This is a (belated) review of the Florida dates of the 2011 Vans Warped Tour.
July 29, 2011 – Orlando, Fla., Central Florida Fairgrounds
July 30, 2011 – West Palm Beach, Fla., Cruzan Amphitheatre
July 31, 2011 – St. Petersburg, Fla., Vinoy Park
I was lucky enough to go to all three dates on Less Than Jake’s tour bus. So, instead of reviewing every single day, I decided I’d just write a collective review based on each of the bands I saw. Hopefully that makes sense.
Thanks to Less Than Jake and their crewmembers for letting me crash on the couch in their front lounge and thanks to The Wonder Years and their crew for being good friends.
A Day To Remember
Makes enough sense that they’re first since I probably have the most to say about them. When I reviewed What Separates Me From You last year, or whenever that was, I really missed the mark. This is the first time I’ve realized that after the review was written. My opinion on the record isn’t any different – I still think it’s fairly mediocre and the band could have done way better – but after watching this band at the West Palm Beach date (could only watch them once because their sidestage line was so long every night), I realized I just missed the mark. The entire point of that record was to launch this band to a height it hadn’t reached before, and it fulfilled that goal in every sense. ADTR was already riding new heights of popularity with the release of Homesick, but What Separates… made this band one of the absolute biggest bands in the (insert your genre description of ADTR here) scene.
Warped was this band’s tour. They were undoubtedly the headliner. They played at 7 or 8 p.m. all three nights I was on the tour, and I don’t think they ever played early than 4 or 5 p.m. throughout the entirety of Warped. People came just to see them. After their set, there was a mass exodus to the gates. At the West Palm date, Jeremy McKinnon mosh-called his way through a set that was played to an ocean of human bodies. I watched the entire set from directly behind the drummer, and disguised in all the dummy guitar cabs, inflatable heads and t-shirt guns, there was actually something I had never seen before. I’ve just never seen so many people so into a set before. It was an amazing thing to witness from the stage, although I imagine it was cramped quarters in the crowd. My hats go off to McKinnon and the band for commanding a crowd like that every day and reaching whatever goals they had set for themselves. I’m sure they’ll be breaking more boundaries eventually.
Black Veil Brides
I only watched a bad 15 minutes of one set on one day, but I respect this band a lot more after my experience on Warped as well. Despite the 100+ degree heat index, those guys were dressed up like whatever they dress up as every moment of every day. Every time I saw them walking around with their posse, they had the ridiculous black getup with the makeup and whatever else. Good for them for keeping to their shtick the entire time, even if I think their music is bad.
These guys only played on the Kia Kevin Says Stage on the West Palm Beach date, as one of the local bands, but they made the most of that opportunity. Despite being slated for the earliest spot, they had a pretty decent crowd – possibly because their stage was right next to the gates. Kids seemed into them and I hope Kevin Lyman managed to catch a part of the set, because Every You is a band that should be on the entire Warped Tour in 2012, in my opinion.
So Farewell Fighter didn’t actually play any of the dates that I attended, but they were one of the bands following the tour trying to sell CDs to kids in line. And they weren’t just trying to do it – they were selling a ton of CDs! At only $5 a pop, it seemed like everyone they talked to was into their music and was willing to drop a fiver on a CD. Get on this group’s bandwagon early, because they’re primed to explode by this time next year.
Less Than Jake
One of the only bands I watched on all three days, and not just because I was sleeping on their couch! LTJ had the most fun set every day that I was on Warped. Every day, Chris DeMakes brought a kid with a “Justin Beiber haircut” on stage to get a mohawk from J.R. and Buddy, and then subsequently brought a girl on stage to make out with him after his hair was new-and-improved. Less Than Jake had thousands of kids moshing to the “Spongebob Squarepants” and “Animaniacs” theme songs, they had triangle and vortex circle pits…they just had more memorable moments than any of the other bands all weekend.
Although I never caught an entire set, I did catch part of their set each day. MovMou were some of the most talented musicians on the tour, and despite not being as uptempo as the other bands, still managed to catch the attention of a good-sized crowd. Definitely check out these guys if you have yet to.
Set Your Goals
I watched them play about three songs on my first day on the tour before half of The Wonder Years’ crew got into a fight with security in the crowd. I went to help and then left their set. I didn’t see them the rest of the weekend because I was instructed to not support the band.
They were undoubtedly one of the most promising up and coming punk bands on the tour. I watched them two of the three days, and was completely immersed in their set both days despite not knowing all their songs. Meeting and interviewing them gave an awesome insight into how much work it takes for a foreign band to do this tour, and I give them as much credit as any DIY band for trekking through Warped. Pardon the following sentence, but Rise Records landed a whale with signing Sharks. This band will be doing great things in the very near future.
The Dangerous Summer
One of the few bands that I made a point to seek out to watch all three days. I can’t say enough about these guys. They now have two incredible full-lengths, and I think major labels will come calling soon enough. That should launch them even further, but in the meantime everyone spin War Paint. AJ Perdomo kills it live – and I was constantly watching Tyler Minsberg shred it on the drums. One of the best drummers on the tour.
Their first day on Warped was my first day as well, so seeing them was sort of a burst of energy. They brought something a little fiery to the day, and even though I only saw them once, they killed it with a good mix of old and new.
This New York-based duo was my favorite of the lighter bands on the tour. Their indie pop is something that has struck a chord with the users of this website already, and hopefully that support continues as Suzie Zeldin and Jesse Gabriel continue what they’re doing. I interviewed them about the obstacles of being a DIY band, and I can’t think of a group I’d rather spend money on. They are extremely hardworking, honest and real people that deserve your support.
The Wonder Years
There isn’t much I can say about this group that I didn’t say in my review of their last full-length. They’ve got an absurd amount of chemistry on stage, which I’m discovering might be largely in part to Michael Kennedy’s frantic beat-keeping. Kennedy was, in my opinion, the best drummer I saw during my three days. I know I didn’t see August Burns Red. But anyway, these guys are stand-up humans, beastly performers and everything that is right about new-school pop punk.
Welp, that’s everything I’ve got to report. Those three days were some of the most fun and sweaty of my life! It was a great time and I hope I get to do more next year. I encourage everyone to check out the bands I wrote nice things about!