When you live in Florida, Warped Tour brings one thing to mind when the summer rolls around – it’s hot. It’s really hot. And for me, it’s burning hot. So I slathered myself in a solid twelve layers of sunscreen and set out to Tinker Field in Orlando on July 2nd to be reunited with my Warped Tour family. That’s the thing if you’ve never been to Warped, it really is one of the tightest knit festivals you can experience. From band members popping around the grounds meeting and greeting fans, the Think TEI workshops that range from music lessons to life advice chats, and the plethora of vendors stationed all around, there is always something to do, someone to talk to. In fact, there is just no way in one day you can experience everything Warped Tour has to offer.
Seven stages are erected for the festival, with the times guide (which changes daily) posted on a giant inflatable schedule in the middle of everything. You’ll want to get to the schedule (or buy a printed one for $2) first thing to plan ahead for your day. Since the schedule changes daily you never know which band will play first (or last) and which bands are going to cross over set times leaving you with the dreaded decision of which you want to see more (this sucks, we all go through it). In between the stages, hundreds of vendors (including my favorite local company – Music Over Matter! http://www.musicovermatterclothing.com/) line the walk ways with clothes, CDs, backpacks, and tons of buyables.
Gates opened at 11am and I can tell you by 11:03 I was sweating bullets. One of the key points of having a successful Warped Tour is staying hydrated. I don’t know how many people I’ve seen in my life refuse to move from the front of a crowd and lose their spot to get water, it isn’t worth it guys, let me stress that, it isn’t worth it . Warped Tour does a great job at helping cut the cost of expensive waters and sports drinks the best they can. For starters, you can bring in one unopened water bottle, and then they have the Cool Gear water hydration spots. These spots have multiple bar hoses that are constantly filling up the empty bottles of festival goers – for free! (Tips are appreciated!) The spot was tucked into the back area of our show, but it is worth the trek back and forth, that water can be the biggest determiner of if you’re going to make it through the day.
I kicked off my day catching The Word Alive, a metalcore band from Phoenix. The band definitely set a high point, getting the crowd amped up for a long day of great music. Next up was Warped Tour vets Yellowcard. Earlier this year Yellowcard announced their final album and farewell tour for later this year. It's hard to see a band that has been in this scene for as long as they have coming to an end, so it was great to have the opportunity to catch them at Warped before the final tour. I headed over to catch Australian rockers Tonight Alive for the first time. Great stage presence, and singer Jenna McDougall has a killer voice. The highlight of the set was the crowd picking up a girl seated in a wheelchair and held her over their heads so she could sing right along with McDougall, it's always special to see people come together to make something beautiful happen.
I made it a point to catch Ghost Town, Waterparks, Against the Current, and Avion Roe throughout the day as I had heard great things about each band, but hadn't actually heard anything from them. Ghost Town's electronic rock has a catchy danceable beat that their fans were going wild for. Avion Roe definitely reminds me more of the bands I listened to in highshool, the heavier "emocore" side of pop rock, but that's not a bad thing by any means, they have a solid sound and I'll definitely be checking them out. Pop rockers Against the Current had a great fan base present, and singer Chrissy Costanza has a killer voice. Waterparks definitely draw inspiration from older Warped Tour bands like Blink-182 and Good Charlotte and were a lot of fun to watch live.
There was a good mix of heavier bands present in the lineup this year, which made me pretty happy. I made sure to finally catch Motionless in White live and they were incredible. Talented musicians with a great sound, they are definitely bringing gothic rock back to the spotlight. Chelsea Grin wear the deathcore title proudly, and give a killer show every set. There is no downtime at a Chelsea Grin show, they are always moving, jumping, and pummeling the crowd with their heavy rifts. Every Time I Die played as our daily afternoon thunderstorm kicked in and it started pouring. This didn't diminish the integrity of their show, though. Even in the rain, guitarist Jordan Buckley jumped off amps to the stage, and dove towards the crowd producing some of the most killer moments of the day. Knoxville’s Whitechapel brought the house down with Phil Bozeman’s guttural vocals and dominating setlist. Whitechapel’s live show gets better every time I see them, and the crowd seemed to agree as they moshed through the set.
A personal highlight of the day was getting to see Sum 41 live for the first time, they immediately brought fans up on the stage to rock out with them, and the set list notched off their popular songs keeping the crowd singing the entire time. Volumes were the kings of crowd interaction, with vocalists Myke Terry and Gus Farias spending most of the set at the barricade rocking out with their fans. We The Kings finished out the day with an emotional set as Travis Clark had everyone sing along to their “Sad Song" while being filmed for an upcoming video. Clark ended the show saying that the band had never played last before, so they weren’t sure how to end the night, but having the crowd rush over to the side stage so he could meet everyone seemed to appease the fans!
Other notable performances of the day included Set It Off, Sleeping with Sirens, The Maine, New Found Glory, Mayday Parade, Reel Big Fish, and Falling in Reverse. The Maine, New Found Glory, and Mayday Parade were extremely popular staples to my highschool days of driving around with my best friends just listening to music. Hearing a lot of the songs I’d been jamming out to for well over a decade was definitely nostalgic. Of course, while it is impossible to see every set of day, you can bounce around and catch snippets to get a well-rounded feel of the bands on the tour. Definitely check out the lineup in advance, but be prepared to have to make some important decisions on the day of!
The 22nd year of Vans Warped Tour has a wide variety of bands, and tons of other experiences to take part in. From making birthday cards for homeless child, to signing petitions about promoting tattoos in the workplace, playing games with TruthOrange, or even signing up to vote! Warped Tour is more than just the music, it’s a full day of fun in the sun (literally – so burnt). Kevin Lyman has created one of the most iconic summer festivals that brings people from different social groups and walks of life together as one. If you have never gone to a Warped Tour date, you’ll want to change that, yes it will be hot, yes it wil l probably rain, but there is nothing like those ten hours you will spend with your friends. Even if none of your friends go with you – you’ll be sure to make some there.
In closing, one of the best things about experiencing Warped Tour in Orlando this year, was watching the bands come out in full support of the city that less than three weeks prior had forty-nine innocent lives taken. I won't lie and say it didn’t bring me to tears more than once, as almost every band took the time to stand in solidarity with the people of Orlando, and offer their support in the wake of our tragedy. From Pride flags, to words of encouragement, I’d have to think everyone felt a little closer to each other at this date than any other.