I’ve been following this festival for six years now. I still don’t think that I will ever see a year top the first (the last truly punk lineup that the tour featured,) but it’s a nice day out in the summertime; an excuse to run around almost naked all day and watch some cool bands jam while people toss you about.
With any festival, no matter how long it’s been running, there are going to be issues which never seem to get resolved: artists who fail to turn up, random set adjustments, weather shutdowns, fights, dirt, sweat on your clothes which doesn’t belong to you, etc.
I know my way around the Coliseum well enough by now, but this year, security refused to allow us to take our usual route to the press tent. As luck would have it, the person that I wound up asking for alternate directions turned out to be Kevin Lyman. Whether or not this was a positive or negative omen remains to be seen.
With two hours to kill and our mission of bringing vegan-friendly noshes to our trooper of a friend holding down the fort in the Action For Animals booth (Long Island has been very slow in warming up to offering such dalliances, it’s true, but I was surprised to learn that a tour whose program features a prominent vegetarian article every year has yet to make the concession) Justine and I parked ourselves on the grass to await our interview subjects, both of whom would spectacularly fail to turn up (I would also like to take issue with this recent “pre-approval only” situation that has cropped up like a mushroom patch. It’s Warped – isn’t the entire point to make yourself more accessible? Not that anyone received their press approvals in nearly enough time to line up such a thing with multiple bands’ busy publicity agents, but I digress…)
The first set of the day was Motion City Soundtrack, a band that I was really looking forward to catching live as my son just raves about them. As we approached the Kia Forte Stage, I heard strains of “LG Faud” and, already late, we hurried over as quickly as we could. We missed photo pit, but were able to get off a few decent shots from the crowd. The band sounded flawless and I was impressed with the amount of huge guys surfing as they sung along to their set. I sang along too, grateful to Damie for teaching me the lyrics to their more well-known jams. I was a bit disappointed to note that Justin wasn’t quite as awkward as Damie had promised me, though. He seemed pretty confident up there, and deservedly so. It was a nice way to start the day, and we got to continue it with a live chat, with the very sweet bassist Matt Taylor and new drummer Claudio Rivera (to be posted shortly).
Next up was Story of the Year (formerly known as Big Blue Monkey,) who I think I’ve been trying to catch live for about six years, so I was super excited for their set. We actually made it to the press pit in time for their third song, “The Antidote,” but were stopped short at the entrance to the Tilly Stage by a female security guard who refused to explain her denial even as we flashed her our wrists. In fact, she behaved rather like a schoolyard goon, mimicking me “Why? Why?” in a whiny voice. I backed all the way into the pit where my friends Jen and Ashley were and they asked me what happened, so I explained that we were banned from taking photos.
Overhearing this, she ordered me completely out of the pit. When I wouldn’t go, she began – I am not even exaggerating – pushing her chest up against mine as if we were about to wrestle. When her manager rushed over, she pinned the aggressive behavior on me. Now, everyone that knows me knows that I don’t back down from fights, but they also know that I try not to mess with security. As this woman’s coworker regarded me with what appeared to be veiled sympathy , their manager, attempting to minimize damage, let me off the hook with a warning – how nice of him. Everyone else that we dealt with that day was super nice though.
When I was finally able to actually enjoy SOTY’s set, they looked and sounded great – Dan completely engaging the crowd the entire time. Having only gotten a few songs in, I would really love to catch them on one of their own gigs, if they ever play here again – hopefully sans the Neanderthal security detail. The crowd was mad into it, screaming along at a deafening level. I feel badly that they wound up on the shitty stage and got shafted on their review – I owe you guys one!
Justine and I decided to eat the sandwiches that we’d bought (yes, you can sneak food in, you just have to hide it well) and glom some free water off Amanda while waiting for The Used’s set to begin. This time, we made sure to arrive at the photo pit early. Luckily, the Kia Forte security detail was much friendlier and let everyone in during setup, which is how it’s normally done.
The Used’s stage inexplicably filled with colorfully ski-masked people who faced us silently for a couple of minutes. Then the band extricated itself one by one and began their set with their masks still on. Odd, but they were killing it. Bert made full use of the catwalk constructed out of monitors and plastic, revealing a red fauxhawk as the masks were tossed aside. It was a short but sweet set, packed with singalong classics and one single from their killer new EP, “Ocean of the Sky.” By the time they had wrapped up, the entire crowd was buzzing with the exciting news that the band will play this year’s Taste of Chaos. They tossed a bunch of prizes into the air and left to raucous cheers. They fucking killed it; it was definitely a triumphant return to the festival for them.
We caught a few songs by Beebs and Her Moneymakers, who we had seen by the press tent earlier. They’re a jazz-infused funk band – quite a departure for Warped, but they sure are interesting.
Justine really wanted to crowdsurf for Bring Me The Horizon – a band that I have a hot and cold relationship with. She threw her stuff at me and dove into the pit, never to be seen or heard from again (seriously, if you find her, will you please let her know that the show wrapped up a week ago? Thanks.) I actually found Oli (who doesn’t have the greatest reputation) rather charming. The band knows their way around a Warped stage for sure, and the crowd ate up everything they did. The songs were actually pretty catchy, and I was overall pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed their set.
By the end of that, I too was dying to surf. On a whim, Justine dragged me into the Blessthefall pit (I gaped at her – Blessthefall, really? “I loved them when I was 12!” she maintained helpfully.) Their set was better than I remembered it being at Taste of Chaos in 2008, and the crowd contained plenty of dudes large enough to toss chicks onto their shoulders upon request, so about halfway through after a friendly exchange with a dude who apologized profusely for trodding on my sandal-clad feet, I figured I was in and asked him to push me up. I was coasting well enough for a few rows before someone just sent me sailing over the crowd and directly into the arms of security, who chuckled “Whoa!” as he set me gently back down on the ground as the front row scrambled to hand me back my dropped phone. It was pretty rad, not gonna lie.
We had also seen the band Crossfaith posing for photos in the press tent, and J was curious about them because she had a friend who never shut up about them. I have to be honest, they were the performance of the night. Relegated to the Ernie Ball Stage, which is practically outside the event, this band tore shit the fuck up. They had a circle pit going and everything. I was totally bummed that we weren’t able to get any closer. I highly recommend seeing them if they come to your town. Here is their setlist. As we watched, the big floppy hat that J and I had spotted before us turned and we were greeted enthusiastically greeted by my other friend Jen. We traded pleasantries about the band we were watching and snapped a photo before she headed home. We went to grab Amanda, pack up and do the same as Crossfaith ended their set triumphantly.
We wound up consuming an entire box of spaghetti as Amanda told us all about life as a Warped Tour retailer (the sucky part, she said, is the lack of water pressure in the showers, adequate sleep or nutrition, and the inability to leave the tent, but the good part is finding opportunities to befriend others working behind the scenes or sometimes, the artist themselves.)
Overall, a good day even if I am supposedly way too long in the tooth to have any right to enjoy such a thing.