Fans, Bands, Sun, Fun, Rain, Pain
The title just about sums up the experience. Despite the fact that Warped Tour has been going on for twenty years, this was my first time attending. The lineup had a few acts I wanted to see, and I was happy to see some other bands as well.
The fans: Despite the tour being over twenty years old, most of the crowd ranges between 15-25 years old. I brought along my daughter and nephew, both in their early teens, and they fit right in. The good thing about being young at a summer festival in Florida is that the heat doesn’t seem to bother them so much, and they have plenty of energy to interact with the bands on stage, as well.
The bad part about these young people is that many neither know how to carry crowd surfers along, or to crowd surf themselves. As a result, I saw many young people hit the ground. Vans Warped Tour has signs posted at each stage discouraging such behavior, and even moshing, but I think that’s just to prevent liability for injuries incurred during such youthful frivolity.
The bands: We saw Ghost Town first. They almost seem like a Disney Channel writer’s vision of what an alternative band would be like. The crowd responded well to them, jumping up and down, many of them singing along. Afterwards, we made our way to the Monster energy stage north to catch Motionless in White, but with the south stage almost touching, we caught most of Chelsea Grins’ set. Their sound was much heavier, more to my liking, and the young people responded to them with the first moshing I had seen of the day. After they finished, Motionless in White started.
If Warped Tour does anything well, it is the seamless transition from band to band. Motionless in White is like the spawn of Marilyn Manson. Same look, slightly harder sound, very good. Front man, Chris “Motionless” Cerulli held up a rainbow flag loaned to them by another group and acknowledged the recent tragedy in Orlando and praised the audience for coming out despite what could happen.
The crowd responded by doing some serious moshing while MIW played new material like “570”, as well as old favorites like “Abigail”. They also mentioned what troopers we were, braving the midday heat to see them. I wondered how they could stand it, being from Pennsylvania and dressed head to toe in long sleeved black clothes. Keyboardist Josh Balz even had a hood on! Had to give props to these PA rockers for keeping the crowd going despite the intense heat.
After MIW was over, we made our way to the Journeys’ twin stages to see Sleeping with Sirens, and with a similar set up as the Monster stages was delighted to hear Pepper performing. I’m not really into reggae much, but I do enjoy their songs “Give it Up” and “No Control”. The Hawaiian natives, whom I had seen once with Sublime ( http://rarasfarm.com/2015/a-sublime-evening-in-tampa/ ), also commented about the heat, comparing it with the warm climate of their home islands.
I knew that Sleeping with Sirens was going to be among the most popular group there, which is why we had went to the stage they were slotted to play extra early. About forty minutes early, which landed us in the middle of the crowd that swelled behind us and surged forward as Kellin Quinn and his bandmates appeared from behind their “We Like It FXCKIN LOUD” banner.
The quintet, originally from Orlando, encouraged the audience to live their lives to the fullest with songs like “Do It Now, Remember It Later”, told us that our lives were important and to take nothing for granted before launching into “Better Off Dead”, and sensing that nasty weather was approaching, Kellin thanked everyone for getting-him-out-of-the-tour-bus-because-we-made-his-the-greatest-job-in-the-world, and the band played their hit “If You Can’t Hang”.
The rain: Hang we did, in spite of the rain that began to fall. The audience, incensed by their favorite band playing their favorite son began crowd surfing in earnest. Wave after wave of human bodies rolled across the unfriendly seas of hands who could barely float them. There were many shipwrecks, but most brushed it off before resuming their tumultuous journey towards the stage.
Jamee Snyder, my daughter, hatched a brilliant plan to meet the band while chaos ensued all around her. At Tinker Field, where the event took place, there is no such thing as a backstage. There is no magical portal through which the bands can escape to their tour buses to flee legions of adoring fans. Jamee thought to capitalize on this and led us to where she knew they would have to pass on their way to the security-guarded-sanctuary of their homes-on-wheels.
We went to the spot where she hoped to get a picture, but instead ended up with the photogenic front man’s sweat-soaked, logo-emblazoned towel! Some people might find that gross, but to others, that is the coolest thing ever.
Next on the agenda was getting cooled off. We found some ice cold beverages and took bathroom breaks before heading back to the Journeys stage to see Falling in Reverse. On the way, we caught some of Reel Big Fish’s set, including “Take on Me”. It never crossed my mind while hearing this on the radio exactly how many pieces were needed to create this sound. It turns out, to my surprise, that the group actually has six active members! I can only imagine what life on that tour bus must be like!
Our patience was rewarded. As Reel Big Fish ended their set, the ska fans cleared out, leaving plenty of room for Falling in Reverse’s followers. We ended up near the middle, closer to the front than we had been all day, but with forty minutes to go. Next stage over was a band called The Maine, and we listened to them whilst conversing with like-minded concert-goers. There were a lot of cool people at Warped Tour.
The Maine went off, and Falling in Reverse took their places on stage. Our spot, which previously had been spacious enough to sit, suddenly became uncomfortably confined. Personal space became a distant memory as we were pressed in between sweaty fans trying to get as close to the band as was humanly possible. Everyone was sweaty and dirty, and we became every germophobe’s worst nightmare. Luckily my companions weren’t so hung up on it.
See more photos of the band here: Falling In Reverse
One song in, and singer Ronnie Radke had everyone sitting on the lawn so he could post a photo before launching into “Bad Girls Club’, which had everybody back on their feet again, bouncing like rubber balls. Crowd surfers abounded, coming through like breakers at the beach, many of them taking nasty spills thanks to the inexperience of their fellow attendees.
The boys from Vegas pumped out hit after hit, “I’m not a Vampire”, “The Drug In Me Is You”, and others. Time and again people fell, were kicked in the face, and otherwise beaten as the crowd tried to surf, jump, bang their heads, and mosh to the fast-paced songs. It was great, but also a workout.
Next on the agenda was From Ashes to New. I missed them while at Welcome to Rockville, and there was no way I was missing them again. We ended up in the front row, which made me happy. A group called Volumes was playing while we waited for the Pennsylvanian group. From Ashes to New played a good set. Their sound is very much like Linkin Park, and they even have two very talented singers, but noticeably absent, at least to me, was the lack of a bassist. Not having one did not seem to affect their sound, however, and their two axe men and awesome drummer rounded out their sound perfectly.
They interacted with the crowd, encouraging them to sing along, and vocalist Matt Brandyberry stepped atop the barricade to give everyone within reach a high five, then took a short cell phone video of the crowd. Very fun group.
The pain: The last band we saw was Crown the Empire. I don’t know their music, and could not pay attention to the stage, because of the big mosh pit that formed around us. We all received very minor injuries, none of which required hospitalization. We were sore, sunburnt, and our voices hoarse from screaming. But as we walked to where we parked, we all reflected on the fun we’d had. Vans Warped Tour was excellent. I hope I get the chance to go next year.
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