(Yes, that’s a crowd-surf raft made out of beach balls)

So I guess all good things must come to an end. But at least the good times and memories will keep us in anticipation of what is yet to come. The Vans Warped Tour wrapped up its 14th year in my hometown of Carson. I’ve been following everyone’s stories online from their experience at Warped Tour and it’s sad to know that new ones won’t be popping up until next year. In any case, here’s how everything went down for me…
(I’m sure this article is going to be too long for some people, so here’s a list of bands mentioned in order of appearance: Street Dogs, Anberlin, Set Your Goals, Norma Jean, Motion City Soundtrack, Oreskaband, Every Time I Die, Reel Big Fish, Gym Class Heroes).

As usual, Warped Tour is full of activities for anyone. If a band you like doesn’t go on for a while, you can always browse around the merch tents for goods from bands, brands, and the ever-important non-profit groups.

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One of the key points of Warped Tour, however, is that bands are always playing so you might get drawn in by a band you’ve never heard before. Such was the case with me and Street Dogs. I was passing by one of the main stages getting ready to watch Anberlin when Street Dogs took to the stage. I decided to jump into the photo pit and I got to see firsthand the energy these guys put out for their fans. Jumping out into the crowd and around on stage, this band gave me a good start to my day.

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After some confusion with security (hi Larry), I got into the photo pit for Anberlin. I’ve seen these guys quite a few times now but it never gets old. Their live show is always upbeat and really draws for crowd participation. It’s always cool to hear a singer being able to sing along with fans.

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It took me a while to get there, but I made my way to the support stages at the other end of the venue to watch Set Your Goals. I can’t speak for the rest of the country, but if you watch Set Your Goals in SoCal you’re in for a REALLY good show. Fists are constantly pumping in the air, bodies are in movement, and if either of the vocalists points their mic out to the audience you better believe the crowd will take advantage of it. One of the funny highlights (besides finding myself in the middle of hardcore-dance-central) was a watermelon being thrown into the crowd followed by pieces of watermelon being thrown about during their next song. Good times! These guys are helping to keep hardcore alive.

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Next up for me and the camera was Norma Jean. In Ventura, I couldn’t get a really good view since they played when it was super crowded so I was happy to be up in front of all the action this time around. These guys gave me some great shots while pumping out some really heavy tunes, even dropping back to songs I fell in love with back in my senior year of high school. With the lineup changes and trouble they’ve experienced as a band and individuals, I wish these guys continued success.

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I don’t know what the deal was, but Justin’s voice has been under the weather every time I’ve gone to see Motion City Soundtrack. I was very happy that this wasn’t the case this time around. You could hear the crowd’s excitement and really feel the energy as the band performed. This was basically the performance I’ve been waiting to see from these guys. Great job!

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One of the standout performances in my mind was Oreskaband. This all-girl ska band from Japan is AMAZING! Despite all the jumping and running around that they do on stage, they play flawlessly. Their songs are really upbeat and the set was really fun to watch. If you ever hear about these ladies coming out to your town you better go and watch. I guarantee they’ll put a smile on your face.

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…You knew it was coming. Every Time I Die took to one of the main stages with force. I love this band to death, definitely fun times when it comes to ETID on stage. Their energy level is always through the roof and they will never let you down if you’re looking for a good performance. I can’t wait for the next chance to see these guys and you’d better be there, too!
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Another all-tour act, Reel Big Fish, made me feel really good despite being dead tired by this time in the day. Their set felt really short but they played fan-favorites and that got everyone dancing and singing. Mike from Streetlight Manifesto filled in on trombone for Dan who was (according to the band) “having a baby… out of his vagina”.  Tara from Half Past Two joined the guys on stage to sing “She Has A Girlfriend Now” while the crowd sang along in the background. This is another band that makes full use of the stage so you’d better check them out if you haven’t already!

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Finishing out my day was Gym Class Heroes. They were difficult to shoot since I didn’t bring my flash (I didn’t think I’d be shooting into the night) and there are no real stage lights. I was, however, able to cheat a couple shots thanks to other flashes going off. They had great energy as usual and the crowd responded by getting really into their set and singing along.
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So that wraps it up! The Vans Warped Tour is in the history books for the 14th year and counting. I can’t wait for next year and I hope that wherever you’re reading this from that you got to experience this staple of summer in your own home towns. A big shout out to all the Flickr Concert Group photographers, Warped Tour Staff, and of course the security guards working the main stages… you’re all awesome people!

Check out all the photos by clicking here.