Warped Tour has been the signature and essential music festival for Alternative, Emo, Screamo, and Punk music since 1995. After a successful year, Vans (being a sponsor for the event the previous year) took over the festival and has made it the massive tour it is today. Other sponsors have a large influence and contribute to the tour as well, which is made obvious by the stage names: Journeys Left and Right Foot, Skullcandy, Full Sail, Hard Rock, and Mutant North and South. Being a music festival, set times for artists are cut in an effort to preserve time to fit more acts, and with that in mind it brings the question whether or not the festival is worth attending. KPSU’s quick answer: if there are a couple artists you enjoy and the tour is stopping in a city near you, GO!
In recent years, Warped Tour has rethought and diversified it’s lineup to appeal to a wider audience. Yes, it still targets the “Hot Topic” audience and bands, but this years additions of hip hop/rap artists Watsky, Futuristic, and Sammy Adams were a surprise and a huge success. With the talented acts Warped Tour continues to bring along, all the various artist and merch booths, and especially with it being among the cheapest of Summer music festivals, it makes attending worth it. Here is a recount of my time at Warped this year in Salem, Oregon:
My day began at the Full Sail Stage for Courage My Love. I’ve been following the band for some time, and was not disappointed by their set. They were the first band to play the Full Sail Stage, and set the tone for the rest of the day. Their high energy and on stage presence was contagious, and incredibly entertaining to watch. Singer/Guitarist Mercedes Arn-Horn pointed and smiled at audience members who knew her songs and were singing along, and moved around the stage well: walking around to look and interact with members of the audience, flipping her hair around, and bending backwards. It was a set I’ve been waiting some time to see and hear live, and I hope the Canadian natives make a trip to the U.S. soon to show us what a full length show by Courage My Love Looks like.
From there I headed over to the Mutant South Stage to see Too Close to Touch open the stage. Unfortunately, their set didn’t begin as smoothly and experienced some technical issues. Their set started late, and out of the respect of the other bands they needed to cut out a song, but they gave it their all for the time they were on stage. I will most likely say this repeatedly throughout this write up, but this was another set where the artists worked the stage and audience well. With each band only playing about half an hour, they really need to give it their all and wow the audience. Not a single band disappointed on the tour. KPSU sat down with Too Close to Touch after their set for an interview, here’s a link to that interview.
The next few acts I saw were all at Journey’s Right Foot. Normally Warped Tour Stages are not that intricate, and only consist of a band’s banner, and maybe a set of lights. Stage technicians only have a limited amount of time for set up, and to make things easy bands typically don’t make the stages that elaborate. This was not the case for Neck Deep. The stage was full of set pieces promoting their upcoming album The Peace and the Panic, displaying cityscapes similar to the album artwork. The next band I saw, Goldfinger, were the opposite. No set up of any kind was laid out, but the band being veterans of the industry let the music speak for itself. Led by the multitalented John Feldmann, Goldfinger brough Ska-Punk back to Warped Tour and delivered a huge performance. A lot of the audience had seen Goldfinger before, but from the shirts they were wearing it was obvious they were waiting for the band after John to come on, a band/act John Feldmann produced himself…
The crowd, and a lot of the attendees at warped tour, were wearing Black Veil Brides merchandise. A band that has been a staple and household name to Warped Tour and it’s audience, but one that was absent from the lineup this year – kind of. Taking the stage solo was the frontman of the band: Andy Black. In 2016 Andy put out a solo record The Shadow Side and came to perform songs off that. Knowing his audience, he looked out and saw the merch, thanked them for supporting his band giving him an outlet to speak and perform on, but instructing them that they were about to witness a very different show. Though his music is a different direction, Andy has built a large following willing to support his art and creations.
After wandering around, enjoying the sites and taking in Warped Tour, the last show I shot (or got decent pictures for) was Watsky. This rap artist is a person I’ve known about for some time, being involved and friends with some youtube personalities/media outlets I was a fan of, and an act I’d wanted to see for a long time. Again, Watsky didn’t disappoint and was a great act to close out my day. With him on stage was a full band and someone singing for him in the background. Admittedly, I don’t listen to the many artists in his genre, but seeing this set up was a nice addition to his show. Rather than going up on stage solo and singing over an instrumental track pumped over the speakers, Watsky’s supporting band added to his act and complimented him well. Overall I was blown away by every artists performance at Warped, and admire their dedication to their work and their devotion to Warped Tour.
Check out the rest of the dates, artists, and get your tickets on the Vans Warped Tour website.
– All shots taken by Joe (joe hernandez photography) –