Vans Warped Tour
June 26, 2015
As a general rule, I tend to loathe nostalgia. The past is what it is, and while we shouldn't forget it, there's so much interesting and exciting stuff going on in the world around us that it seems weird to long for it. That's not to say that there aren't things about my past that I don't miss, though. I miss the typical Warped Tour experience. I miss lining up before the gates open, rushing to find the schedule of bands, hopping between stages to catch as much music as possible, buying shirts for bands that most people haven't heard of and drinking a cold Hawaiian Punch on the way home, because everything tastes better when you're dehydrated.
But I grew up, I got a real job with real responsibilities and have had to make sacrifices when it comes to the concerts I consume. There are rules: no mid-week EDM shows; no shows at The Pavilion on a school night; look up set lists in advance so I know if it's OK to skip the encore. Being an adult has made it hard to enjoy the Warped Tour properly, but that doesn't mean that there isn't fun to be had.
When you're a Web Editor, your job is basically to be chained to the Internet all day. When big, breaking news happens — like the Supreme Court making a decision that we'll be telling our kids' kids about — you become extra plugged in. This is when the hard decisions have to be made, because as much as you may want to, one cannot spend all day at the Warped Tour when you're in the media and history is happening.
The solution: have as big an extended lunch hour as you can possibly have.
Neck Deep: Neck Deep has the potential to be huge in the scene if they can live up to the standard they've set with the material they've already released. They've got some of the best, most quotable songs in pop-punk right now, songs that are a joy to sing out loud while trying to fight off heat death. While their mid-day set wasn't packed to the gills, they had a healthy crowd of folks that knew all their words to their songs and were eager to sing along. There's a feeling there that these guys are maybe one strong album away from being able to headline in smaller venues. Ben Barlow isn't going to win any awards for live vocal prowess, but he knows what he's doing onstage. He's engaging and knows when to let the crowd sing, which is an important skill when you're trying to impress the people walking by your stage who've never heard of you. He also did a dive into the crowd, which is pretty ballsy when you've playing in parking lots. All in all, a good showing by a band in a slot to help set the tempo for the rest of the day.
Lee Corey Oswald: I swear to God these guys opened with a cover of Weezer's "Buddy Holly" but now I can't find any evidence of that on the Internet and I'm worried it might have been a fever dream brought on by the sun and a lack of water. "Always Never" sounded great, though.
Candy Hearts: In a right and just world, these guys would be a buzz act everyone was beating down the door to see. Alas, the crowds were elsewhere Friday mid-day, but that didn't stop the band from putting on an enjoyable set. There's something charming about their music, the way it taps into feelings of isolation and awkwardness in a way that is easy to identify with. It's easy to identify with, which makes it easy to root for.
They seemed like they made some fans at the Houston date. While the crowd may not have known the songs before showing up, they danced along more and more as the set went on. Fingers crossed they're back in town before too long.
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Fear Me, King Me. It's always interesting to see how locals fare at shows like this. It's also... cute isn't the right word, but it's close. It's the way family members of the band show up to see them perform, and then they wave, and then the person onstage has to wave, and you learn that behind the brutal-sounding music there are humans who have families who do things like make them wave at them at the Warped Tour.
FMKM fit in quite nicely with the general sound of the Warped Tour. They've heavier than most, downright brutal at times, approachable at others. More importantly, they sounded and carried themselves like a band that was supposed to be on stage at Warped. They sounded tight, and had more than a few people getting in to the music. They're definitely an act to keep an ear out for. As much as I would have liked to have stuck around for PVRIS and the bigger bands hitting the main stages later in the day, history was still going on and work was waiting. But hey, two hours at the Warped Tour is better than whatever it is I normally do for lunch on Fridays.
And secretly I was happy to get out of the sun. Warped Tour is still a young person's game, and nothing makes me feel older than my favorite summer tour. But that's growing up.