Friday, July 4, 2008 , Updated 12:37 p.m., July 5, 2008
Concert Review and Podcast Interviews: Vans Warped Tour 14 (July 3)
A day of sun, rockstars, and extremists was the experience of Warped Tour this year.
Extreme sweating, loud music, and the ever-present half naked people. These are the factors that came together to create Warped Tour 14. While this is my fourth one to attend, the lineup and array of people never cease to amaze me. This year I was lucky enough to see a guy wearing only a red bandana with prices for a makeout session or just a kiss written on his back (the makeout was a little pricey for my taste). There was also a rainbow of mohawks walking around; my favorite was the bright purple, 2 feet high spiky mohawk.
Although Warped has been known to have a very diverse lineup, this year seemed to have more of the same genres. This was definitely not a bad thing for me, but it may not bring in as many different types of fans for the shows. The main headliners in Dallas seemed to be Paramore, As I Lay Dying, Angels and Airwaves, and Story of the Year.
After escaping the interview room (I was lucky enough to have many interviews in a row in the beginning of the day), I dashed to watch Against Me! rock their hearts out. They started with their first single, “Thrash Unreal,” which instantly got the crowd rowdy. The front man Tom Gabel stripped his shirt off to try and relieve himself from the 4:00 Texas sun. The bassist Andrew Seward and guitar player James Bowman lended their vocals throughout the show, creating a powerful chorus that hit the audience like a ton of bricks. The band also played their newest single, “Stop,” with little talking in between songs in order to play as much as possible. You can hear more about them from my interview with Andrew Seward.
Warped Tour 2008 PodcastsAdam Siska - The Academy Is
Jordan Mancino - As I Lay Dying
Andrew Seward - Against Me!
Forever The Sickest Kids
Luis Dubuc - The Secret Handshake
Alex Suarez - Cobra Starship
John Christianson, Aaron Barrett, and Derek Gibbs - Reel Big Fish
I rushed to get some food and water to prevent the avoidable heat stroke, and ended up waiting in a 45-minute line for a simple chicken sandwich. Knowing I was missing Gym Class Heroes, I ate my food as I walked to one of the main stages to catch GCH and then wait for Jack’s Mannequin. Unfortunately I missed GCH’s entire set, but I got a great spot for Jack’s. There was a much bigger crowd than expected for Jack’s Mannequin, simply because Andrew’s style stands out from the other bands in the lineup. The creator and lead vocalists' music is sunny and you would think carefree (it all sounds happy, but the lyrics say otherwise), just like his home state of Cali. He sang a few tracks from his old album, “Mix Tape” and “Bruised," which were the most popular. All the girls were dancing their hearts out and calling friends to share the live music. At the end of their set, Andrew carried out his signature move: standing on his piano and playing with his feet. If they come through Dallas soon, there will be no doubt that I’ll be there humming and swaying through the whole show.
Angels and Airwaves was my next venture. Tom DeLonge, the former front man for Blink 182, is also the lead for AAA. The music is more emo compared to Blink, that is the guitar isn’t as prominent and the lyrics aren’t as humorous. Tom seems to be getting in touch with his feelings more on this project. They packed in the people, which isn’t a surprise for the amount of singles they’ve released. At one point he asked everyone to send his or her “energy” to California in honor of his friend who was recently diagnosed with cancer. It united the fans in a different way than most of the other shows of the day.
The Academy Is picked up right where Angels and Airwaves left off. Their crowd consisted of kids, who sang every word right on cue with vocalist William Beckett. He makes all the girls go crazy, as a good front man should. They were all scrambling to take every photo they could of him. He asked the crowd to jump through “A Big Mess,” and to dance “80’s” style (from The Breakfast Club, as William called it) during another track. Their slightly punk sound brings the new generation to enjoy rock as it evolves, helping to show the massive versatility of the genre.
On a smaller stage under the veranda where most shows at the Superpages.com Center take place, local artist The Secret Handshake worked his magic. It’s a one-man show created by the amazing Luis Dubuc. His Daft Punk sound has exploded all over the world. He explained this in detail in my interview. His enormously popular hit, “Summer of ’98,” had the crowd going crazy singing the Texas part at the top of their lungs. Towards the end of his set, he asked if the fans wanted to hear one more. Of course they screamed yes, so he sang a remake of Cher’s “Believe.” If I dare say it, he made me like the song for the first time. Many of the punk rock looking kids shockingly sang along, obviously enjoying his rendition.
Paramore started immediately after TSH, causing me to run across the grounds to get a decent spot. And a decent spot I did not get. They were by far the most popular, widely known band of the day. Crowds overcame both of the main stages (which were next to each other) to make room. They put up onstage these huge, hilarious pictures of the band members making funny faces that were distorted like a carnival mirror. Everyone went wild the second female heartthrob Hayley Williams began singing. They sang all three singles from their newest album, Riot!. The five-foot-nothing front woman hit every note with ease, making the hard vocals seem effortless. Their pop rock seems to bring everyone together, helping to create their enormous fan base. At one point, the bassist Jeremy Davis did a flip on guitarist Taylor Yorks’ back while simultaneously playing “Crush, Crush, Crush.” Although tickets will probably be on the higher end, if they come to DFW anytime soon I suggest saving your money and going. It’ll be worth every penny.
Enough with the rock bands of the day, I got to spend my last show with the ska band Reel Big Fish. Famously known for their live shows, Reel Big Fish did not disappoint. As you can hear in my interview, their humorous antics set them apart*. There are 6 members to the group; 2 trumpet players, a trombone player, the lead singer/guitarist, a bassist and drummer. The only remaining founding member is the main vocalist, Aaron Barrett. He has impressive black sideburns that go to mid-cheek, making him look like a present-day Elvis impersonator. The longstanding trumpet player John Christianson was dressed as a vintage pilot, adorned with the eyeglass cap with leather straps on the sides. They feed off each other onstage, running around during instrumentals and hugging and kissing each other. They began with their 90’s hit, “Sell Out.” The mosh pit consisted of guys hopping on both feet, dancing a sort of Irish jig to the reggae-esque tunes. The crowd loved them and each other, showing how music can really create a certain mood. Their live DVD would definitely be a good investment.
Apart from the music, there was a 30-foot slip-n-slide, the usual skateboarding half-pipe, and a rap-off in a trailer near the food court. The MySpace tent created a buzz by hosting bands in an acoustic set before or after their regular show. It was a great way to catch your favorite band twice in two completely different shows. Of course there was a multitude of tents selling each bands’ merch, and random other tents selling everything you don’t need. There were also many causes out raising money, such as the Invisible Children and breast cancer awareness tents.
This was definitely one of the hottest years of the tour, not regrettably of course. Although I’m not a punk rocker, I can gladly say that I still feel in place at Warped Tour no matter how many piercings and half-naked kids I see.
*Interview podcast will be up soon