by Tyler O’Neil
Ah the smell of the season is in the air… if that smell is sunscreen, concession food, cigarettes, and blacktop. The season I’m talking about is Warped Tour and for me it’s a holiday in itself.
Each summer since the mid-1990’s, founder Kevin Lyman has blessed us with an outdoor, summer festival that serves as a haven for fans of punk, metal, ska, and hip hop. Without further ado I’d like to share some of my stand out moments in no particular order:
Dawning matching Hawaiian shirts the band’s aesthetic was one of being on a vacation (with a twist). The twist comes in the form of winter themes at the same time. A man dressed as Santa Claus came out at one point and even the backdrops on stage feature the text “Who Cares?” covered in snow. A lot of bands on the tour seem to take their set design very seriously but the pop punk/melodic hardcore group, Four Year Strong, are just having fun with it. Nevertheless, everyone was crowd surfing, singing along, moshing, and air-guitaring like crazy.
2. Knuckle Puck
The Illinois-based band, Knuckle Puck, drew one of the biggest and most energetic crowds for a stage that wasn’t the main stage. Copacetic was the latest album released from the 5-piece almost a year ago and has accelerated the growth of the fanbase. Lines such as “I’ll leave you in the dark with a broken flashlight” surely do resonate when they are sung by so many people at one time. On top of that, the older songs had just as much participation from the audience. Maybe we’ll find Knuckle Puck playing the main stage next year..
Too Close To Touch is a band I give credit for being a bit different than the stereotypical band on the festival lineup. Vocalist Keaton Pierce at times would survey the audience to see who in the giant amphitheater – where people often relax in the shade – actually heard of them before. Signed to Epitaph Records, I would recommend listening to them if you’re a fan of Emarosa or Hands Like Houses because you will 100% like them. Mark my words. The setlist consisted of tracks from their debut full length Nerve Endings and was solid front to back.
The last song played was the title track from the album and I remember fans screaming at the top of their lungs when it was announced from Pierce that they were about to play it. Keep Too Close To Touch on your radar.
ETID is a band that makes you go “hell yeah!” or “what is happening?” but both sentiments mean “wow.” Aside from being one of my favorite bands, the Buffalo act is definitely Warped Tour veterans with it being their 7th time playing the festival. They know what they’re doing. Their songs are a wall of sound and a total mind-melting experience of awesome. Vocalist Keith Buckley stated that the set in Connecticut was one of the best they’ve ever played. Guitarist Jordan Buckley even climbed the speakers and then at the end of the set, crowd-surfed all the way to the band’s merch table – guitar still in hand.
One word to summarize Reel Big Fish? Goofy. These guys are Warped Tour veterans as well and do their best to entertain the most debbie of downers out in the sea of people watching. With “Everyone Else Is an Asshole,” “Another F.U. Song,” and joking covers of Nirvana and Lit you can’t help but be in a better mood. Oh and of course they played their hit from the 90’s “Sell Out”
The last band I’m going to mention is the band Issues based in Atlanta, Georgia. With the rise of Pokémon Go in the last week it was perfect timing that the group began their set with a cover of the Pokémon theme song. The wildest moment occurred during the song “Blue Wall” in which they had a wall of death during the bridge of the song.
For all of you not aware of what a wall of death is, it’s a giant mosh pit where two sides of a crowd split down the middle and then run at each other. Issues is another one of those bands that are on the rise. Both full lengths out by the band have cracked Billboard Top 20. They have surely become professional performers over the last couple of years and it has been fun to watch their growth.
Other Honorable Mentions this year: The Maine, Roam, Volumes, Yellowcard
Warped Tour is different for everybody because music is subjective and everyone has a different taste in what they like but I think if you give the festival a chance you’ll find something you like for certain. As I mentioned, Warped Tour is like holiday for me.
It’s special because everyone has a good time in unison with one another and there’s not many places like that on this earth.
For the remaining Warped Tour dates, tickets, info, etc. check here