It’s no lie, the Vans Warped Tour is the longest running traveling festival of all time. The punk rock summer camp has been going strong for 15 years now and once again has shown no signs of quitting any time soon. I am sure it is safe to say that Kevin Lyman, the Warped Tour founder, has no intention what so ever of shutting down his vision that has brought bands and fans together yearly all over North America.
The festival for myself has been more or less a ritual over the past 15 years. I have gone with my friends to Warped Tour almost every summer since I was a little 18 year old punk kid without a care in the world. Some of my best memories come from spending hours in intense heat watching bands I love with others who share the same interest. I have written about many of those memories last year so I am not going to repeat myself but I will say that “Eiffel Tower” and “FAFGAD” will always bring a smile to my face when one of my friends happens to bring them up.
Now I will admit that last year I announced my retirement to the Warped Tour. At the time I was serious and felt it right to stop going while I was still having a good time. I stood by my decision and was ok with it. After going to the Warped Tour for 14 years I decided I saw all the bands I could ever want to see and just did not have it in my anymore to continue going.
Well I lied. Sort of…
I just came out of retirement early and it was all because of a little Californian band called Face To Face. The second I found out that they reunited and were playing the 2010 Warped Tour I had no choice but to go again. Can you blame me?
So yes, I am a liar like Henry Rollins. Oh well. I might as well talk about my day at the 15th annual Vans Warped Tour in Cleveland. I will warn you that there may be some shocking material in this post featuring yours truly. So without further adieu…my review.
“I’m getting too old for this sh*t” – Me upon entering the gates of the Tower City Amphitheater.
It was ridiculously hot on Thursday as I got my ticket scanned for entry to the festival. When I say hot I am talking 95 degrees with a heat index of at least 100. The sun was a bastard and just scorched all who got in it’s way. I knew to dress accordingly and to bathe in sunscreen so I had no worries about getting sun burnt but I was pretty damn miserable the moment I set foot into the grounds. I laughed at myself knowing that I might have made a bad choice by coming out of retirement but decided what the hell and chose to make the best of it.
Before I even got started roaming around I wanted to say hello to my cousin who was at the tour as well but not as an attendee. He was working EMT in one of the first aid tents near the entrance. When I greeted him there was a young kid in the tent already with a war wound like none other. Half crying the young music fan was holding a towel to his head and was just covered in blood.
My cousin smiled at me giving indication that he was in for a long day. He called for an ambulance as the kid needed stitches due to a 2 inch gash in his forehead. Apparently the kid was watching metalcore act Confide and fell in the pit – headbutting the ground with his skull. I felt band for the little guy mostly because I knew that not only was his day cut short but I was also pretty sure his parents would never allow him band to the Warped Tour again.
Every Time I Die was already opening the day by the time I arrived to the main stage. I was bummed out to see such a killer act play the early slot but that is one thing Warped has always been known for, no set schedules. In fact one of the reason I missed some of their set was because I had to partake in my little ritual of going to the inflatable schedule and writing down what bands I wanted to see. Closing with “We’rewolf”, the band thanked Cleveland for coming early to see them and was positive that they had set the level for the day. I could not agree more.
I took one, count ’em, one lap around the festival grounds. Why? It was too freaking hot. I just wanted to see if there were any interesting merch booths and maybe take in a band I had not heard of before. I had intentions of spending more time exploring but found myself stopping at the Kia / Kevin Says Stage to see Left Alone.
As they rifled through their set playing songs like “Sad Story” and “I Hate Emo” the kids in the crowd showed their support and early on energy by dancing around as well as forming a circle pit that spun around the soundboard. Lead singer Elvis Cortez enjoyed the insanity but did call out one long haired kid who clearly was moshing like an a-hole. Elvis Cortez was also the only original band member on the stage. What was up with that?
I shook my head in disbelief as I walked past the AP stage and saw apparently a popular Mike Posner on stage swooning hundreds of little girls with his R&B soul music. All I could think of was what in the hell this guy was doing at a punk fest? I did not even give him a moment of my time and headed to the main stage where I would remain for the next few hours.
Before staking ground under the giant shade tent I detoured to the Skullcandy stage where a band called AM Taxi was playing to a very small crowd. The band, who features members of Luck Boys Confusion, put on a good rock show and impressed me with their sound. I will be checking them out more in the near future.
Alkaline Trio took to the main stage under the shade tent that seemingly served no purpose. Even if the sun was blocked it was still 100 degrees under that giant tent with no airflow at all. Even if I was a sweaty mess I still enjoyed AK3’s set including “Cringe”, “Armageddon”, “Dine, Dine My Darling”, “This Addiction”, and also “97”. There was little movement on stage by the band during their set but overall they put on a good show.
New Jersey metal act The Dillinger Escape Plan were without a doubt the most energetic group I’ve witnessed at the Warped Tour for a while now. Lead singer Greg Puciato was all over the stage causing fans to go insane and at one point hopped on top of some stacked amps and leaped without a care. A few songs after, guitarist Jeff Tuttle, who joined singing duties repeated the feat and leap off another stack of amps. It was an insane performance and one of the highlights of my day.
I had many the option to check out other acts while the bands on the main stage while their sets were being broken down and new ones were set up but I was finding myself overheating. I consumed more water than I thought my body could handle so it was nothing to do with hydration. I was just finding myself exhausted to the point where I just was not caring anymore. It was a scary thought as I used to go to Warped Tours with intentions of just pounding beer after beer but in reality I am getting up there in age so I was not completely shocked.
The whole reason I came out of Warped Tour retirement, also known as Face To Face, finally took to the stage to a much smaller crowd than I had anticipated. Trever Keith and company sounded absolutely amazing and played the radio friendly “Disconnected” as well as “Walk The Walk”, and one of my favorites “I’m Trying”. The band announced they were finishing up a new album and even played a cut off of it.
In the middle of their set Trever Keith called out to the huge group of young kids just sitting down under the amphitheater seeking shade who were clearly ignoring his band. He shouted at them “I just want you to know there was music before 2005. You should go ahead and Google it.” The true punk rock fans applauded in approval while the kids – just sat there clueless. It was depressing to see such an influential punk rock band have such a small crowd. Not letting it affect them they played their hearts out to the older Warped Tour crowd.
A few more people seemed to enter the main stage area before the Bouncing Souls were to take the stage but still it was nothing in comparison to previous years performances from bands like NOFX and Bad Religion as well as the kiddie pop punk act Paramore and (cough, cough) 3OH!3. It just seemed as if the people who paid the $40+ for a ticket were more interested in the younger acts playing the smaller stages. Honestly when I thought about it, things were running as designed (bands playing for fans) but I just was hoping for a little more respect for the bands that made the Warped Tour what it is today… The main stage just did not seem to be the focal point of the day.
The East Coast punkers took to the stage with Dillinger Escape Plan’s Jeff Tuttle who ran all over the stage getting the crowd riled up. Greg Attonito took things a step further and jumped down from the stage and started singing songs to the fans at a more personable level from the barricade. Countless kids crowd surfed their way towards Greg Attonito and each time one came close to him he would hold his hand out and pull them closer.
A few songs into their set they brought out UK act The Exposed to the stage with them to play along. Seeing members of other bands hit the stage with them through their just screamed how punk rock they really are. The band sounded great and clearly was happy to be playing to all their fans on summer day. Hearing “The Something Special”, “Lean On Shena”, as well as a handful of other Souls’ songs put a giant smile on my face and at that moment I forgot about the sweltering heat and sang along enjoying every moment. Ending their set with “True Believer” I could not be happier with what I just saw. Long live the Souls.
It was about 5 o’clock and there were could other bands I wanted to check out before Andrew WK was to hit the main stage. I sat there and contemplated which stage I should check out and if a lap around the grounds was in order. Sum 41 was to play as well as All American Rejects and Polar Bear Club in that 2 hour span so I had plenty of options but chose to do something completely different.
I threw in the towel.
That’s right folks, I gave up. As happy I was at the end of the Souls’ set my body was pleading with me to get the hell out of dodge and find some air conditioning. I sat there for at least 10 minutes trying to convince myself that leaving was a good idea. I knew I was going to miss some of these bands and most of all would be missing puke rocker Andrew WK, someone I have admired for years.
I finally grabbed my gear and headed for the exit. As much as I wanted to see Andrew WK, I knew those 2 hours until showtime were going to kill me. It just made sense to head out and hope the puke rocker comes back to Cleveland another day. My few friends who were there were not even bothered by the fact of me bailing, some of them followed my lead.
I do not think I will be returning to the Warped Tour ever again. This is my letter of resignation. It is not because I have issues with the way the festival is running, it’s more or less issues with myself. Feeling like I’ve been caught on fire for an entire day is just not my idea of fun. The kids, on the other hand, love it and I hope they continue to do so for another 15 years.
If by some chance next year has an amazing line up that can not be missed then maybe, just maybe, I will succumb. Until then I am done. I just do not have it in me anymore to do a day long festival on asphalt. I’m still all for festivals and hope to hit Bonnaroo again but as far as the Warped Tour goes, I am out. Fifteen years is good enough for me.
This years line-up was a little weak for me personally because I just had not heard of any of the bands on the roster or had no interest. Again, that is just my opinion because I saw a whole lot of other music fans in their glory. I looked at them and remember the times when I was younger and was just overwhelmed. As for myself I only cared about eight bands total and had no intentions of exploring for more music.
So yeah, this is a half assed review since I bailed and decided to get pizza and go record shopping. Well, that is kind of punk rock if you think about it too right?
So am I getting too old for this sh*t? Not really. Mentally I am with everyone else, physically on the other hand is a different story and I know when my limits have been met. Face it, the Warped Tour is for the kids. I was there once…