Turn away, jaded music fan. It's that time of year again, when kids not old enough to drink head to the hot concrete of NRG Park for a day of bands you've probably never heard of but have more Facebook likes than you can fathom. You were those kids once, but you've grown old, you probably have a day job and you went to FPSF this year, so you really don't need another afternoon on the concrete. Save your cynicism for something that truly deserves it, if you have any left from Houston Beer Fest.
This year the Warped Tour turns 21, which is crazy if you ever went to one back in the late '90s or early '00s. How has it survived this long? Because the formula works. Keep the prices low, pack in a ton of bands that are popular but not quite stars and give the fans the chance to meet their heroes and the crowds will show up, no matter how hot it gets in Texas in the middle of summer. Still, maybe you're not entirely sure how to fill your day at Warped. With 70-plus bands on the bill, you can't be expected to know everyone. And that's OK. Here are our top picks for the fest this year, including some locals you should get to know.
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Fear and Wonder
One of the locals playing the Houston tour stop this year, Fear and Wonder are a damn fine post-hardcore band. “My Voice” is an example of what the genre is like at its best. Go jump with them.
I've ruined my iTunes play count numbers by listening to these guys too much in my car, so when I say that I think they're the best pop-punk band on the planet right now, understand that I'm not being hyperbolic.
We Came As Romans
These guys have been on the scene for a while now, but it's worth mentioning that “The World I Used to Know” is one of the best rock singles of the year. Plus, they scratch that itch that you're sure to have waiting on the next Bring Me the Horizon tour.
“I'm a Natural Blue” is such a good song that I feel bad for never writing about these guys before. According to their Facebook page, these Houston pop-punkers would like you to bring them fruit rollups and get weird. So do that.
I respect anyone who would go out to the hot summer sun and play as song as emo-sad as “The Night I Drove Alone” and have it work. Learn the songs real quick and go scream them out.
If there's going to be a breakout band of this year's Warped Tour, it's going to be Pvris. They've got the songs and the look. You'll hear them compared to Paramore a lot, but they're darker and more interesting and Paramore doesn't have an album as good as White Noise to their name.
Le Castle Vania
The Beatport stage is back this year, which is excellent news for those who occasionally want a break from all the guitars and double bass. Le Castle Vania make electronic songs with a punk spirit, including the truly wonderful “Raise the Dead.” He also had some (pardon the pun) wicked tracks in John Wick.
Lee Corey Oswald
You like fuzzy indie rock? You going to love these dudes, even if they don't know how to spell Cory correctly.
Odds are good I don't have to sell you on Silverstein, so let's all agree to go sing “Smile in Your Sleep” at the top of our lungs, OK?
Fear Me, King Me
More heavy bands should do the dual male/female vocalist thing. It breaks up the monotony of being yelled at by angry dudes with weird haircuts. This South Houston metalcore group know what's up, with their vocalist Angelica helping to make promising group stand out.
Candy Hearts write some of the finest pop-rock songs around, and their 2014 release All The Ways That You Let Me Down is one of those albums you probably missed but should definitely check out. Then dig into their catalogue further; “Ticklish” is one of the best pop-rock songs of the last five years.
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Sgt. Corrin Campbell
Did you know that the Army – yeah, the one with the guns – has a musical outreach program? Sgt. Campbell is an active-duty soldier and a musician, one whose songs are pure Warped Tour. Weird, but neat. She also sang "God Bless America" before an Astros game recently.
The members of Rosenberg duo are 15 and 14 respectively, which I think is more than enough reason to support their appearance at Warped 2015. Most kids their age are on the other side of the barrier. Plus, they play a mean version of “Crazy Train.”
The 2015 Vans Warped Tour Presented by Journeys pulls into NRG Park's Yellow Lot (where FPSF was) Friday at 11 a.m.