Call me pathetic, but Warped Tour is still one the highlights of my year - where else can I see 9-10 FULL SETS every day and still get to hang out with everyone? You're wasting your time and money by not rushing everywhere to see and do as much as possible. That being said, this was my experience during both days.
After for being up for over a day straight, I powered forward and arrived at the White River Amphitheater in Auburn, WA. Oddly enough, there was no press check-in tent to be found...so I ended up chatting with a few others from Substream and Property of Zack before getting into an hour late. Because of that, I ended up missing Like Moths To Flames around 11:40 at the Monster Stage.
However, after checking in with the lovely Bethany Watson in Press (in an air conditioned room!), I rushed up the hill back to the Monster Stage to catch The Amity Affliction, and boy oh boy were they stoked to be there, as quite a few people showed up to sing along to songs such as "R.I.P. Bon" and "Greens Avenue". After thanking the crowd continually, the band ended with their current single "Open Letter" and had the whole crowd singing along.
Have you ever felt like not spending money on food and water at Warped? Well, you're in luck, because Matador Beef Jerky and Peace Tea has you covered. Run through those lines a few times, and you won't think about eating for the entire day (you're gonna want to re-fill your water bottle at the Sigg water station though).
I then caught most of Go Radio at 1:05 at the Tilly's Stage. I'll admit I had no idea what on earth they were playing, but they had a sizable crowd that lost their minds over stuff from their EP, Welcome To Life.
On the opposite side of the stage was the #Domo Stage, where Stick To Your Guns were right about to explode. Already knowing that the band might open with "Diamond" as they have been on previous tours, that's exactly what they did; and you know what? I'm perfectly fine with that, because it still makes your adrenaline surge, your emotions run wild. The crowd moshed to songs such as "Amber" and "Such Pain", before the band ended with "Built Upon The Sand".
Right as STYG's last note rang out, the crowd shifted a few feet to the right to catch The Story So Far. Despite what is said about this band, they still put on a great live show, and get a fantastic crowd reaction. It was a lot of fun seeing the sea of people bounce in unison to songs such as "Right Here" and "All Wrong".
After charging my phone and getting some water a few yards away, I ran across the venue to catch letlive. at the Monster Stage at 3. If you haven't seen this band before, you're in for an experience, let me tell you what. As mentioned in our Warped preview, lead vocalist Jason Aalon Butler has the energy of three men, and intends to prove that to you every single day...and believe me, he does. Today, he ended up riding his mic stand until he decided to snap it in half. Other fun includes: unscrewing his mic and chucking the top out of the venue; jumping the barricade and bringing a girl walking away back into the crowd; jumping over a fence, grabbing weeds, and then jumping back over the fence; and then chucking various speakers/monitors with reckless abandon. "I'd rather fucking kill myself then let someone get the best of me" proclaimed Jason before the band launched into new song "27 Club". Chaos will prevail.
When I was through with a few interviews, I realized I could be on time to see Motion City Soundtrack if I ran to the Kia Forte main stage. Luckily, I got there just as the band walked on stage and launched into "Attractive Today". Seeing as the band has so many albums, I was curious to see what they'd play. I'll admit I would've liked to hear songs like "Delirium" and "@!#?@!" off My Dinosaur Life, but I still had a lot of fun hearing songs like "Everything Is Alright" and "Life Less Ordinary". They played a new song called "Inside Out" that sounded really promising. I've never seen Motion City live before, but I'll definitely be back for more (and I eventually was the next day).
To my left on the Kia Soul main stage, We Came As Romans came out to quite a large crowd, as they wasted no time before launching into "Hope". The set was mixed with new and old songs, including a cover of The Wanted's "Glad You Came", which featured vocalist Kyle Pavone taking charge for the first half of the performance. However, my absolute favorite part of the set was when they performed their brand new song, "Tracing Back Roots", the title track off their new album due in late July.
As WCAR were finishing their last song, people immediately started pushing and shoving to get as close as possible to the Kia Forte stage for Sleeping With Sirens. This band has grown considerably since Pierce The Veil's "Collide With The Sky" tour, that's for sure - Sleeping With Sirens pulled the biggest crowd in Seattle EASILY. After a couple minutes of technical difficulties, lead vocalist Kellin Quinn showcased his vocal talent, singing the chorus of "James Dean & Audrey Hepburn" before the band slammed in behind him with full force. "A Trophy Father's Trophy Son" and "Tally It Up, Settle The Score" immediately came afterwards. I knew it was a long shot, but I was secretly hoping Machine Gun Kelly was crawling around the grounds so he could join the band on their current single, "Alone"; but alas, he was nowhere to be found, and the song was absent from the setlist. "Scene Two: Roger Rabbit" is always enjoyable to hear, regardless of the setting. After a few more songs (including an appearance by Memphis May Fire vocalist Matty Mullins), the band ended with "If You Can't Hang". Personally, I would've liked to hear new songs like "These Things I've Done" and "Satellites", but Warped Tour is more or so a survey of what a headliner is like, and the time just wasn't there. Perhaps on the band's headliner? Earlier in the day guitarist Jesse Lawson confirmed the band will be on a U.S. headliner in the fall, and one of the bands "starts with an M" - Memphis May Fire? I'd bet money on it.
Lastly, I ended my night in Seattle with the one and only Hawthorne Heights on the Tilly's Stage. It was mind-blowing to think that the last time I had seen the band, they were bringing the walls down on the Nintendo Fusion tour in 2006 to a sold out crowd. For the most part, the band stuck to solely material from The Silence In Black And White, as the band immediately jumped into "Life On Standby", and songs like "The Transition" and "Niki FM" soon followed. Guitarist Micah Carli did an excellent job with the screamed vocals - I'm sure Casey would've been as impressed as I was. My only frustration was that there wasn't enough time to hear all the songs I wanted to hear, like "Saying Sorry", "This Is Who We Are", "Somewhere In Between", and many more - perhaps the band might've been better off on a headliner? Either way, I'm happy that people stuck around this late in the day to see the band rock out.
It must've been the coffee in production that morning, because today in Portland, everyone brought their A-game. Kevin Lyman really picked an AWESOME venue in the Portland Expo Center Parking Lot - he had BETTER bring it back to the exact same spot in the years to come.
After spending my morning with Big Chocolate and Christofer Drew and Taylor of Never Shout Never, I started off Portland with another helping of letlive. - I mean, how could I not? Impossible. What did the band do today? Well, for one, instead of THROWING the speakers, Jason decided to pick the speaker up and just set it on top of himself, while he screamed vocals. What else happened? Well, Jason took his pants off today, and then tied an old American flag around his waist. Once again, new jams "Banshee (Ghost Fame)" and "27 Club" sounded just as cool as they did yesterday. Oh yeah, and as the band finished "Renegade 86'", guitarist Jeff Sahyoun smashed his guitar into smithereens. KA-BLAM! Set's over.
After talking a few people, I caught The Chariot thrash through a couple songs before I moved on towards the mainstages.
I caught a majority of Woe, Is Me's set on main stage while I was there. Now let me tell you this much, the band's last effort Genesi[s] was a massive disappointment. However, as I mentioned in an Of Mice & Men show review earlier this year, I said that the band had a big opportunity to impress crowds on this tour. And let me tell you, I've never seen Woe, Is Me control a stage like they did that day; there is hope for this band, especially after they played their new song "Stand Up". They gave me something tangible to believe in when it comes to their band. Oh, and did I mention that the crowd they pulled was absolutely MASSIVE? Who would've thought?
Couldn't resist watching We Came As Romans again, so I threw my hands up and had a blast with them one more time at the Kia Soul stage.
I then tried to find Silverstein, before stopping dead in my tracks and realizing that they were bumped to the Kia Forte stage, which was one of the best things to happen to me that day. Everyone sounded so incredibly on point, including vocalist Shane Told. Songs such as "Your Sword vs My Dagger", "Vices", and "Sacrifice" were well received by fans, including myself. I would love to see Silverstein do a proper headlining tour in the fall that hits the Northwest, as getting to see them for at least an hour would be a real treat.
I then met up with August Burns Red vocalist Jake Luhrs as I was escorted backstage to watch their set on the Kia Soul stage. I think it would be safe to say that watching August Burns Red pull the largest crowd of the day in Portland was the highlight of my day. New songs such as "Provision" and "Fault Line" sounded just as massive live as they do on record, absolutely incredible. Every member of the band is such an incredible musician, and to see them all work together is really something to take in. If you like anything remotely heavy, you'll definitely want to be watching August Burns Red on Warped.
Sue me, but I felt like I probably shout check out Never Shout Never, as recommended by my good friends MOD SUN and Pat Brown. Before you start your hater engines, I'll say it now - not everyone will enjoy watching this band, and that's absolutely fine. However, I will say that I feel like a lot of people would enjoy watching Never Shout Never if they merely took the time to watch them...or maybe I'm just out of my mind, who knows. The rest of the band are serious musicians as well; Bassist Taylor MacFee and Drummer Hayden Kaiser are both skilled at what they do, and compliment Drew's abilities well.
Like Moths To Flames was a band I was forced to miss in Seattle due to front gate snags, so I definitely made sure I was at the Monster Stage at 4:55 to catch them today. I also bumped into Craig and Sean from Rise Records, who are always actively supporting the bands that they sign, which is encouraging. Although the beginning and end of the set reflected what they've been doing for a year or so ("The Worst In Me" and "You Won't Be Missed, respectively), the core switched up a bit - "Something To Live For", "Learn Your Place", "GNF", and new songs "The Blackout" and "I Solemnly Swear". As always, the crowd was very eager to crowd-surf and slap vocalist Chris Roetter high-five before being escorted off to the side. I'm really curious to see where the band's sophomore effort takes them - I'd really like to see them do a support slot on a larger tour in the fall.
I was so pumped up to see Big Chocolate over at the Spotify stage, and he definitely did not let me down. With samples from artists like Lil Mama, Lil Wayne, Macklemore, and Trillville, Big Chocolate had the crowd throwing their hands up and dancing the entire half hour he was on stage. This was definitely a 30 minute dance party that I didn't want to stop. He provided an experience that you couldn't get anywhere else on the tour - if you like electronic music, do not miss Cam do his thing.
Motion City Soundtrack happened to just walk on stage as Big Chocolate was ending, so I caught them for a second time, I sure wasn't complaining! "Inside Out" sounded better a second time around.
The Wonder Years closed out Portland to a modest but absolutely hungry crowd that all really wanted to be there - crowd-surfing, sing-alongs, it was all there. I'll never understand how vocalist Dan "Soupy" Campbell can be all over the place on stage and not lose his breath after a few songs, he's just all over the place, spinning in circles and jumping off things. We were treated to three new songs: "Passing Through A Screen Door", "Dismantling Summer", and one of my favorites, "The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves". Other songs included past hits such as "Logan Circle" and "Local Man Ruins Everything". In my opinion, The Wonder Years have crafted a perfect setlist for this tour - they can play new and old material, and also call a quick audible and switch in songs like "Coffee Eyes" and "Melrose Diner" if they want. If you enjoy having fun, you're hereby required to watch The Wonder Years when they hit your city.
A few last thoughts:
- Every year there's an artist or two that's going to blow up in the mainstream. In my opinion, these two artists are Big Chocolate and The Summer Set.
- Who's going to hit Mainstage soon? letlive., The Swellers, Like Moths To Flames
- Who wasn't on Mainstage but damn well should've been? Hawthorne Heights and Silverstein. Both bands have paid their dues and deserve to be there, simple as that.
- FUN PLACES TO SEE: Heartsupport (Meet and chat with Jake Luhrs of August Burns Red and Beau Bokan of Blessthefall), JBWW (Jordan Buckley World Wide - say "Jason Tate Sent Me" for free stuff!), Matador Beef Jerky, and Peace Tea.
- I'm definitely going to have to cover more than two dates on the tour next year, there's just not enough time to soak in all that Warped has to offer in a few short days. I would've really liked to see The Swellers, Forever Came Calling, Emily's Army, and many other bands that caught my curiosity, like Citizen.
Special thanks to: Josh (jjnunn118), Simon (GuitarGuy211) for letting me crash in their hotel room, Bethany Watson (@warpedpress), Tori (@talk2tori), Jameson Ketchum, Jason Aalon Butler, Jake Luhrs, and many more people for making my time/experience over the weekend a memorable one.