I can't think of a better way to start the Warped Tour than by seeing one of my favorite bands, so I didn't mind that The Wonder Years were playing so early in the day at the Mansfield, MA date on July 13. (I had to sit through The Ready Set, who played on the other half of the amphitheater's stage, first.) Despite being among the earliest acts, a throng of kids were piled into the pit area and stadium seats to watch one of modern pop punk's finest. From the opening "Local Man Ruins Everything" to the closing "Washington Square Park," the band's half hour show set the bar high in terms of both band performance and crowd reaction for the remainder of the day.
Unwritten Law began playing next, but I was rushing across the crowded landscape to make my way to see Set Your Goals. I only caught their first three songs - "Exit Summer," "Echoes" and "Goonies Never Say Die" - but it was nice to hear material from all of their releases. Even in that short time, vocalists Jordan Brown and Matt Wilson made their way down to the barricade to allow emphatic fans to sing along.
It's always a blast to see Patent Pending, and Warped was no different. The band unfortunately played on a stage that was not listed on the iconic blow-up schedule, but their small yet loyal fanbase sought them out. Frontman Joe Ragosta was as off-the-wall as ever, with the outdoor atmosphere lending additional opportunities for fun. He jumped around on stage, went to the barricade so fans could sing, crowd surfed and even jumped into the crowd and lead them in running around the sound booth. Despite blowing the stage's generator twice in the span of about 10 minutes, the energetic gang didn't miss a beat.
I headed back to the amphitheater for The Dangerous Summer and caught the tail end of Simple Plan's set, who had a huge crowd. Much like Sum 41 last year, Simple Plan should have been on a bigger stage, because people were interested in seeming them - be it for nostalgia or otherwise. They closed with "I'd Do Anything" and, grievously, the place cleared out while The Dangerous Summer got started. The non-believers were treated to the excellent opener "Where I Want To Be" as they exited. The humble remaining crowd enjoyed themselves as the band played material from both of their albums until the fervent conclusion of "Work In Progress."
Not long after this, the rain began to fall. Massachusetts seems to be cursed for Warped weather. Tradition dictates that attendees must suffer through record-breaking high temperatures or a violent downpour of rain. Luckily, I found refuge inside because I was filming an acoustic session. On the downside, the rain forced me to miss one band that I really wanted to see: Foxy Shazam.
The rain let up by the time that A Day To Remember took to the main stage - which featured giant, animated renditions of their faces hovering over the platform. Not surprisingly, the band had the largest crowd of the day. Scene kids, hardcore bros, tweens and punks alike flocked to watch as the Florida quintet played their signature amalgamation of hardcore and pop punk. During "Heartless," vocalist Jeremy McKinnon called for the classic Warped Tour circle pit around the sound booth and later had the crowd divide down the middle for a pseudo-wall of death. Needless to say, the crowd was into it.
I saw A Skylit Drive play their last song, "Too Little Too Late." I'm not a fan of the band, but thy brought a good sized crowd to the small stage. Following them was Terrible Things. I was disappointed to see that only a handful of people were there to watch such talented musicians, but they still rocked it. The band's members are no stranger to Warped: vocalist/guitarist Fred Mascherino played it in both Taking Back Sunday and The Color Fred and drummer Josh Eppard played while he was in Coheed and Cambria. They recently lost Andy Jackson of Hod Rod Circuit fame from the line-up, but they were tight as a trio. Their set concluded with a portion of Led Zeppelin's "The Song Remains the Same" before segueing into their own "Revolution."
The show ended on a heavy note this year. The last band to play on the second page was the The Acacia Strain, who were introduced by frontman Vincent Bennett as "the fucking outcasts of this tour." The self-proclaimed angry band proceeded to play what was quite possibly the heaviest set of the day. They had a relatively small crowd, since it was the end of the day and they went on at the same time as fellow heavy-hitters August Burns Red, but they still had a rambunctious pit brewing from their homestate crowd. After they ended with a slowed, heavier-than-ever version "Carbomb" to give fans one last chance to mosh, I caught the last couple of August Burns Red songs. They always put on a good show with solid musicianship.
Warped Tour was as fun as always this year. I missed a lot of bands that I wanted to see and hardly had time to check out the vendors, but that's to be expected with such a hectic schedule. The line-up offered plenty of talented groups no matter what your preferences are. In the coming weeks, I will be posting acoustic sessions from Relient K, Less Than Jake, Unwritten Law, Terrible Things and Patent Pending. Lastly, you can see all of my photos from the show at alexislegend.com.