Photo courtesy of Warpedtour.com
The average date of Warped Tour usually houses between 15,000-20,000 people, depending on the venue’s regulations. With the tour having 43 dates, that means that well over 700,000 sweaty, passionate music lovers are coming from all over the country to sing, dance, scream, mosh and thrash their little hearts to some of the biggest up-and-coming acts that the scene has to offer. Each of the these Warped-goers have their own story to tell…and here’s just one of the many.
I woke up around 6:00 a.m. on the morning of July 6th. Usually waking up this early is a chore in itself, but not today, my friends – today’s the day for Warped. I went downstairs, making sure all of the stuff I had meticulously packed the night before was still in its organized place. Directions, sunscreen, bandanna – everything was where it was supposed to be. After getting dressed and all packed up, my parents and I packed up the car and were on our way to my friends’ homes. Firstly, we picked up my friend Neil, most excited for The Used, War Games and Hyro Da Hero. Secondly, we picked up my other friend Courtney, who was excited for All Time Low, Mayday Parade and Taking Back Sunday. Starting the drive, we made casual small-talk on our way to a nearby town to fill up and get McDonald’s. On the way, we talked about everything from college to music, passing the time by on our way to the venue. After two hours or so, we arrived.
We got to the venue (which this year was The Palace of Auburn Hills, home of the Detroit Pistons) around 10:20 or so. If there was absolutely zero traffic, we would’ve gotten in at 9:50, but for the last quarter mile it was backed up to no end, so we got there later than expected. We showed our tickets and went inside where at least 8,000 people were waiting for the doors to open. While waiting, we sat down in the actual stadium area, where they were showing No Room for Rockstars on the overhead scoreboard. As we were watching, I checked my Twitter on my Droid for set times and sure enough, Mayday Parade’s set was going to be 11:15. Knowing that, we got up and tried to get as close to the front as possible. With the doors finally opening at 11:20, we rushed to the Monster Energy stage, which we could see from the outside in the distance. Luckily, their set got moved to 11:30 so we were able to get a great spot.
11:30 – Mayday Parade
The band came out to an orchestral opening, which led in really well to “Oh Well, Oh Well.” All the girls were crowd surfing and all the dudes were pushing, just like all of the other times I’ve seen Mayday Parade. It was a really awesome moment. We only stayed for three songs because it was extremely hot and we wanted to conserve energy for some of the later sets. The band sounded great as always (this was my 3rd time seeing them), but it was a pretty expected set. We sat down on the pavement and organized our day with the schedules we got on our way to the stage. Not a ton of conflicts, but a few bummers, which I’ll discuss later.
The next act wasn’t until 12:30, so we walked around and familiarized ourselves with the venue, seeing that all of my previous Warped Tours have been at Comerica Park in Detroit. I bought a lot of my merch early, so I wouldn’t have to run around at the end trying to get all of my stuff. While doing this, I ran into Brook Betts (Mayday Parade guitarist) and Brett Jones (Fireworks guitarist). One thing we did specifically was find the Music Saves Lives tent to redeem the voucher that came with donating blood. I wasn’t one of the first 100 people to get backstage passes (for side stages), but I did get a ‘cut the line’ pass for their signings (New Found Glory, Skinny Lister, Rise Against), as well as free water refills (thank God). After that, I made it to the KIA Soul stage to see…
12:30 – Four Year Strong
I’ve been wanting to see Four Year Strong for the better part of three years, so it was exciting to finally get to see them. Though they started twenty minutes late, they returned the favor by playing as soon as they got on stage. To my surprise, they sound much more gruff and hardcore in a live setting than on their releases, which made for a great set. I only stuck around for three songs, but they really brought it from what I saw. The most memorable part was when Alan Day got in the crowd for “Gigawatt,” which was really cool. I walked away as they started playing “Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die” to make it to the MSL tent for the NFG signing.
This year I decided to do something different. At my place of work, they had these autograph dogs that people use for their classmates to sign at their graduation. I decided to bring one of those to Warped to get it signed. I got there a little before 1:00, though it wasn’t really necessary. Seeing that I got to cut the line, there were only four people between me and meeting the band. I only got to meet Jordan, Chad and Cyrus, seeing as they started the signing before everyone was there. However, all of them were very nice guys who engaged in conversation. After meeting them, I went over to KIA Rio to see…
1:00 – The Used
The band was fifteen minutes late starting (still understandable with the doors opening late), but it was worth it when they started playing “Take It Away,” my favorite Used song. I’ve wanted to hear that song in a live setting ever since I watched that YouTube video of them playing it in 2004 at Warped Tour, and it was really cool even though Bert McCracken wasn’t screaming. The band’s first half of the set was heavy on new material (with the exception of “Bird & The Worm”) so I wasn’t really active, but they still brought it. Bert’s onstage banter wasn’t as polished as I expected (he mostly just asked for boobs and PCP), but he was still entertaining and commanding all the same. After ducking out at 1:30, I headed to Monster Energy to see…
1:30 – Every Time I Die
Every Time I Die was one of my must-sees for Warped this year. After seeing their manic, inspired performance at Bled Fest last year, I knew I had to see them again, especially in support of Ex Lives. I got there just as Rise to Remain was finishing up, so I knew I was in for the long haul. After twenty minutes of talking to other people in the crowd, they started. They came out to “Get Ready for This,” more formally known as the jock jam that’s played at most sporting events, which led into “No Son of Mine.” They played a lot more of their older stuff than I had anticipated, so I was quiet for about half the set and full blast for the other. “Underwater Bimbos” sounded awesome, as well as “Holy Book of Dilemma,” my favorite track from Ex Lives. Keith Buckley and the band sounded spot-on, and the crowd was one of the best I’ve seen. As soon as their closer “Ebolorama” was done, I ran to see what was left of…
2:20 – Hyro Da Hero
Being one of my must-see acts of the tour, I knew I had to see at least half of Hyro’s set. When I got there, there were only about thirty people, barely filling up around the barricade. I could tell that it didn’t matter to Hyro though because he still brought it, despite the horrid heat. During the last song “Sleeping Giants,” he got in the midddle of the crowd and asked everyone to give him a hug when the song kicked in, which was awesome. He did the first half of the song in the pit, with me screaming in his face the entire time. Later during the song, he got on the barricade and gave me a mic pass during the chorus. After the set, we went to his tent, which was steps away, and he signed my autograph dog. As expected, he was a very nice, humble guy. I’d definitely see him again in a smaller venue. However, after the set, I was completely and utterly beat, so we all went inside and got a ton of water to drink. Because of this, I missed Yellowcard‘s set, but with them touring in the fall with The Wonder Years & We Are The In Crowd, I’ll probably just catch them then. After about a half hour of rest, we went back to the Tilly’s Stage to see…
3:20 – I Fight Dragons
I Fight Dragons has always interested me as a band. With what could’ve seemed gimmicky and annoying, their hybrid of pop-rock and video game-esque theatrics is a very cool thing to see unfold. The band sounded as solid as they do on their debut full length Kaboom! and kept a consistent energy throughout the entire set. The pause and guitar solo at the end of “Money” were really cool touches that I’d love to experience again. The only thing I have to critique is that I wish they would’ve pushed the whole video game aspect of their set farther than they did. I guess I was just kind of expecting a band like Powerglove, whose live sets are nothing short of exhilarating because they push their inner nerd to intense levels. Other than that, it was solid.
After that, to be honest, I was really, really beat. I started to walk to New Found Glory‘s set, but decided against it. I still was really dehydrated and kept running into friends. I ended up just walking around the venue for most of New Found Glory’s set. While walking, I got a refill, picked up some more merch and saw an eency bit of Fireworks‘ set (they played “Arrows,” “I Grew Up In Legion Hall” and “X’s On Trees”). They sounded good from what I could hear, though their mics needed to be turned up much more than they were.
3:45 – New Found Glory
After that, I decided to just suck it up and see the rest of New Found Glory. When I got there, I found a cozy spot in the back. I had watched a live set of theirs on cable one day and was really impressed with their stage presence. Granted, I don’t really know that much about the band – besides the singles that everybody knows – but I still knew that missing them would be a huge fuck-up on my part. Just as I had anticipated, they brought it. I caught them playing “All Downhill From Here,” their cover of Green Day‘s “Basket Case” and “My Friends Over You.” Their set definitely made me want to go home and completely memorize Sticks & Stones for the much-anticipated anniversary tour of the record. This definitely won’t be my last time seeing the band. After seeing their set (at KIA Soul), I went over to KIA Rio to see…
4:20 – All Time Low
This was a no-brainer. This was my fifth time seeing All Time Low, and for good reason. With every live set I see the band getting better and better; they’re definitely a band that keeps me coming back for more. The band sounded spot on, as usual, playing an array of songs from all four of their albums. “Heroes” transferred really well to a Warped Tour crowd, and “Jasey Rae” was nothing short of gorgeous, seeing as it was the second time I’ve heard it live (the first time not knowing the song very well). Thankfully, “The Reckless & The Brave” breathed some much life into the live setting, giving me hope for the band’s latest record coming this Fall. As far as their onstage banter, maybe it’s just me growing up, but it didn’t seem as funny this time around. It felt really forced and, frankly, kind of boring. They could’ve swapped out all of the dialogue for another song, but I guess that it’s something that the band has established into their set, so it’s alright. Nevertheless, this won’t be my last time seeing them, you can bet your ass on that.
After the set, I found my friends Neil & Courtney and we went back inside. We sat down, I took the fan I brought with me to cool down with, I got a chicken sandwich and we just kind of chilled out. The next band I was dying to see wasn’t until 7:00, so we had tons of downtime. After resting for about half an hour, I went over near Monster Energy to check out the fire hose that was spraying water from about four stories in the air. Talk about refreshing. While I was doing this, Motionless in White was playing. I honestly can’t say I like their music very much, but damn, they sounded spot on. They just finished their new song and transitioned into “Abigail.” I watched for a little bit, then went to find a place to sit down. I ended up over near the KIA Soul stage, and for the hell of it, I decided to watch…
6:05 – We the Kings
I’ve been listening to We the Kings for as long as I can remember. They’re a band that I’ve always enjoyed, no matter what my age is. However, seeing that I’ve seen them twice already (meeting them on both occasions), I decided going into the festival that I would try and see someone else instead. That quickly faded away though. It was so hot and I was so tired that the mere thought of moving my legs was dreadful, so I decided to just watch them. However, that’s not to say that that was a bad thing. Just as they were the previous two times, they were incredible. Travis Clark’s live voice is always silky smooth and he has a charismatic enough persona that commands the crowd. Their set was pretty standard from when I saw them in 2010. “Skyway Avenue,” “She Takes Me High” and their cover of Jimmy Eat World‘s “The Middle” were all featured, as well as some newer stuff like “Friday Is Forever,” “Say You Like Me” and their new single “Party, Fun Love & Radio.” Like Mayday Parade’s set, it was as expected as you can get when it comes to a band like them. For those who love We the Kings like I do but haven’t seen them, definitely do it now. If you’re like me though, I’d give another band a shot.
I ended up leaving before their last song to get a good spot for…
6:55 – Transit
I’d only seen Transit once before, at Bled Fest last year. Frankly, I wasn’t as impressed with the band as a lot of my fellow pop-punk lovers, but they’re still fun. If you would’ve asked me if I’d be seeing their set this year back then, I would’ve probably gone to see Breathe Carolina, who were playing at the same time. However, after numerous listens to their latest album Listen & Forgive, a record that I’d highly recommend to anybody, I knew I had to see them in support of their new material. Luckily, their set was about 75% from Listen & Forgive. Joe Boynton and the band sounded spot on. Literally. I don’t think I saw a band all day that sounded as pitch-perfect as they did. Songs like “1978,” “Long Lost Friends” and “All Your Heart” soared for this reason, as they captured the same excitement as their recorded counterparts. Oh, and the drummer for Fireworks filled in -their regular drummer was at a family reunion that weekend – and did a great job. As much as I do love their latest album, I must say, “Stay Home” was the best memory of Warped that day. Matty Arsenault from A Loss for Words came out to sing the repeating line “Keep Running, Keep Shining On,” and Joe got on a boogie board, stood on it, and then dove in when it kicked back in again. Incredible. I really wish I could’ve talked to Joe afterwards, but I was so tired that I needed some more water.
While my friends and I were standing under the hose again, Vampires Everywhere was playing. I can see that they’re trying to stand out in their genre, but damn, did they sound bad. For Monster, the crowd seemed extremely small (only about four rows deep), and their lead singer wouldn’t quit swearing and ranting about bigotry and racism. Great message, just not very well-received. After that, we were pretty much done with bands until 8:30, so we went to KIA Soul to camp out a little bit. While walking to the stage, Rise Against was playing to the biggest crowd I’d seen all day. Their extremely popular songs are the only ones I know by them, and luckily, they played all four of them in a row (“Satellite,” “Savior,” “Prayer for the Refugee” and “Give it All”). Awesome. Once they were over, I looked through my merch, only to discover that the Every Time I Die shirt was too big. I went back to the tent, but their merch guy had packed up everything already. So now I have an ETID nightshirt. Go figure.
I got back just in time for the last band on KIA Soul…
8:25 – Taking Back Sunday
This was a long time coming for me. Taking Back Sunday is one of my sister’s all-time favorite bands (next to Brand New and Bright Eyes), so I had been predisposed to their music for the longest time. Thankfully, they played from all of their albums (except New Again sadly…or not, depending on who you are). They came out to the main theme from The Lion King, with a fan holding up a plastic doll of Simba as well. Their banner went up as they started playing “Faith.” From the second they started playing, they had their A-game, especially for such a late set. I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews about Taking Back Sunday’s live performance, but trust me, they really had a memorable set. While Adam Lazarra was sketchy at times, yet passionate, John Nolan sounded incredible the entire time. I’ll definitely try and see them again on their Tell All Your Friends reunion tour.
After leaving during “MakeDamnSure,” we walked out of the venue, found my parents, and got out of the park at about 9:15 or so. Overall, the day was a ton of fun. There are still a lot of bands I didn’t get to see (Bayside, Of Mice & Men, Yellowcard, Breathe Carolina, Polar Bear Club, etc.), but most of my main bands I got to see. Warped Tour is always one of the main events I look forward to every summer and this year was no exception. For me, my favorite set of the day was Transit, with Every Time I Die and Taking Back Sunday coming in a tie for second. As for next year, let’s just hope that Kevin Lyman decides to stick with two Main Stages again, as it provided for a hectic yet exciting day. Until 2013, stay Warped, my friends.