Saturday: Vans Warped Tour At Sam Houston Race Park

Vans Warped Tour The Showgrounds at Sam Houston Race Park June 25, 2011

Mosh pits and girls in bikinis: they're all in our slideshow of the Vans Warped Tour 2011.

As we made our way into the barren, asphalt-covered desert that was Warped Tour 2011, Aftermath was stopped by a young woman standing just outside the gates.

"If I give you my number, will you text me and let me know when Reliant K is playing?" she asked with an "I know this is an awkward request" kind of smile. "I really only want to see them, and I don't know if I can leave once I go in."

We thought it was something of a strange request, but we agreed, took down her number and made our way inside. For those previously unfamiliar with the tour (such as ourselves), Warped's day-to-day lineup is decided the morning of the event, and changes from city to city. Set times are, more or less, pulled from a hat at random.

For this analogy to work, we should specify that there are two hats: One for the bigger acts and one for the lesser-known acts, so certain bands that got a good slot one day might get a terrible one the next. A bummer, we suppose, but also fair.

True to our word, we texted the young woman Reliant K's set time and took a picture of the gigantic board on which the bands' names and their respective set times were posted, beginning our nine-hour trek around the race park, hoping and praying that our gargantuan breakfast and the gallon or so of water we drank with it would keep us satiated through the festival.

August Burns Red were the first group whose entire set we heard, and it wasn't long before the shenanigans started. During the band's second song, a very young concertgoer began vomiting in the middle of the crowd, we assume from being jostled around in the mosh pit while also (at least nearly) dehydrated. The 5-Star employees on-site promptly and safely removed him, quickly providing him with water and shade as ABR screamed, shredded and drew the crowd into the first real frenzy of the day.

While Aftermath enjoyed ABR's set - as we did A Day to Remember's, for that matter - we don't quite understand the whole metalcore genre. For the time being, the most we can surmise is that their breakdowns are heavy, their riffs are strangely metered, and their vocals are as heavy, if not heavier than the aforementioned breakdowns. All this makes for quite a show, but we haven't gotten past that much.

Yet. We're trying, we promise.

Against Me! drew the largest crowd of the day thus far a few hours later, pulling together a diverse crowd youngsters who discovered the band through 2010's White Crosses, side by side with the old-schoolers who remember when Tom Gabel sang of spineless liberals and (kind of) likened pints of Guinness to energy drinks. Personally, we'll take Gabel's crew however they come.

The Florida-based band is continuing to write quality music and put on good shows, even though Gabel's lyrics aren't as angsty as they once were. Really, they're just growing up, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, we applaud them. They're getting new fans as they make their transition into adulthood, and Aftermath's all for celebrating maturity.

The sleeper hits of the day were Boston's Bad Rabbits, who blended bass-driven punkish rock music with slick guitar riffs and rhythm-and-blues-inspired vocals, creating something we don't think we've ever heard before. On the way out, we bought a copy of their album and have been listening to it ever since.

Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes makes an appearance on the album and, while the band's Facebook page says that they are not currently signed to a label, that kind of cameo can do wonders. We see bright days ahead for the Boston natives, who also brought a few friends onstage to dance with them during their set.

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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever