As we start to get into the double digits of announcments, we’re starting to see more lesser known bands begin to get announced. This week specifically catered to more of the poppier spectrum of Warped-goers.
Band: Breathe Carolina (All Dates)
Check Out: “Wooly” from Hell Is What You Make It
Similar To: 3OH!3, I See Stars, Innerpartysystem
My Reaction: The tag-team duo of Kyle Evan and David Schmitt, more commonly known as Breathe Carolina, has certainly been flourishing in the realm of electronic-pop these days. After putting out their debut album It’s Classy, Not Classic in 2008, the booming cult success of the Colorado dance-electronic duo (don’t say 3OH!3 just yet) quickly attracted the eye of indie label and commonly associated Warped Tour affiliates Fearless Records, who signed the band later that year. Now four years later, the band has put out two more full lengths, played two full Warped Tours on side stages and has toured with everyone from Every Avenue to Brokencyde. They’ve even earned a stint performing their latest single “Blackout” on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Now currently in support of their latest Fearless/Columbia release Hell Is What You Make It, the band is ready to break out of their indie status and hit the airwaves for mainstream success.
Would I Recommend Seeing Them?: If you would have asked me this question early in the band’s career when they were producing heavily autotuned and hackneyed tunes, I would have easily said no. However, after taking an extensive listen to their latest record, I realize that maybe I was a little bit hasty in judging them. Hell Is What You Make It, unlike their previous records, is definitely more focused and well-thought out in terms of producing infectious dance numbers. “Sweat It Out”, “Wooly” and single “Blackout”, which has been lighting up radio waves as of recently, are all giant steps up for the band, given that their previous work was mostly underwhelming. So, given how their recorded material has vastly improved, I’d recommend you check out Breathe Carolina if you’re looking for a fun time this summer.
Band: Fireworks (All Dates)
Check Out: “The Wild Bunch” from Gospel
Similar To: The Swellers, The Wonder Years, This Time Next Year
My Reaction: People have often said that the genre of pop-punk is solely for the youth of today. Due to the typical subject material of adolescent activities, such as small flings and how crummy high school is, the genre tends to get pegged into the demographic of juveniles. However, it’s bands like The Wonder Years, Transit and recently announced pop-punk quintet Fireworks, who are quickly proving that the new wave of pop-punk is more than that…way more. Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, the group is currently in support of their latest Triple Crown release Gospel, which I feel has the potential to be a complete gamechanger for the genre of pop-punk. The album is dense and rich with satisfying lyrical content; it’s personal and important, but doesn’t feel preachy (no pun intended). Because of this, the group has taken their talents on the road with pop-punk giants New Found Glory, Four Year Strong and Set Your Goals. Not only this, but the band’s music video for their track “Arrows” won Best Music Video of the Year as voted by the readers of Under The Gun review. For all of these reasons, it’s definitely looking like Fireworks is one of the biggest up-and-comers of the pop-punk genre today.
Would I Recommend Seeing Them?: I’d say so. I think I may be a little biased in this instance, mostly because I’ll be attending the Detroit stop of Warped Tour, where I’m assuming the crowd will be nuts. However, I’m still a little torn about whether those just getting into Fireworks will fall as hard for them as I did. The truth is, lead singer David Mackinder’s vocal style has a tone to it that takes a little warming up to. However, once you’ve given his vocals a genuine listen, you’ll discover that it’s for the best. Their material is mature, intelligent and thought-provoking; elements that are tough to find in pop-punk. Because of this, I’d recommend seeing the band if you’re interested in seeing a great pop-punk act.
Band: Hostage Calm (7/19-8/5)
Check Out: “Rebel Fatigues” from Self-Titled
Similar To: Handguns, Crucial Dudes, Aficionado
My Reaction: Wallingford, Connecticut punk quintet Hostage Calm’s two-week run this summer will certainly not go unnoticed by fans of the genre. Since their debut in the scene nearly five years ago, the band has consistently provided the music-loving public with their unique variety of punk-rock. What the band does that makes them stand out above the others in their field is combine the traditional punk elements commonly found, as well as use techniques from indie-alt recordings (“Affidavit”) and progressive rock (“Rebel Fatigues”). There have been countless examples of bands combining genres to help their music stand out, but Hostage Calm is one of the few doing an exceptional job of it. As a result, the band’s 2010 self-titled release is a knock-out, combining all of these attributes to make a damn fine record. Their ability to combine elements from several genres should help catapult Hostage Calm into a long, successful career.
Would I Recommend Seeing Them?: There are some people who I’m sure have been with Hostage Calm since the very beginning, following their career all the way up through their anticipated Warped debut. Unfortunately, I was not one of those people. Because I have just found out about the band and their interesting genre meshing, I haven’t really had a chance to let the material sink in as much as those who have. Don’t get me wrong. The band certainly seems like a respectable group of dudes who like to experiment with the limits of their music, as well as transfer that experimentation to a live set. But for now, I’m going to ride somewhere in the middle. However, those who are interested in giving the band a shot, I highly recommend you check them out. They may just become one of your new favorites.
Band: I Call Fives (7/19-8/5)
Check Out: “Elevator Music” from Bad Advice
Similar To: Hit The Lights, A Loss For Words, Farewell
My Reaction: In keeping up with this year’s theme of adding up-and-coming pop-punk bands, the tour has this week added New Jersey’s own I Call Fives. This Washington Township band, once a local favorite, is now touring nationwide this summer on a two week stint. Currently under the management of Warped Tour veteran Buddy Nielsen, most well-known for being the vocalist for Senses Fail, the band has been providing the underground pop-punk scene with their own soulful interpretation of the genre. From their wide array of EPs and seven inches, the band has consistently been keeping a track record of releasing solid material and touring nationally. Now with their new seven inch entitled Someone That’s Not You nearing completion, it certainly looks like I Call Fives will do just fine on their leg of the tour this summer.
Would I Recommend Seeing Them?: While I do thoroughly enjoy I Call Fives’ music, and I’m sure their music will go over quite well on their run this summer, I’m kind of torn on recommending them to the concert-going public. While I’m sure they’re nice guys and fun to see live, they really aren’t anything out of the ordinary. From their bland chord progressions to their average lyrical content, there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason take out of your day to see them. That being said, I’d say it’s more of a gamble seeing I Call Fives this summer than it is a safe bet.
Band: Matt Toka (All Dates)
Check Out: “Say10” from Single
Similar To: Sum 41, Anti-Flag, Rise Against
My Reaction: Riding a fine line between the snappy ‘90s punk of Sum 41 and the overall protest of Anti-Flag, Youngstown, Ohio’s anarchic solo act Matt Toka is planning on spreading his own brand of rebellion this summer on his first ever full run. Currently supporting his latest single “Say10” (pronounced like it’s supposed to) and the upcoming album it’ll be featured on, the artist has shown that the therapeutic aspect of his songwriting is really what drives many of the tracks he’s produced. An activist by nature, the artist also has taken on the role of motivational speaker, visiting high schools in his spare time to talk about suicide prevention to the youth of America. Unfortunately, despite his involvement with important causes, the musician has remained relatively unknown, with the exception of his hometown fanbase. However, with Toka playing both the Warped Tour Kick-Off party later in March and an entire run this summer on the festival, his unknown status definitely seems like it’s up for change.
Would I Recommend Seeing Him?: Unfortunately, because there is a lack of available material for me to really judge Toka on, I wasn’t able to gain an overall perspective of his music. That being said, I wasn’t totally impressed with what “Say10” really had to offer. The song is catchy and fairly unique, but I felt like that particular song didn’t really live up to the anarchic, yet poetic image he’s attempting to create for himself. If this song ends up being a reflection of where he takes his next album, it’s going to be tough to recommend that you spend a half hour of your day seeing him.
Band: Mod Sun (All Dates)
Check Out: “Paradisity” from In Mod We Trust
Similar To: Gym Class Heroes, The Dirty Heads, Kevin Rudolf
My Reaction: Ten weeks into the announcements, the festival has acquired yet another hip-hop artist to perform this summer. Maple Grove, Minnesota’s own Derek Smith, going under the alias of Mod Sun, is ready to hopefully out-rap, or at least rap successfully, his equals. The ex-Four Letter Lie drummer, who quit the band in 2009 to jumpstart this side project, is quickly beginning to gain some recognition for his work. He currently has two EPs to his name, entitled In Mod We Trust and The Hippy Hop, and has worked with current pop up-and-comer The Ready Set on two separate occasions. Not only this, but with rumors of former Sing It Loud vocalist Pat Brown in talks to go on the road with Mod, fans of either will find a reason to attend his set this summer.
Would I Recommend Seeing Him?: I just went through the confirmed list of bands on the festival so far, and to date, there are currently eight hip-hop artists on the festival. That’s enough hip-hop to kill four hours of your day, if that’s what you’re looking for. However, if that’s all you’re up for seeing this summer, then get ready to plant yourself in front of the Skullcandy Stage all day because you’ll be right at home. However, if you’re only up for just seeing maybe one artist of the genre that day, I’ll have to recommend you just skip Mod Sun. To be honest, his latest EP In Mod We Trust leaves much to be desired in the element of producing inspired raps. Unfortunately, even though I’d like to think that Pat Brown’s appearance would be enough to justify attendance, I just can’t recommend him.
Band: You Me At Six (6/16-7/22)
Check Out: “Bite My Tongue (feat. Oli Sykes) from Sinners Never Sleep
Similar To: The All-American Rejects, 30 Seconds to Mars, Every Avenue
My Reaction: Coming across the pond from their native Weybridge, pop-rock quintet You Me At Six is raring to play their second full run on the Vans Warped Tour this summer. With four studio releases to their name so far in their career, the group has been vigorously active in promoting their music, touring their European homeland, as well as North and South America, Asia and Australia. The band is currently in support of their latest Virgin Records release Sinners Never Sleep, which features not only the pop-punk riffage and personal lyrical content the band’s already famous for, but also features some guest appearances as well. Oli Sykes of Bring Me The Horizon lends his vocal pipes to the track “Bite My Tongue”, for what I can only assume was to pay the band back for Josh Franceschi’s appearance in their track “Fuck”. As well as Australian metalcore Parkway Drive’s own Winston McCall for the track “Time Is Money”. However, the band also stands on their own musical merits as well, providing some of their best music to date. Now just stepping off a United States run co-headlining tour with The Swellers, the band is ready to make their grand reappearance at the festival this summer.
Would I Recommend Seeing Them?: I’m a massive pop-rock enthusiast, especially when it comes to bands that have the power and driving force behind them to be just as popular in a continent foreign to them. I find it crazy that the band has found such a huge demographic to spread their music toward so early in their career. From the countless cover stories in magazines like Kerrang! to the huge numbers they’ve brought in with the festivals they’ve played, the band is really making a dent in their genre. Even though I’m personally not huge into the band myself, I’d still recommend those who do enjoy pop-rock to check out their set, mostly due to the fact that the energy they put into their sets is unreal. My score’s going to be closer to the middle, just because of my own personal preferences, but as long as you make sure to check them out before hand, you should be good on your decision to see them.
While this week left me a little cold, I’m sure that there are still those who were pleased at the number of pop-rock acts that we announced. Here’s to hoping that next week will be a little bit more diverse.