Vans Warped Tour is unlike any other festival experience. Having a touring festival devoted to punk and hardcore music is something we need in this day of festivals full of pop and hip hop music. I hope the tradition of going out and having one day of rock and sweat, and sometimes rain, will continue for years to come. Warped Tour has eight different stages, with nearly one hundred bands playing over the course of one day. It is a huge event, and tons of people come out for it. While most of the bands are punk or hardcore, some acoustic, pop, DJ, and electronic performances also take place. It is a long day, starting at eleven in the morning and going until about ten at night, but it is an amazing event full of good music, meet and greets, and lots of giveaways. The Warped Tour on July 12th at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ was no exception. Even through a downpour in the afternoon and evening, the energy of the crowd and the bands continued strong all day long.
Letlive. was playing as soon as I walked in the door. They play with such a crazy amount of energy, they sure woke the crowd up with their eleven o’clock set. Their singer, Jason Butler, goes insane, running around the stage, jumping into the crowd, and ripping his shirt off just to name a few of his antics. What is even more impressive is that he is able to sing and scream every word perfectly while doing all of this. The new songs they played sounded great, with the classic Letlive. fast punk parts and the more melodic parts thrown in as well. The highlight of this performance was when Jason was crowd surfing with a fan on top of him and they were screaming the lyrics right into each other’s faces.
I See Stars also woke the crowd up with their set of EHM, or Electronic Hardcore Music. This band has a singer and screamer, which gives them the ability to have very heavy drops and melodic electronic parts. They utilize heavy bass in the metal parts, and the electronic and dubstep parts, which make the stage and your lungs rumble. These dubstep parts were met with a great reaction from the crowd, who bounced and jumped to the music. This set also marked the first “Wall of Death” of the day, with the crowd separating and then running full force into one another and starting a huge mosh pit. No better way to say good morning to Warped Tour.
Defeater was another astonishing live band. Their singer screams the words with precision and heart, and you can tell by his face that he feels every word he says. The guitarists added some backup vocals as well as unique guitar work and added some more madness to the set, such as playing the guitar behind his head. These guys sound very good on record, but even better live, so get out to see them if you have not.
Handguns put on a very powerful set. I had never listened to them until this, and I was very impressed. The pop punk band came out full force and sounded like a straight punk band, as many pop punk bands do live. The singer was very aggressive and joined the crowd to sing along a few songs, after seeing the big crowd responding amazingly. He was singing as hard as he could, and the guitars were playing much faster than on the record. They are a very impressive band to see live and I am glad I caught their set.
Bring Me the Horizon drew a huge crowd in the amphitheater of the Susquehanna Bank Center, and the fans seemed to know almost every word to their songs. Singer Oli Sykes runs from side to side of the stage while screaming his heart out. They played some old favorites, as well as some songs from their new record, which all sounded awesome. Oli’s singing voice is sufficient, and when mixed in with his screams, it sounds awesome. The musicians of the band sounded as tight as they did when I saw them a few years ago, playing all the breakdowns exactly as they sound on the albums.
Citizen is a grungy punk band who puts on a fascinating live set. For fans of Title Fight and Daylight, this band has a straight punk sound with raw vocals and layered guitar that makes it interesting. The singer has a surprisingly good voice in addition to the ability to yell with true feeling. You should definitely check out the first full length album by this band, which just came out recently on Run for Cover Records.
Motion City Soundtrack is always on point live. They played some of their newest hits, and some of their classics, including the popular “Everything is Alright” and “The Future Freaks Me Out.” The keyboard player in this band goes the craziest, screaming all the words even though he doesn’t have a microphone, and pumping the crowd up and encouraging them to sing. They are an amazing pop punk band, and the electronics of a keyboard adds something interesting to the mix. If you have never listened to or seen these guys live, you should do both.
The Chariot absolutely destroyed their set, despite it being outdoors in the rain. A decent size crowd came out if you account for the fact that it was raining pretty hard. They began their set by playing a sample of Johnny Cash’s version of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” and then segued full force right into their first hardcore song. Their live presence is matched by no one, and this band lives for playing shows. The singer and guitarist both came down into the rain soaked crowd to create some hysteria. Frontman Josh Scogin yelled the words with a passion I had never seen in a singer before. The guitarists both went batty on stage, especially Stephen Harrison, who came into the crowd to start a circle pit around himself while he wailed on the guitar. Jordan Buckley, of Every Time I Die, came out and played the end of a song on guitar, while Stephen knelt to scream as hard as he could into the mic. The crowd got soaked, and puddles were forming, but the rain did not stop the energy of the crowd or the band one bit. Unfortunately, I was not able to take pictures of The Chariot because of the weather.
If you are a fan of punk or hardcore music, Vans Warped Tour is something you should experience at least once in your life. The energy and sense of community you feel there is extraordinary, and will leave you wanting to come back to take part in the “Best Day Ever” again and again.