Live review: Vans Warped Tour, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (7/29/2013)



Vans Warped Tour
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
July 29, 2013

This year's Vans Warped Tour pulled its parade of buses and gear into the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on July 29 as per usual, but brought something new in one aspect: it was Warped's most diverse line up in years.

The tour has become known for touting future and current mainstream sensations (Paramore, Blink 182, and My Chemical Romance to name a few) and showcasing death metal and screamo bands galore. So, seeing the kind of range that festival founder Kevin Lyman brought to the masses this year was refreshing.

There were definitely the usual punk and metal bands (Black Veil Brides and New Year's Day come to mind), but there was also a major influx of folk artists (Brian Marquis, Allison Weiss), plenty of soulful singer-songwriters (both new, such as Billy the Kid, and veterans, like William Beckett) and even some techno-pop thrown in for good measure (Goldhouse).

While it was far from Warped's usual lineup, most of it worked. The "EDM" stage didn't appear to be much of a success, but at least they tried. Yes, the Hot Topic-wearing set of pre-teens accompanied by tired parents was present, but so were the 30-somethings who grew up with this musical festival along with the Mohawk-sporting scene kids. It was cool to see Warped veteran's Chiodos, for example, playing to a crowd of moshing kids up front, while those same kids' parents were jumping up and down in the back.

No matter what reputation Warped Tour has garnered over the years it's at least remained true to its original purpose: just to bring a crowd of people of all ages together to hear some music and have some fun.

Chiodos, Reel Big Fish and August Burns Red rocked out on the Kia main stages, the veterans are always crowd pleasers. The best part about Warped Tour, however, is that it allows new bands to break on the scene and play to the masses, and there seemed to be a lot more good bands than shitty ones commanding the crowds.

Some examples:

Goldhouse was, hands down, the highlight of the Domo stage. The first thing their bio says about them is that their music is "not meant for boring people," and that's probably the most accurate way to describe them. You can't summarize their sound as pop or electro-hip hop; it's easier to say that their sound is akin to dancehall techno mixed with a combination of pop and hip-hop tossed in just to make it all the more danceable. These guys ruled, holding a worst dancing fan contest and challenging each other to drum-offs in the middle of a song remix. Don't miss them. Just don't.

The only other band to come close to ruling the Domo stage was Boston-based Big D and The Kids Table. Self-described as a combination of ska and punk, picture the Beastie Boys in their heyday mixed with big band sounds of the swinging '20s. Quite the combination, but the insane energy of seven guys hopping around on stage with saxophones and a white guy adept at rapping makes it work and made this bands one of the most fun to watch this year.

Next door on the Tilly's stage For the Foxes' brought a whole lot of pop and was actually a breath of fresh air from the constant barrage of screamo wannabes. They played pretty early but if you were lucky enough to catch them you would have been treated to a fun set. This is one of the few bands that the crowd actually danced to, always a huge success when it comes to scene kids. Especially when that feat is conquered while rocking out on a piano; definitely not typical Warped, minus the year Jack's Mannequin notably played the main stage. And yes, it warranted the comparison, they're that good.

There were many more, but I can't pick a few to highlight without mentioning Billy the Kid. She's a musician from Canada and definitely new to the scene but her time spent in the Acoustic Basement tent, though brief, was more than enough to show that she's a force to be reckoned with. Her voice is soulful, her guitar skills solid and she's a great songwriter. Billy the Kid is a much quieter presence on the Warped Tour this year, but she's definitely a powerful one.

Other notables: Itch, Wallpaper, letlive, Citizen, The Summerset, Gin Wigmore

Random highlight: It looks like the new tradition at Warped Tour this year was bands asking all of their fans to "come up to the stage and give me a high five" which always incited the masses to go crowd surfing in waves.

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