Show Review

Vans Warped Tour 2016

​Every year, thousands of music lovers of all ages gather together to get disgustingly sunburned and watch a rattling assortment of bands. Vans Warped Tour has been an institution in the alternative music community for over 20 years.
 
This year, I got the chance to attend a festival I’ve been going to off and on since I was 15. Not only does the festival have nostalgia, but some of the main bands on the bill were the pinnacle acts from my early musical development. Good Charlotte, Sum 41, and New Found Glory were all tremendous influencers to bands who are breaking into the scene today and it’s fascinating to see their journey from the early 2000s until now.
 
Of course, the plethora of newcomers at Warped Tour is more of a draw than anything else. The festival cultivates an environment of discovery, a carousel of raucous live acts that people can fall into if they make the choice to do so, which is just a killer way to spend a day.
 
Warped Tour is so jam packed with bands, I didn’t have to look far to find a solid act. Of course, there are dozens of performers at Blossom Music Center, and dammit I’m just one person. Walk with me in my journey through colossal bands, sun screen, crowd surfing, staying hydrated, and watching people lose their minds for their favorite songs.

Wage War - 12:15 pm
When I first got into the staging area, I caught the last few songs of Wage War’s set as they performed on the Monster stage. I had heard a few songs from the Florida metal band before the tour and they did pique my interest. I’ve heard a lot of “brutal” new metalcore bands before with good cop/bad cop vocals, but these dudes add a little proggy goodness in there while maintaining a late 90s nu metal influence. The end result of Wage War gives you a little more than you normally get with baseline bands, but how much more is up to the listener.
                                        Cruel Hand (Sanchez/2016)
​Cruel Hand - 12:45 pm
I was super fortunate to catch Cruel Hand as soon as they started their set. Before I went to Warped Tour this year, I tried to listen to a few bands on the bill that I had never heard before and Cruel Hand was the number one band I was most excited for. They have a classic, gritty, old hardcore sound with a splash of late 80s thrash that made bands like Pantera explode on stage. Warped Tour 2016 was Cruel Hand's first time performing at the festival, but they got the crowd moving, even at noon when the day had just begun and the crowds weren’t packed. Their lead singer is not afraid of getting off the stage and into the crowd, and the rest of Cruel Hand make sure to use the big ass stage they’re not used to. Luckily, I caught up with Chris (vocals) and Andrew (guitar) from Cruel Hand so check out that interview.
                                                                                                                                                               Every Time I Die (Sanchez/2016)
​Every Time I Die -  1:15 pm
 Alright, I can’t deliver an unbiased opinion of Every Time I Die because they are unequivocally excellent. These dudes have been performing for almost 20 years and their energy on stage is so infectious you feel like you want to set things on fire just for the hell of it. On top of that, Every Time I Die goes from ecstatic, twitchy songs like “Bored Stiff” to the dark and moody “Moor” then throw in a cover of Nirvana's “Tourette’s” for good measure. Every Time I Die have carved out a special niche that barely exists for bands who have lasted this long. They’re still fantastic, they’re stellar live, and they’re not dicks about anything.
                                                                                New Found Glory (Sanchez/2016)
​New Found Glory - 2:20 pm
New Found Glory is one of the biggest pop punk bands of the influential early 2000s. The first show I ever saw, New Found Glory opened for Blink 182 in 2002 when they had just released their self titled album New Found Glory. Not a lot has changed in those 14 years. New Found Glory still deliver powerhouse pop punk filled with sentiments and flying jump kicks. Bassist Ian Grushka still makes goofy faces for the camera and generally exists to be a less shitty Fat Mike. Singer Jordan Pundik is a one man power plant, and Cyrus Bolooki and Chad Gilbert bring it all together. After seeing New Found Glory at Warped Tour, I think they’ve officially reached punk rock father status. They are the MxPx and The Descendents for millennials. New Found Glory are steadfast, lighthearted, and definitely still kicking.
                                                                                                                                                                Masked Intruder (Sanchez/2016)
​Masked Intruder - 3:40 pm
So, Masked Intruder is just completely adorable. The Wisconsin quartet played the Poseidon stage in the Blossom amphitheater and brought the brightest pop punk I’ve ever heard. They have outfits like they’re preparing for a kid’s TV show. Their logos look like the cute versions of Garbage Pale Kids. All of the members wear different colored masks and matching guitars (refer to the pictures or continue reading my flowery description). Plus, they have Officer Bradford, a no-nonsense cop who scowls, pogos in the crowd, and occasionally hits the members.  Give these dudes a couple years and they will have reached the most crossover status we’ve ever seen. Blink 182 was in American Pie? These dudes are going to be in everything.
                                                                                    Waterparks (Sanchez/2016)
​Waterparks - 4:40 pm
I caught Waterparks out of curiosity because I’ve heard them talked about in such vague ways that you know they’re 17. What I saw tore me through the fabric of reality. These kids were teen magazine model attractive, could play instruments, and had stage presence. I apologize if they’re not actually 17, but I felt like I needed to ask consent before photographing them. I know these guys are probably a real band, but the screaming female teen fans, and the fact that lead singer Awsten Knight is so popular on social media he’s basically a meme made me feel like I was on a set up for a reality show.
​Chelsea Grin - 4:45 pm
I don’t know why I felt like I had to see Chelsea Grin on the Monster stage. I haven’t listened to Chelsea Grin in years and you can basically find better brutal pig squeals if you listen to any old Despised Icon, but I did have a serious deficit of guttural growls for my daily filling. Chelsea Grin are fun if you love breakdowns and casual misogynistic images of women. Oh, and circle pits. They’re great for that too.
 
Four Year Strong - 4:50 pm
This was a busy time of day for bands. I ditched Chelsea Grin to catch some Four Year Strong, because those guys are just too fun to miss if they’re in your general proximity. Four Year Strong are Warped Tour veterans, but they still get a huge crowd of new comers watching them and possibly the highest number of crowd surfers I saw for the day.  
                                                                                               Yellowcard (Sanchez/2016)
​Yellowcard - 5:20 pm
Yellowcard seemed like they were still Yellowcard, except Cyrus Bolooki from New Found Glory was their drummer. You’re telling me I get to watch Cyrus drum twice in one day? Yellowcard can take a bus. As far as I’m concerned they’re backup for Cyrus’s solo drum project. But, either way the best thing about Yellowcard is that the violinist is clearly the star. They performed well, like a long time touring act should, but their performance left me lukewarm, but that’s true for many bands of that era playing Warped Tour. Although lead singer Ryan Key bumped into Ryan Mendez and knocked his guitar out of tune so he jumped in the crowd to cover it up. Professional move, man.
                                                                                         Teenage Bottlerocket (Sanchez/2016)
​Teenage Bottlerocket - 5:40 pm
I’d never seen Teenage Bottlerocket before, but once I caught them in the pavilion I was sad I had missed out before. The quartet is an irreverent, fun, straight up punk band. I haven’t been able to stop listening to them since seeing them live and I hope to never be without them again. 
Gideon - 5:45 pm
I only wanted to catch Gideon for this joke I tweeted at the band a couple days earlier: “Gideon is a name that sounds like they should be on a playground with kids like Carson and Davis. But, you know, more brutal.”
That’s a pretty accurate descriptor for Gideon. Hard as hell, but at the center it doesn’t sound like much more than a bunch of dudes saying tough epithets. But, hey man, if you like super aggro deathcore, get on some Gideon.
                                                                                                                    Sum 41 (Sanchez/2016)
​Sum 41 - 6:20 pm
For the duration of hundreds of shows, I somehow managed to never see Sum 41 when I was a kid. Within their first three songs, they played a new song, which honestly sounds hard as fuck. I’m admittedly sick of the All Killer No Filler hits and haven’t enjoyed anything since. Seeing the classic quartet, with original bassist Dave Baksh, was at least novel and Derek Whibley looks considerably better after his battle with substance addiction, but as an adult I no longer understood the appeal. But, Sum 41’s new album will be out this autumn and maybe I’ll change my tune.
​Old Wounds - 6:25 pm
I specifically left Sum 41, a band I listened to excessively when I was 13, to check out Old Wounds. The band is chugging, but spastic like a playlist of greatest hits from Botch with a splash of Crass wrapped in a new school body. If that description hasn’t sold you on the band, you have no taste and I don’t know why you’ve read until the end of this article. 

At the end of the day, the 2016 tour was the most fun I've ever had at a Vans Warped Tour; and this isn't my first rodeo. The line up had a classic mix of new, old, weird surprises, comfortable favorites, and enough angsty teen fever to choke a moose. I had a blast and I hope everyone else in attendance did too. My only recommendation to any festival goer is this: plan ahead and for god's sake enjoy yourself. There's music all around you. Get off of your ass and watch it.