Here in Oregon, I've been blessed with lots of great shows over the last few years, thanks to the hard work and dedication of local promoters King Banana and Mike Thrasher Presents. Shows are often where I can kick back and relax, drink some coffee or soda with everyone before doors, and then have a blast rocking out to some great bands. I'm usually at 3 or 4 shows a month in the Portland area, so as you can imagine it's hard narrowing down some of my favorite moments of 2012 so far.
I'd love to hear from the rest of you, as to what YOUR favorite shows have been this year. Also, what shows coming up are you looking forward to?
(In no set order)
1. Andrew W.K.'s "I Get Wet" 10th Anniversary tour (Wonder Ballroom, Portland, OR) w/ The Evaporators. -- Andrew W.K. was my first large interview, and I was really excited to catch up with him again a few years later and rock out to his iconic album "I Get Wet" from front to back, with more party favorites thrown in for good measure! His backing band was even more ferocious than when I first saw him at Warped Tour 2010, everything was kicked up 110%. You know what made my night even MORE special? Meeting my all-time FAVORITE interviewer, Nardwuar The Human Serviette! His band The Evaporators opened the show for 45 minutes, and it was by far the most entertaining set I've seen in a long time. This was definitely not a tour that I'll forget, and I'm looking forward to my next party with Andrew W.K.!
2. G.K. Tour featuring The Wonder Years, w/ Polar Bear Club, Transit, The Story So Far, and Into It. Over It. (Hawthorne Theatre, Portland, OR) -- This was a show I was looking forward to since Patrick (RockTheWalls) leaked it. Everyone on this tour was so cool, I definitely appreciated getting to see everyone again. Evan Weiss (Into It. Over It.) was hilarious, and crafted a fine live performance, weaving in various stories that inspired particular songs. The Story So Far got an incredibly massive response, and turned the venue into stagedive city for brief moments in time. I enjoyed getting to know Will and Kelen, and seeing how awesome and down to earth they are; this band will go so many places in the future, because they're in it for the right reasons. Transit was the dark horse of the tour, as many kids didn't show much appreciation for the heavy "Listen & Forgive" setlist, which really bummed me out. "Listen & Forgive" was such a heartfelt record and honestly has a great deal of lasting value, and I really hope kids take the time to sit down with it and appreciate it for what it is. Polar Bear Club is the band that always shows up on every tour package and gives everyone a fantastic time. Jimmy Stadt is one of the best showmen in the genre, and I'm really glad to hear that they're getting a great response on this year's Warped Tour. The Wonder Years once again came back to Portland to show everyone a good time, and boy, did we have a blast! Coffee Eyes, Melrose Diner, and Logan Circle all caused me to yell out, and eventually kill my voice. It was without a doubt my favorite experience watching the band, and I'm itching to see them again! I'm really stoked we have a great Official Thread that backs the band hard.
3. August Burns Red w/ Silverstein, Texas In July, and I, The Breather (Hawthorne Threatre, Portland, OR) -- August Burns Red is one of my favorite bands, I haven't missed them since I first saw them in early 2006. I was really looking forward to seeing a proper headlining set with more "Leveler" material showcased, as opposed to their set at Warped 2011. Silverstein never lets me down whenever I see them, it always amazes me the abuse Shane subjects himself to in order to give everyone a memorable experience. Texas In July had never sounded better and more crisp than they did on this tour, everyone was on point. I, The Breather also made a lot of new fans that night, as they were on the cusp of releasing their sophomore effort, "Truth and Purpose", which is a significant improvement from their debut.
4. Enter Shikari w/ Letlive., and At The Skylines (Branx, Portland, OR) -- Living in America is great, but sometimes it's difficult when great bands from "across the pond" aren't as popular over here, and are limited to short sets. So when I found out Enter Shikari would be coming back here to do a proper headliner with full production and everything, I was extremely excited. Letlive. is always great to have around as well, all those guys are super genuine and hilarious guys. At The Skylines showed some promise, but nothing close to ground breaking.
5. Set Your Goals w/ Cartel, Fireworks, Mixtapes, and Super Prime (Hawthorne Theatre, Portland, OR) -- I never gave Super Prime a chance, although they were extremely nice, and after talking to Jordan Brown (SYG) about their story, I have a WHOLE lot more respect for the band. There's some people on here that really like Mixtapes (including Thomas Nassiff), but as cool as they were to talk to, I just didn't really get them at all. Fireworks really left me wanting a longer set from them, they were so solid live. Cartel absolutely blew me out of the water with their live performance, Will Pugh has one of the strongest voices in the scene. Set Your Goals were great as usual, even though Dan had to go home again to attend to his ill father. The good news is, they have a really good friend in Justin Ksionzek (@giglife), who filled in once again (as he has over the last year or so), and did an excellent job. Great mixture of Mutiny, This Will Be The Death Of Us, and Burning At Both Ends material, and an excellent time overall.
“Last day for this Warped Tour, give it EVERYTHING you got!”. In a nutshell, that was every band that I either watched or walked by said at some point, while they practically drained themselves out for fans new and old.
Previous years that I had attended Warped Tour, I had arrived about half an hour to an hour prior to gates opening, and quite frankly, the atmosphere was a tad bit irritating. Kids whining about spots in line, getting bothered to “check out my band, we sound JUST like...”, dealing with cigarette smoke in my face everywhere I turned, etc. With that in mind, I decided that I was going to get there right after seeing The Temper Trap and The Cool Kids play gigs in Portland, so everything that bothered about me before would be reduced to practically nothing, and actually, it worked out for the most part.
I had arrived at the Washington County Fair Complex at around 2am, and decided to take a spot near the front of the line. After taking a bit of a nap, it was around 4am, and the amount of kids that were camping out and eagerly awaiting gates to open were growing by the hour; at this point, there were about 100 kids or so in line, blasting music out of portable speakers, playing cards, reading the current Alternative Press issue, etc. I decided to take some time and talk to everyone on who they came to see, metalcore act Bring Me The Horizon was mentioned by nearly everyone I had talked to as one of the top bands on this years tour to watch. The other bands that had a lot of buzz in the line were deathcore bands Suicide Silence and Whitechapel, post-hardcore act Emarosa, and metalcore band Attack Attack.
At 9am, I met up with Marisa, who was the coordinator for Warped Reporters this year, which is if you don't know, a group of about 10 people for each tour date who have people in line take a lengthy survey on a palm pilot to help Warped know how effective sponsors are, and what brands/media are popular with kids right at the moment. If you are selected to help out for your date, your ticket is payed for, you get in the gates 30 minutes before gates open and get to sit side-stage for one mainstage band; a pretty loaded deal for doing about 90 minutes of work. After everyone met back up and returned the palm pilots we were issued, we all went inside, figured out which mainstage band we wanted to see, and then we were free to do whatever we wanted; I decided to fill out my schedule for the day on the official Warped Tour application on my Android OS powered Motorola Droid, which proved to be a VERY quick and helpful application to have.
After figuring out who I wanted to see, I went to show my ID and email printout to obtain my press pass for the day. After that, I went to the Press Area where the tour buses were located, and signed up for Interviews with Andrew W.K., Haste The Day, Deas Vail, Parkway Drive and Mike Posner; Mike Posner and Parkway Drive ended up declining all interviews that day, which was a tad bit disappointing, but totally understandable, since Warped is a long tour.
I took full advantage of being in the gates early and visited the best merch guy in the scene, Baloni at the Set Your Goals merch table to buy a new pair of shorts, which were luckily not sold out. Also visited Bring Me The Horizon's tent, which surprisingly had very inexpensive stuff, decided on a pair of shorts. After searching for awhile, I found the Tooth and Nail/Solid State booth, and picked up some Mychildren Mybride cologne for a couple dollars.
Setwise, my day started off with a bang with Andrew W.K. on the mainstage; I was supposed to meet up again with Marisa to get backstage ten minutes before stage time. Andrew and his band walked in a single file line from the bus area to the ramp to get on stage, then his band bolted on stage like the Seahawks when they bust out of the tunnel on gameday, while Andrew did some stretching and getting stoked for his show. Andrew was eventually introduced and came on stage, but not before his Merch guy threw loads of free t-shirts and key-chains and air-fresheners into the crowd. The crowd was treated to hits such as “She Is Beautiful”, “We Want Fun”, and “You Will Remember Tonight”, among many other AWK party hits. Highlights included Andrew taking off his shirt and giving it to a girl who had asked for it, Whitechapel lead guitarist Ben Savage playing along to “Ready to Die”, and between nearly every song, a ton of free merch was thrown into the crowd to eager fans. Andrew worked the crowd with ease throughout the entire set, most notably at the very end of the set before his most famous hit, “Party Hard”, when he asked the crowd to perform a “two-layed crowd”, before everyone on sidestage (including myself) was allowed to bumrush to the front and party hard with Andrew before he thanked the crowd for a great time and to have fun for the rest of the day.
I then headed over to the Altec Lansing stage to see one of my favorite bands, Parkway Drive. Funny enough, they came out to an obnoxious 80's song that I couldn't quite put my tongue on, with lead vocalist Winston McCall coming out last, power sliding on the ground, and ending in a modeling pose, which had everyone laughing and cheering. The goofiness must've been what relaxed everyone in the band, because the very second the guitars came in on “Samsara”, Parkway Drive never let up, not even for a second. Plenty of crowd interaction was present for songs such as “Carrion”, “Romance Is Dead”, and “Dead Man's Chest”, to name a few. After ending the set with “Boneyards”, I was able to chat with guitarist Jeff Ling about their upcoming Australian headliner with The Devil Wears Prada, The Ghost Inside, and 50 Lions.
My water was running low, so I decided to grab refill it at the free water area, which was really cool, even though most venues probably had them too, it was somewhere I frequently visited throughout my day. On my way to the water area, I couldn't help but notice the Truth truck, known for being illuminators of the tobacco industry, carrying out their message via wacky dance competitions and prize giveaways, always a smash hit with people over the last few years.
I made my way back to the Altec stage about 20 minutes after Parkway ended for yet another one of my favorite bands, Set Your Goals; They came out to nothing but the loud noise of the massive crowd that had formed by the start of the first song, current single “Gaia Bleeds (Make Way For Man)”, as vocalist Matt Wilson yells “EVERYBODY SCREAM!”, as the crowd perfectly hit “OH!”, as most of the local hardcore scene broke out and swung for the fences as the setlist progressed. After walking away after the set, I couldn't help but smile after realizing that it was the third time I had got to see the band in the last 12 months.
I made my way over to the press area once more to check in for interviews with Haste The Day and Andrew W.K.; About 5 minutes later, drummer Giuseppe Capolupo was sent by Haste The Day to interview, so we went over to a quiet area and talked about the new album, “Attack of The Wolf King”, the recent “Haste The Day vs Haste The Day” show, among other things. I then thanked him for his time, especially since they went on in about 90 minutes from the time we ended, and promised to see him over at the Glamour Kills stage.
Andrew W.K. was in the process of another interview when I got back to the press area, so I decided to pick up some of the free stuff that was layed out for us: LOADS of Wonka candy, Epitaph “New Noise vol. 1” samplers, stickers, Warped folders, etc, lots of good stuff to pick up. Eventually after hanging out with Andrew's manager for a bit, I was brought back to meet Andrew and interview; After initially being starstruck for a few seconds, we did a 10-15 minute interview, talking about TV (including Season 3 of Destroy Build Destroy), his new upcoming album in 2011, etc.
I quickly sprinted and weaved back to the Altec Lansing stage just in time for Pierce The Veil, who were introduced by a goofy looking character that had a penchant for tequila, before the band ripped into single “Caraphernelia”. I will admit, the last time I had seen these guys on 2009's Taste of Chaos tour, I couldn't help but find them annoying, but this time around, the blatant signs of improvement all around that I couldn't help but enjoy myself. Popular top-40 hits by Drake and Ludacris were covered, as the overtly female crowd screamed along. Bassist Jaime Preciado was a wild man, jumping off brag boxes, spinning in circles Pete-Wentz style, anyone could tell he was having the time of his life.
After being harrassed by a few friends to check them out, I checked out Suicide Silence on the Altec stage for a song; luckily, it was the only one I was really familiar with, “Wake Up”. Their guitarists really liked to spin their hair around in circles, something i've honestly never seen a band do live. Vocalist Mitch Lucker stomped all over the stage like a dinosaur on the loose, flapping his arms about.
Haste The Day were just beginning to come on to a fairly large crowd when I arrived over at the Glamour Kills stage, which had the GOOFIEST look to it, due to the gigantic logo in the background. Immediately slamming into “68”, they sounded excellent from start to end, easily the best I have ever heard them live; New songs “Wake Up The Sun” and “Dog Like Vultures” translated well live, and old favorite “Blue 42” sounded as good as ever. Although the band has gone through more than plenty of member changes, they still bring it, never missing a beat.
After agreeing to meet up with friends and goof off at the Monster truck for some FREE energy drinks, I headed off to go see Emarosa at the Ernie Ball stage; I got to walk around with vocalist Jonny Craig earlier in the day and talk for a bit, so I was really excited to see the set, knowing that he was feeling good and ready to put on a good show. All the way from “Set It Off Like Napalm” to “The Past Should Stay Dead”, everyone sounded EXCELLENT; Craig's vocals were flawless, proving to be even better than the recordings. Guitarists ER White and Jonas Ladekjaer were crisp, and bassist Will Sowers and drummer Lukas Koszewski complimented each other, furthering driving the sound, with keyboardist Jordan Stewart calmly soothing the crowd. Emarosa easily made a new crop of new fans with this performance.
Warped has a rich tradition of taking one or two acts every year on tour that are on the verge of exploding in the mainstream; Past acts include Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, Katy Perry, 3OH!3, etc. This year, that artist was Duke University grad Mike Posner.
When I got there I talked a few of the other press people that were there to shoot photo's for the set, then we all turned around and we quickly saw one of the biggest crowds of the day, both guys and gals alike, ready to see the man behind the top-10 radio hit of the summer, “Cooler Than Me”. After a small delay, he came out to hundreds of high pitched screams and broke out into “Evil Woman”, one of his songs from his two mixtapes. A few of his older fans were noticably disappointed in the abcense of his older hits, “Smoke and Drive” and “Kiss Me Thru The Phone”, but what did they expect? Both tracks had guest vocalists, and they weren't on the tour to help out, although G.O.O.D. Music recording artist Big Sean helped out in a few of the eastern dates of the tour. About the mid-way point of “Cooler Than Me”, loud coliseum-like music blared from the Main Stage, which only meant one thing: Bring Me The Horizon was about to play.
Being my last set of the day, I quickly made my way over to the Mainstage as everyone was chanting “WE WILL NEVER SLEEP, CAUSE SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK”, the opening to the smash hit from Suicide Season, “Diamonds Aren't Forever”. Bring Me The Horizon sounded better than ever, due to new guitarist Jona Weinhofen (formerly of I Killed The Prom Queen/Bleeding Through) playing rhythm guitar; the absolute best i've heard them in a non-club setting. Vocalist Oliver Sykes worked the crowd throughout the set with numerous outlandish remarks such as “I need to see Blood, Tits, Dicks, and Ginger People, because everyone loves a crowdsurfing ginger”, and “EVERYONE get as NAKED as you can”; Not even 20 seconds later, Weinhofen was completely naked and bikini tops and basketball shorts started flying into the air. However, the absolute BEST part of the set was something I was looking forward to since mid-day: Andrew W.K. Making his return to the mainstage during last song “Football Season Is Over”, something I initially didn't believe when he told me during our interview. Bring Me The Horizon definitely may not have put on the top performance of the day, but they definitely made the most effort to be the most entertaining; They were fined nearly $400 for jumping off cabs, not to mention they destroyed all of their equipment at the very end.
Warped Tour is was definitely worth going to once again. No matter what your favorite genre was, there was something for everyone. Hats off to Kevin Lyman for another great year. Special thanks to Marisa and Bethany from Warped, Fallon from Fallon Media, Zach and Shilpa from Altec Lansing, and Absolutepunk.net
Pierce The Veil
Haste The Day
Bring Me The Horizon
[Notice: Truth Bears No Responsibility For Content Created By Third Parties]