant but tactful. The band had an extreme amount of energy and enthusiasm, and one can only hope the seemingly reinvigorated band can rebound from the past five years.
- The Hell Song
- We're All to Blame
- In Too Deep
- Paint it, Black" (the Rolling Stones)
- King of Contradiction
- Still Waiting
- Fat Lip
The largest crowd of the night turned out for hometown heroes Every Time I Die (5:45) on the main stage. As usual, Keith Buckley made for an extremely entertaining frontman, and the rest of the band was just on. They played a fairly varied set, drawing most heavily from Hot Damn! and Gutter Phenomenon. The crowd went wild from the beginning of "No Son of Mine" through the circle pit frenzy of "Bored Stiff" up until the final notes of closer "We'rewolf." While I quite enjoy ETID's albums, nothing compares to their live performance. Their music was meant to be heard coming from huge amps and speakers 20 or 30 feet away with a bunch of sweaty dudes you don't know. They even played a cover of the Nirvana classic "Tourette's," which largely seemed to go above the collective head of the audience. Note: The band claimed they weren't going to steal other bands' gimmicks and ask for a "wall of death," so they requested a "crawl of death," asking fans to get down on all fours and crawl as slowly into each other as possible to "Floater." Ahh, Keith Buckley, that clever rascal.
- No Son of Mine
- The Marvelous Slut
- I've Been Gone a Long Time
- After One Quarter of a Revolution
- The New Black
- Bored Stiff
- Apocalypse Now & Then
- Tourette's (Nirvana)
While I intended to see Four Year Strong (6:10), Alkaline Trio (6:30) was starting on the main stage soon after and loving Alk3 the way I do, I couldn't help but wait around and try to get good floor/ground? positioning. This is what I was easily most excited to see at this year's Warped Tour. Once they got on stage Matt introduced the band and they started right into "Cringe." Their 11-song set was a nice collection spanning most of their career, avoiding songs off of some of the lesser albums (Crimson, Agony & Irony) and playing only two from This Addiction. About halfway through the set they dedicated a song to "making mistakes" and played "Stupid Kid," which I had always heard they hated and avoided playing live. It seems as if they have grown and gotten past their loathing of it. Stage banter was slight, but it seemed like the band was having fun, and the crowd (which shrunk drastically from an hour before) was having a blast too. They stopped playing mid-"This Addiction" to get someone that was injured attention and taken out of the crowd, and then started back in like nothing had happened, a testament to their decency.
- Dine, Dine My Darling
- Stupid Kid
- My Friend Peter
- Blue Carolina
- Two Lips, Two Lungs, One Tongue (Nomeansno)
- Private Eye
- This Addiction
The last band I was psyched about seeing was the Bouncing Souls (7:25) on the main stage, who unfortunately were playing at the same time as Polar Bear Club (7:15). Their set was fun and unorthodox, leaving the stage a few songs in for another punk band they were friends with who had been helping them with tech take the stage to play a song of theirs for more exposure. After playing a handful of scripted songs, the Souls even started taking requests from the enthusiastic crowd, with Bryan even showing his reluctance to play "Kate Is Great." The set wasn't flawless, however. When the band started up "Lamar Vannoy," Greg stumbled on the lyrics and sang the second verse instead of the first and then repeated the second verse for the second go-round, which was a bit disappointing considering how awesome of a song it is. Outside of that, it was standard Souls goodness.
- East Coast Fuck You
- Say Anything
- Private Radio
- Sing Along Forever
- Hopeless Romantic
- Kate Is Great
- Lamar Vannoy
- Lean on Sheena
- Anchors Aweigh
- True Believers
Just before we left a friend of mind wanted to check in on In Fear & Faith (7:50) who was about halfway through their set. After a day of walking by dozens of faceless screamy breakdown-heavy bands it was all sounding the same to me, but the lead singer did slip when climbing back onto the stage from coming down to the crowd and cracked his head open. He actually had to leave the stage while a tech came on to finish up vocal duties, although you wouldn't have been able to tell had you just been listening. Oh, and during their final song they requested a "wall of death."
All in all, a fairly memorable Warped Tour, well worth the $42 I shelled out for my ticket. I've paid nearly as much in the past to see Alkaline Trio play less interesting sets, and I got to see a handful of cool bands (not to mention make fun of some not so cool bands). Here's hoping next year they still have some good bands and maybe if they do they won't all play at the same time. Oh, and more walls of death.