Is it a strange thing for a 46-year old woman to look forward to Warped Tour every year? After all, not only has the event metamorphosed into a barely-recognizable form of its former self, but I am beginning to be mistaken for a Parental Day Care attendee (yes, I said “beginning” – I have good genes, okay?)
Nevertheless, despite the fact that the tour will likely never live up to my introduction to it seven years ago with the stellar punk lineup of The Bouncing Souls, Gallows, Streetlight Manifesto, Bad Religion, NOFX, Less Than Jake, Flogging Molly and Big D and the Kids Table, I do consider it an earmark to my summer. After all, what could be better than sunshine, little clothing, the discovery of new bands up close and personal and overpriced fried shit?
To that end, I made it my mission to (with the one and only exception of Every Time I Die, who is not ever to be missed and who were to be the focal point of my visit,) skip the structure and wander about the grounds (much easier to do this year with the change in venue,) stopping to observe any stage which caught my eye.
This year, the first group to do so was Charetta, a Manhattan-based, female-fronted, metal-infused outfit who actually didn’t look like they were born yesterday. The powerful vocals of Angelina DelCarmen alongside the dual shred of guitarists Pablo LaFrossia and Chris Fullam, with bassist Rich Mollo and drummer Adonis Sanchez rounding out the percussion, were a lively standout. With this being their only stop on the tour, the band needed to give this performance all that they had, and they didn’t disappoint. If Charetta is playing at a theater near you, you should really check them out, they’re a good time.
After conducting an enlightening interview with the interminable Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die (transcript to follow shortly – the sound quality isn’t amazing, as it almost never is at Warped, even in a press room, but you can view the video here,) [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vz1AcUaOMoI&list=UUtIvJMmIkCZe807ZNgz6hqg[/youtube] I took five for a brewski in a comfy chair and chatted with a lovely, tattooed Canadian grandmother in a Slipknot shirt, there with her Japanese grandson. We both admired the dulcet tones of Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! as we sat, and giggled at the panda enjoying their set sidestage. While awaiting for ETID’s set to begin, I was lucky enough to stumble upon Brooklyn residents Hunter Valentine on the Shiragirl Stage. Those of you who followed Showtime’s “The Real L Word” will remember the band from their appearances on the show.
Not having actually had the opportunity to see the band play a full set before, it was pretty cool to watch them fly. This Toronto-bred, all-female band possesses a ton of positive energy to go with their rough-and-tumble punk sound. Currently on their junior release, the band gathered a respectable crowd, replete with tiny female admirers, as any rock band worth their salt should attract. Frontperson Kiyomi McCloskey played up to the crowd by strolling through it and borrowing a fan’s sunglasses and trading barbs with founding drummer Laura Petracca, while newer members Aimee Bessada and Veronica Sanchez managed the string section effortlessly. Their set actually felt much too short to me – I would highly recommend catching them on a headliner the next time one rolls around in Hipsterville.
Everyone knows that you absolutely do not miss an Every Time I Die performance. The first time I ever saw this band play, they were opening for Underoath, who at the time had a very strong live reputation – and ETID blew them off the stage. They’re also extremely fun to photograph, as evidenced by the eighty-some-odd pictures that I wound up with of them.
This band could blow the ceiling off the Sistine Chapel. Their sidestage at Monster was such a hotspot that security had to close it down. Both classics and new jams from their freshly released “From Parts Unknown” were met with unerring enthusiasm by the massive crowd (who lead pipe Keith Buckley earnestly thanked for making the trek over,) and joined his guitarist brother Jordan in surging into the crowd. Returning bassist Stephen Micciche took a turn as well, patiently snapping photos with wide-eyed fans in the pit as the set drew to a close, Second guitarist Andy Williams was a whirring dervish as drummer Ryan “Legs” Leger pounded the skins for all he was worth. ETID ended their set to an enthusiastic chant of “Buckleys!” as the crowd quickly dispersed for greener pastures.
On the way to sweat out one last bathroom journey and a phone charge before concluding the afternoon, I stumbled directly into Heart To Heart’s set on the Hard Rock Kevin Says Stage. Fucking wow, is all I can say. I was literally unable to continue my journey to the big empty arena, so captivating was the blood-and-guts performance headed up by Nick Zoppo and backed full blast by second vocalist and guitarist Taylor Stillwell, bassist Justin Bratcher and drummer Blaze Blanke. You couldn’t take your eyes off them, and although it was clear that their hardcore fans, who knew every word, were a bit outnumbered by the junior high school set, who clearly didn’t, the crowd grew larger and more appreciative with every song. They were a tornado, and I feel lucky to have caught these California native hardcorers in such a laid-back setting.
The band released their latest effort, “Dulce” last month to respectable reviews – I know I’m going to be checking it out.
Feel free to peruse the photoset (presuming you can find any that aren’t of ETID,) as I gear up for another week and a half of punk shows.
Warped Tour may have lost a lot of its original aesthetic, but the main point, which is to discover new music in an unpretentious setting, lives on.