The summers biggest alternative event takes place across the US, the tour is made up of the freshest bands and even some of the biggest names currently in the scene. It’s a safe haven for fans who seek to be themselves, who simply just want to enjoy the music they like without being judged or frowned upon for it. We’re of course talking about the annual Vans Warped Tour, an alternative spectacular that is set out much like a festival but travels relentlessly June through August as opposed to happening in a sole weekend.
Whether you’re familiar with Warped Tour or not, what you should know is that there is something for everyone. Classic pop punk from the likes of Good Charlotte graces the stages this year, there is metalcore abound, some ska and even hip-hop in the form of Wacka Flocka Flame making a short appearance. We headed out for two dates in Hartford, Connecticut and Mansfield, Massachusetts. These are our highlights, as well as our exclusive images from the event.
Emarosa are a band who fell off of the radar for a while following various lineup changes and a few years without much of a news update, let alone a single release. They made a triumphant return in 2014 with album ‘Verus’ and since Emarosa have come leaps and bounds, almost as if they’re a brand new band with everything from their past ultimately forgotten. They recently released an album by the name of ‘131’ and have been performing a few of the tracks on this years Warped tour. Their set is possibly our biggest highlight from both days, it’s constant energy from start to finish. Though Emarosa aren’t headlining, or even on main stage, they really should be as the crowds they draw in are some of the biggest of each day.
When watching Emarosa what you will find is vocalist Bradley Walden throwing himself into the crowd, even riding the shoulders of fans as he is transported through people to sing with those who have taken the time to come and watch them. On stage he is forever moving, bouncing from one side to another, where if yo were to blink you’d simply miss it. It’s full of spontaneity, with members hanging from the rafters, flipping one another upside down and falling to the floor completely wrapped up in the song. That paired with the incredible sounds of their new tracks is a perfect combination watch at this years Warped Tour.Two years ago Issues were hidden under the cover of an amphitheater, playing only a portion of the tour and their crowds were very similar to those Emarosa have drawn in this year. However, on this run they are playing every single date and from one of two main stages. It has allowed them to move more freely, especially in the case of bassist Skyler Acord who can’t be still for even a second as he thrashes around blindly. Though Issues brought their Pokemon themed set up with them long before the new GO app had been released, it has become somewhat of a crowd pleaser and draws in a lot even just with their intro of the highly memorable theme tune of the show.
Their set is a mix of both old and new tracks, it’s been a little bit since their newest album ‘Headspace’ was released and fans watching seemed to now know every word. Blue Wall seemed to cause a bit of a ruckus, it’s heavy riffs and even heavier tone was a high moment as it was raw in it’s portrayal of Police Brutality in a live setting. The song that hyped the crowd the most was the bands own anthem Hooligans which saw a plethora fans clambering over one another to get to the front. Despite being the first set of the day, they were definitely one of the more memorable acts.
Of all the pop punk acts from classics Sum 41 to new breeds like State Champs, by far one of the best and perhaps most underrated is Broadside. Hailing from Virginia, this five piece mustered a vast crowd – the biggest to their stage across the day. Though they sing of similar things to a lot of pop punk bands, what they offer is somewhat different. Even live their sound is versatile, with some songs fitting more on the pop spectrum of their genre and some fitting on punk. It’s what makes them enjoyable, they have something for everyone and it shows live in crowd reaction.
It doesn’t go unnoticed, the band almost seem surprised by how many people have decided to watch them. Vocalist Ollie Baxxter seems the most taken aback and with a bright smile, jumps to interact with those that are singing the words back to him. It’s only for a short while but as he’s there the amount of crowd surfers doubles, everyone wanting to get in with singing on their new favourite band.
THE REST OF THE FEST
Bad Seed Rising are a kickass addition to this years proceedings, fronted by female vocalist Francheska Pastor, they bring a new flare to the familiar rock sound and can give as much of a performance as some of the bigger names on the tour. Tonight Alive are another female fronted powerhouse that this year graced the main stage, though with a minimal stage set up, they proved that, unlike some of the acts, they don’t need all of the extras to put on one of the best shows of the day.
One of the biggest bands currently in the scene is Sleeping With Sirens and while they sounded pretty good, the set as a whole was a little underwhelming when following some of the more entertaining acts and would do much better on their own tour. Though among a setlist of mostly new tracks, hearing the old If You’re James Dean re-imagined in a live setting was quite a treat. A surprising set was from Oceans Ate Alaska, metalcore still seems to be a huge across the pond and especially at Warped tour which was home to two metal stages this year. From starting out low on the lineup, OAA has quickly climbed into a headline spot closing out their stage a lot of the tour and it’s well deserved. For those who do still enjoy the screams and quick dark riffs that metalcore has to offer then live Oceans Ate Alaska are a one to watch.
Last, but most certainly not least, was PVRIS. The Boston natives made their presence known for one date only and that was Connecticut and they were welcomed by hoards. They were even joined by the ever enigmatic front-woman of Tonight Alive, Jenna McDougall for a number, which spurred the idea of a Tonight Alive and PVRIS tour – perhaps even world domination. Though their setlist has been the same for the past two years they’ve been touring, it’s impossible to grow tired of the feel good vibe that comes from them – even while dressed in monochrome. Even better the fact that front-woman Lynn Gunn’s vocals have come so far since their humble beginnings and even since they performed at last years tour. Holding the high notes for extended lengths of time is what she seems to do so well and we’re sure she’ll get even better come next album.