A Sunday in July with temperatures approaching the high 90’s, set in a parking lot alongside today’s youth with limited room to walk and move; this year’s Warped Tour was exactly what you remember. The last great line ups for Warped Tour were at least a decade ago, however, and at this juncture the realization is that I was there at the PNC Bank Arts Center stop doing more research and investigation than actually enjoying the festivities.
Being critical is a very easy task and I must state that the entire operation, Stage-hands, sound, stage set ups and placement, vendors, sponsors, and the overall feel of the day was exactly what one has come to expect. The talent throughout the day, on the other hand, is something I guess we have to investigate further because power chords, drop tuning, and low driven bass triggers is just, well, untalented. When you have more pre-programmed effects and loops then what the 4-6 members of the band are actually playing on stage it makes me wonder. The makeup, the black clothing, the insane tattoos, and the horrible lyrics with no creativity is the new “in” for the youth. Young lesbians the ages of 13-19 were an interesting, welcome sight and something I may have to get use to with the polar shift of our nation’s ever evolving youth. On a similar, side note, a Dubstep stage? Does the youth realize that the entire ecstasy scene happened 20 years ago?
What happened to line ups featuring the Get up Kids, Orange 9M, Deftones, Eminem, Glassjaw, Coheed and Cambria, Senses Fail, Every Time I Die, Pennywise, NOFX, The Bouncing Souls, Hed (pe) and Melocolin? Maybe the line-ups have shifted so much because any real known respectful national artist is touring the world in the summer. No knock on acts The Used and Reel Big Fish because I grew up looking up to both bands. The Used just came off of a long, grueling, non-stop world tour and I give those road dogs all the credit in the world.
We Came as Romans, Attila, Chariot, Woe, Is Me and local metalcore young shredders Premonitions were bands I was slightly familiar with that were impressive. Pop punk lifers, The Wonder Years, had the entire crowd singing in unity together. Woe, Is Me came out in traditional fashion the same way they came out a couple years back when I saw them. The mix of metalcore, deep screaming, and high end catching tunes is pleasing at times. Chariot or Cha Riot absolutely exploded their stage and random stragglers were immediately mesmerized by their power, intensity, and showmanship. Chariot is the real deal. I hadn’t seen a band ignite, combust, and destroy that quickly, that thoroughly, that quickly into a set besides the ultimate NJ boys Dillinger Escape Plan.
The highlight of my day was meeting Jordan from Every Time I Die. If you haven’t checked out his artwork please do, the guy is awesome. Grabbed a pic with him and an extra small tank top for my better half that she absolutely loved. It must be great when you’re off from touring the world with an amazing, ground shattered hard core band to have a pop up shop and travel through the selected Warped Tour dates that you want.
Another excellent highlight was watching a couple people in wheelchairs crowd surf over the barrier. With the heat as bad as it was and with the humidity soaking the air, people were falling out left and right. It’s a good thing that operationally, Warped Tour and Live Nation do not mess around in the slightest. Watch Warped Roadies on Fuse and see exactly how grueling and hard that life is. You wouldn’t last two days.
I can’t knock Warped Tour too much because they are giving exactly what their audience demographic wants and the operation they represent is top notch. Let’s shift the blame to parents, society, and the instant gratification cycle the world has generated. What happened to good old rock and roll and representing something you truly believe in rather than a record label creating a group of 16-22 year olds to sell something? Call me old, call me out of date, call me a whatever you want but I stand by my observation and my musical resume. If I see one more metalcore, synchronized, movement group with a low end trigger with members switching in and out of bands from Atlanta, Detroit, New York or Los Angeles I may lose my sanity and my changing hope for original musical creation.
I noticed a long, long time ago while traveling through England and Ireland around the age of 11 that the best festivals, venues, hospitality, and scenes are nowhere near the United States. National bands play their best markets and get the hell out of the states for the summer. Getting a copy of Kerrang! as a youth and trading punk, hardcore, metal, and hard rock cassette tapes as a youngster was the best lesson in and out of this shark infested industry.