VWT-172- The Bouncing Souls

It’s summer and that means one thing for music fans: the Vans Warped Tour. It gets a lot of flack for having this band or that (or NOT having this band or that)… but the fact of the matter is that for the past 16 years, this traveling circus of music has been introducing kids to new music while still giving them the sounds they’re expecting to hear.
(Bands shot: Motion City Soundtrack, Dillinger Escape Plan, face to face, the Flatliners, Alkaline Trio, The Swellers, the Bouncing Souls, Andrew W.K., Set Your Goals, Sum 41, Polar Bear Club, Four Year Strong).

Usually the Carson (Los Angeles) date comes at the end of the tour, but this year many things were switched around so Carson got things started instead. Obviously there were first day jitters as the entrance to the festival was different from previous years and press had some logistical issues. Luckily I saw my buddies in Polar Bear Club and hung out with them for a bit before things really went down.

VWT-004

First up for my day (and the main stage) was Motion City Soundtrack. They delivered their signature poppy performance to a very full crowd that had been waiting all morning to hear some live music. The audience had no problem singing along and the band ate it up. Motion City Soundtrack and their fans, however, did fall victim to the randomness of Warped Tour: Your favorite band could play first or last and I encountered a few disappointed people that missed the band play.

VWT-017- Motion City Soundtrack VWT-016- Motion City Soundtrack VWT-020- Motion City Soundtrack VWT-023- Motion City Soundtrack

Although I had seen them once before, nothing could prepare me for being in the photo pit for Dillinger Escape Plan. Photos, videos, and press releases do not give you the full scope of their live performance. Even if you don’t like their incredibly heavy and technical sound, YOU CANNOT MISS THIS BAND! If “ape-shit” were in the dictionary, Webster’s would find a way to put Dillinger Escape Plan in there. It’s absolute chaos on stage… and it’s absolutely amazing to see live. I’m actually surprised that their audience wasn’t bigger than what it was, but that didn’t stop them from giving everything on stage.

VWT-030- Dillinger Escape Plan VWT-062- Dillinger Escape Plan VWT-032- Dillinger Escape Plan VWT-051- Dillinger Escape Plan

Up next on the main stage was face to face. I had the opportunity to watch them at their reunion during Bamboozle Left a couple years ago. It was awesome to see a band having such a long and successful run. Of course, this is where you see the generation gap close thanks to Warped Tour. Looking out into the crowd you could see a wide range of ages singing along with a genuine energy for seeing Face to Face live. Truly a great performance by Warped Tour veterans.

VWT-082- Face to Face VWT-072- Face to Face VWT-076- Face to Face VWT-084- Face to Face

I had a small break so I walked around to check out the merch booths. I ended up checking in with Polar Bear Club before they went off for their autograph session. Although they weren’t on the tour yet, Jordan from Every Time I Die stopped by while I was there to say hi to the guys. You never know who is going to show up to Warped Tour. Keep your eyes open!

VWT-096 VWT-026 VWT-029

I walked around some more and after hearing some buzz (And trying to find the right stage), I decided to check out the Flatliners. I got there too late to shoot, but I caught a good chunk of their performance. This band is great live! High energy and full of love from their audience. I’ll be sure to see them live again in the future (I slipped this time… sorry!).

VWT-097- The Flatliners VWT-098- The Flatliners

The next block of music had me running around non-stop. If you’re lucky enough to have close venues, you can get multiple Warped Tour stops. But if you’re only going to one date, you have to sacrifice some time from one band to catch another.

Alkaline Trio was on the main stage next. These guys are definitely fun to watch and the crowd really gets into it. Crowd surfing and sing alongs are a must! Like Face to Face, it was great to see so many people enjoying this band and their rich music history.

VWT-101- Alkaline Trio VWT-113- Alkaline Trio VWT-117- Alkaline Trio VWT-108- Alkaline Trio

I hopped over to the Ernie Ball support stage to catch the Swellers. Even with a late start, these guys came out with guns blazing. Working with the small stage they had at their disposal, the Swellers put on a great show for their fans. The audience offered an abundance of vocal help with the catchy lyrics and melodies while the band held it down up front with jumps and heartfelt playing.

VWT-134- The Swellers VWT-150- The Swellers VWT-130- The Swellers VWT-149- The Swellers

I ran back to the main stage to watch another set of Warped Tour veterans. The Bouncing Souls came on stage to an uproar of excitement from the crowd. Seeing this band brings back memories for me of junior high. I saw them on some X-Games music special on ESPN and haven’t forgotten them since. These guys have been enjoying a much-deserved long musical run that doesn’t seem to be slowing at all.

VWT-162- The Bouncing Souls VWT-174- The Bouncing Souls VWT-157- The Bouncing Souls VWT-159- The Bouncing Souls VWT-168- The Bouncing Souls

Andrew W.K. was next up on the main stage. I’ll admit I’ve only listened to a couple of his songs, but his stage presence makes for a very fun live performance. Switching between playing piano and conducting wild body movements on stage shows off his commitment to putting on a good show. He puts all of his energy out on stage and has only one request of the audience: to party!

VWT-198- Andrew WK VWT-184- Andrew WK VWT-193- Andrew WK

I busted over to another support stage as the sun started coming down to check out Set Your Goals. If you want high energy, this is the band to get it from. Although they are from Noral, their SoCal shows go off as if they were the local band that everyone goes to see every weekend. Every time I’ve seen this band, the crowd is always super excited to see them. The feeling is definitely mutual as Set Your Goals does everything in their power to put on a good performance. This includes encouraging the involvement of fans in everything from singing to circle pits.

VWT-225- Set Your Goals VWT-201- Set Your Goals VWT-236- Set Your Goals VWT-242- Set Your Goals

Sum 41 was up next at the other end of the venue. They played a good mix of fast and memorable songs so of course the crowd ate up every note. Definitely a fun performance and they brought in a large crowd as well. It got rowdy enough to the point of one fan being carried out by security while crying. Fast, high energy songs will do that to a crowd. Be prepared!

VWT-252- Sum 41 VWT-265- Sum 41 VWT-251- Sum 41 VWT-259- Sum 41

Closing out the adjacent support stage was Polar Bear Club. I still remember seeing these guys for the first time at the Glasshouse Record Store in Pomona… and now they’re on one of the most popular music festivals in the US. They brought that high energy that I’m used to in small venues to the open air atmosphere and the fans were loving every minute of it.

VWT-270- Polar Bear Club VWT-281- Polar Bear Club VWT-301- Polar Bear Club VWT-291- Polar Bear Club VWT-311- Polar Bear Club

I ran back across the venue just in time to catch the start of Four Year Strong. They were closing out their stage for the day and it seemed like someone suggested an increase in volume. They came out blasting the crowd and everyone went nuts! Singing, crowd surfing, moshing, circle pits… Four Year Strong had it all. Of course with the good comes the bad and a technical problem with one of the guitars ate up some of their performance time. Eventually the problem was fixed and their performance continued as though nothing happened. One song had to be cut and it was left to audience choice for the last song. The crowd favorite “Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die” ended their set and subsequently my day. By the way, a wheelchair user found their way into the circle pit… by far one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen.

VWT-320- Four Year Strong VWT-365- Four Year Strong VWT-340- Four Year Strong VWT-350- Four Year Strong VWT-347- Four Year Strong VWT-359- Four Year Strong VWT-370- Four Year Strong

This was one of the most tiring Warped Tours I’ve ever attended. That’s a very good thing, actually, because it means I had little to no downtime between bands. The line up of bands is extremely good this year so if you do find a gap in your schedule, you’ll most likely be able to fill it up with someone new that you’ll enjoy just as much as your old favorites. Be sure to check out www.vanswarpedtour.com to see when the festival is coming to your town (LA area, you’ve got one more chance this summer!).

Many many thanks to all the bands for such great performances, Warped Tour Staff (Especially Bethany Watson), and Noël and the MSO Staff. Hello to PBC, Tara, Felicia, and Carly… thanks for hanging out!