Another year has arrived for the Vans Warped Tour full of anticipation and excitement to hit the summertime across North America. This year’s edition maintains their tradition of youth oriented angst filled music (or whatever the kids call it these days) and carving a path for the next batch of rising stars on the scene. Thanks to photographer Kevin Estrada for shooting these two dates of Warped tour for Ghost Cult!
The main stages (Shark and Unicorn) showcased the main attractions on the tour, ranging from the pop punk acts (The Wonder Years) to the screamo/emo (Pierce The Veil, Blessthefall) to the crossover half melodic and half aggro (We Came As Romans) to the harder sounding (August Burns Red) managed to keep the kids bouncing around in the crowd and rarely laying low.
Tour veterans Motion City Soundtrack made their brief California run appearance, showing the crowd how things are done on this tour. Metro Station (featuring Trace Cyrus, son of country performer Billy Ray Cyrus), melodic punk act Man Overboard, and hardcore outfit Fit For A King all set the pace for the day with their respective sounds while keeping the crowd engaged.
The main acts on these stages won over the crowd throughout the day. Memphis May Fire got the crowd into a high with their half heavy yet melodic styling that struck a nerve with them; Attila, led by their enigmatic frontman Chris “Fronz” Fronzak and his guitar crunching yet Eninem-esque “meth” suit bouncing along with the crowd; Black Veil Brides and their legions of die hard fan base singing along to every word; and Miss May I and their modern metallic sound that got the crowd worked up later on in the day.
While the main stage had their moments going on, there were a number of side stage acts making noise of their own. The Monster Stage housed their own brand of chaos throughout the day, as Senses Fail, Being As An Ocean, Beartooth, Mallory Knox and The Amity Affliction all got the pit crew throwing down alongside each band and rarely letting down. The harder driving acts such as hardcore outfit Hundredth had the pit kids going in effect, while veteran Canadian post hardcore act Silverstein had their mix of longtime fans as well as newbies who both showed their appreciation for the band. Australian metallic hardcore outfit I Killed The Prom Queen appeared to be bass player less, but that didn’t stop them from bringing out their At The Gates meets hardcore stomp to these fans. British metalcore act While She Sleeps briefly were down a singer (ie visa problems kept frontman Lawrence Taylor making a late start on the tour) but friends pitched in to lend a helping hand and fans didn’t even notice. Plus Escape The Fate closed out the evening with their eclectic brand of punk meets screamo meets modern metal that got the late comers their last bit of a sweat.
On the other stages, indie hip hop acts MC Lars gave a lesson in nerdcore with rhymes about video games and Game of Thrones (ie his latest single “Dragon Blood), while Kosha Dillz brought out his East Coast blend of Spanish, English and Hebrew rhymes; and electro-DJ-performance duo mystery men Drama Club put on an interesting performance that combined part Blue Man Group-esque percussive moments with part electronica meets EDM moments and spontaneous bursts of energy that kept the interested crowd on its feet.
The Journeys Stages found Juliette Sims and Night Riots wowing the crowd with their high energy sets, while hotly tipped electro pop outfit PVRIS became one of the much talked about acts on the tour and their set did not disappoint. Hip hop act Riff Raff put on quite the entertaining show on this stage, with his colorful summertime dress and animated raps to get the crowd bouncing along.
New York alternative rockers The Karma Killers stood out amongst the vast number of acts performing on the Ernie Ball Stage, with their fresh take on classic pop-punk, rock, and alternative rock with an energetic stage show. While they are newly signed to Island/Def Jam and new to the scene, they showed that they could one day end up on one of the larger stages in the new future.
The Acoustic Basement easily became an area largely for shade against the sun, but while most of the acts attracted stragglers throughout the day, Canadian singer-songwriter Saywecanfly and Brian Marquis were two of the acts who attracted a decent sized crowd throughout the day. Saywecanfly attracted a packed tent and entertained the audience with his emotion filled lyrics that got his largely female audience awaiting with anticipation.
Overall, this year’s edition featured a good mix of repeat acts moving up to larger stages, as well as a number of fresh faces to the scene. It is a positive sign to see new acts on the rise at a time when the music industry is struggling to attract new acts to the public. Hopefully someone is paying attention to this tour to see that there is a new generation of artists on the rise.
WORDS BY REI NISHIMOTO
PHOTOS BY KEVIN ESTRADA