Vans Warped Tour | 07.27.15

warpedtour 75Despite the relentless heat, bands managed to give it their full effort on stage, and fans wouldn’t let a little sweat stop the fun.

 

 

 

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Living in St. Louis certainly has its ups and downs with weather. Even in the middle of the summer, you can’t predict what it’s going to feel like outside. And for an annual all-day outdoor music festival like Vans Warped Tour, you have to hope for the best. This was my fifth consecutive year attending the festival in St. Louis (yes, I’m obsessed), and we didn’t get lucky with the weather. My first year in 2011 was pretty darn hot, 2012 was unbearably hot, 2013 and 2014 were absolutely gorgeous days (seriously, like the best day of the entire summer), and then we come to 2015. Unfortunately, like 2012, this year was brutally hot. But despite the relentless heat, bands managed to give it their full effort on stage, and fans wouldn’t let a little sweat stop the fun (alright, it was more than a little sweat; more like pools of sweat).

But enough about the weather. Let’s talk about the festival. If you’re not familiar with Vans Warped Tour, congratulations, you’ve been living under a rock. Really, you don’t even have to like the genres of music to at least know what Warped Tour is. It’s the largest traveling music festival in the United States (although it has traveled internationally many times as well). But not only is it the largest, it’s also the longest running touring music festival in North America. The first tour was back in 1995 (geez, that’s the year I was born), and it has traveled once every summer since, making 2015 its 21st year in production. Quite the festival, I know. But nothing compares to what it feels like to actually be there.

Warped Tour features nearly 100 bands (or more) in one day, playing on about 10 different stages set up around the venue, far enough apart not to interrupt each other (here in St. Louis it’s held at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater, previously known as Verizon Wireless Amphitheater). Naturally, the least popular bands play on the smallest stages, relatively-popular bands play on the medium stages, and the headlining bands play on the two “main” (biggest) stages. There’s pretty much always a band performing on every stage, so it’s non-stop entertainment. However, if two of your favorite bands are playing on two different stages at the same time, then you have to make very difficult choices. The show in its entirety usually starts around 11 a.m. and is totally over around 9 p.m. So, like I said, if it’s hot out, that’s a darn long time to be in the sun. Of course, you don’t have to stay the whole time or even get there when the whole thing starts, but you wouldn’t want to miss any of your favorite artists. Most of the artists fall into genres like punk rock, pop-punk, alternative rock, metalcore, and metal, but there are a few artists who fall into genres of electronic, ska, hip hop, and indie rock.

Aside from the stages, every band has its own merchandise tent set up along the sidewalks of the outdoor venue. It’s kind of like walking through an outdoor strip mall, with stores on both sides of you. Since there’s so many bands, it’s a bit overwhelming, but there’s no experience like it. Oh, and did I mention that you can catch almost every band at their merchandise tent for autographs and pictures at least once throughout the day? Pretty cool, I know.

Alright, enough synopsis for you readers who needed background information. Let’s talk about this year’s show. Was it as awesome as ever? Yes. Warped Tour never disappoints me, as there are usually at least 15 bands I would like to see perform (but of course I have to pick and choose because of performance times, so usually end up seeing less than 10 full sets). This year, there were 114 bands and solo artists gracing the stages, plus 11 comedians and two spoken word artists. The two main stages, this year called the Shark Stage and the Unicorn Stage, allowed for performances by 17 total headlining artists. This includes Asking Alexandria, August Burns Red, Black Veil Brides, blessthefall, Four Year Strong, H2O, Motion City Soundtrack, Never Shout Never, Simple Plan, The Wonder Years, Attila, Family Force 5, Man Overboard, Memphis May Fire, Miss May I, Pierce the Veil, and We Came As Romans. As for myself, I can’t give a review of a band I didn’t see perform, and unfortunately I only got to see nine performances out of the 114 artists. Hey, I tried my best. I was there for about seven hours, and I think seeing more than one performance per hour is a pretty darn good ratio.

The bands I saw included Asking Alexandria, blessthefall, Memphis May Fire, Miss May I, Pierce the Veil, PVRIS, Set It Off, Metro Station, and Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties. If you’re still with me, I promise I’ll just talk briefly about each band, just to give a sense of who performed like what.

I’ll admit that I don’t know much about Asking Alexandria, despite them being insanely popular among the Warped Tour music scene (which makes sense, considering the massive crowd that gathered to see them perform). They put on a really good show though, and I was impressed by how well they were received by longtime fans. The band was very energetic, and moved around appropriately at times of unclean vocals (screaming) and clean vocals (singing).

blessthefall has been one of my absolute favorite bands to see live for a while now. Their energy onstage is immeasurable, and they sound effortlessly equal to how they sound on their albums. They’re really one of the best, and Jared Warth’s unclean vocals paired with Beau Bokan’s clean vocals is like a match made in heaven. This was also the only band that I met with for autographs this year (though I’ve met them before), and they were as friendly and genuine as ever.

Memphis May Fire always puts on a fantastic show. Lead vocalist Matty Mullins is one of my favorite vocalists of all time (the voice of an angel, I tell you), and hearing him sing live is no disappointment. Their music is similar to blessthefall’s, a metalcore rock of sorts with catchy choruses and heavy breakdowns, and it’s always fun to watch the fans go crazy (can we count how many crowd surfers there were?).

Miss May I is a band that I’m familiar with but don’t know many songs (really all I knew was their opener, “Hey Mister”). Even so, I still found myself really enjoying their performance onstage, as they were yet another high-energy band that wasn’t going to let the heat stop them. Which is actually even more impressive than other bands doing the same thing, because front man Levi Benton’s hair is longer, curlier, poofier, and redder than mine. He must have been pretty sweaty.

Pierce the Veil, one of my favorite bands, had by far the biggest crowd of the entire day. I wasn’t sure when people were going to stop piling in to see them perform, and truthfully I don’t think they ever did stop. That being said, I think all of those fans left the performance blissfully happy. Pierce the Veil put on a great show, and was the only band all day to have stage accessories (they had smoke, fire, and confetti). If I had to choose a single band that was THE headliner of the 2015 Warped Tour, I would pick Pierce the Veil. They really gained popularity after releasing their last album, Collide with the Sky, in 2012—and it doesn’t look like they’re about to slow down anytime soon.

PVRIS I actually arrived late to see, so I only caught a few songs. I’ve just recently started listening to them, anyway, but they’re so good. Although they have a female lead, they don’t fit into the cookie-cutter mold of alternative bands with front women. They killed it onstage, and definitely sparked my interest even more. After all, I did pick up their album at their merchandise tent, so that says something.

Set It Off was perhaps the band that I was most excited to see all day. This resulted from a combination of my recent obsession with their music and the fact that I’ve never seen them live. This pop-rock group was yet again another high-energy performance of the day, and lead vocalist Cody Carson’s voice blew me away live, just as it does on the studio album. Set It Off made me fall even more in love after seeing them live.

Metro Station was the first band I saw all day. If you’re an old fan, yes, I know, it’s so exciting that they are back together again (and as vocalist Trace Cyrus said onstage, they are here to stay this time). Their relentlessly dance-y tracks immediately put me in a good mood for the rest of the day to come. I was happy to start of the day with a band I knew would draw a huge smile on my face, and they did exactly that.

Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties was the only solo artist (and acoustic artist) that I saw all day. The “band” is the solo project of The Wonder Years’ front man Dan “Soupy” Campbell (The Wonder Years being one of my favorite bands), and the man is simply incredible live. So much heart goes into his songs (and man, are they good but also sad), and you can see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice when he’s onstage. Soupy is such a talented guy, and seeing his solo performance live made me respect his musical gift even more.

There were a handful of bands that I was upset I didn’t get to see, like Man Overboard and This Wild Life, just to name a couple. But like I said before, you have to pick and choose when bands play at conflicting times, and it’s hard choices that you must make. But I was incredibly happy with the artists that I did get to see. Plus, there’s always next year, as many bands play the tour multiple years consecutively.

Vans Warped Tour 2015 was as amazing as ever, despite the brutal heat and sun. Although, I forgot to mention earlier that near the end of Pierce the Veil’s performance in the evening, it started to cool down. Why? Oh, because it started storming. So that ended my adventures, but I was about ready to head home anyway. I guess you just can’t win with the weather: it’s either sunny but hot, or cool yet storming. Fortunately, it was another day I’ll always remember, thanks to the amazing bands that performed. | Emily Van de Riet

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