Our Warped Tour exploits were unfortunately cut short and all plans were changed last minute due to that dreaded lurgy that’s been going around. We did manage to get some of the team to infiltrate Warped and rock out. Here’s the review below of what we managed to see.
Vans Warped Tour originates in America, but in recent years, has moshed its way over to the UK. Boasting an impressive two day line-up, including Rise Against, Yellowcard, Chiodos, and While She Sleeps amongst others, London’s Alexandra Palace soon filled up with an eager crowd.
The day opened with two lines, a general admission line, and one for people who wanted to donate either £5 or 3 cans to the Islington Food Bank in exchange for early and quicker entry to the venue.
There were attractions like a ramp for both skaters and BMXers to showcase their skills, where Zack Shaw, inventor of loads of BMX moves, and Sam Beckit, the legendary skater, shredded on the custom built skate pipe showing off just why they are celebrities in the extreme sporting world. There was also a merch village, which included stalls from huge labels like Fearless Records, as well as charities like To Write Love On Her Arms, and Keep a Breast.
The main stage area was split into two sections, the East and West stages. As one band finishes playing the East stage, the next band start playing the West stage whilst the East stage is prepared for the next band.
The main stage opened with Attila (7/10), who started their set with a long rap intro to greet the eager crowd. The second the band came onstage, the first wall of death of the day erupted, consuming the crowd – and they were loving it. As the set progressed, the audience were either running for the hills, or were dragged into the riot, and the band were killing the stage. With a tight musical performance, and incredible lung capacity displayed from screamer/rapper Chris, the band’s set was phenomenal.
Crossfaith (7/10) entered the east stage, with the crowd going mental waiting as the long intro to their set got them all hyped. With a complex light show, and electronic drops, the crowd were sent into a frenzy. Crossfaith got the crowd on their feet through their whole set, and everyone was moving in the pits.
With no let-up, The Wonder Years (6/10) started in the west stage, and the audience sprinted over to get a view of the pop punkers. Musically, the band showed off just why they belonged on the main stage, although with bad setup, you missed some of the sound, like the snare. It was toned down in comparison to the other sets, and with clever origination of the event there was no break for the audience and they didn’t really respond. Their singer sounded out of breath halfway though the set, and had trouble holding notes. After a motivation speech about how to never give up, talking about the past of the band, they went into the song The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves. Even sounding completely breathless the lead singer managed to keep jumping everywhere, while the rest of the band just nodded their heads along, seeming to lack the will.
We Came As Romans (8/10) set the stage for a fantastic set with their dramatic intro, making the crowd go crazy. They opened with the the track named after their new album, Taking Back Roots, and the crowd screamed in excitement. The band were so in sync they spat the same time the drummer hit the snare and the great set and crazy crowds couldn’t even stop wheelchair users from having a ball! The screamer dwarfed the other members in stage presence, as the clean vocals are a bit pitchy at places,and he had little stage presence. The band pulled off lots of stage tricks, with lots of strobe lighting and they put on the best show they possibly could, and the last song of their set was a constant mosh pit with fans giving it their all.
The Maine (7/10) came on next and filled the stage, with great audience interaction throughout their set, getting people on stage to sing the songs and having fun with the crowd. Playing songs from their new album and older songs, they got the crowd going as well as they could, but with no breaks between sets the crowd were getting a little tired. Although the band looked a little bit bored at certain parts of their set, they delivered, with the crowd going mental for them. Ending the set with their song Misery, the crowd couldn’t contain themselves, singing along at the top of their lungs, but the lead singer sound extremely out of breath – he couldn’t really hold a note for long, and his voice sounded dead and croaky. The band seemed to have a little trouble keeping the audience enthralled, as their stage presence was lacking.
Memphis May Fire (7/10) came on to a screaming crowd, and a pit opened the second the lead singer started to scream. With a huge drop the crowd went wild. Vocalist Matty killed the stage and can’t keep still, and every member of the band looked so into the performance. Matty didn’t sound breathless by the end of their set and his screams were top notch. The whole band put on such a performance and pulled off a spectacular light show, giving the crowd their energy back.
We Are The Fiction (6/10)‘s acoustic set was hard to hear unfortunately, as the vocalist wasn’t mic-ed up and it was in a crowded place at the Merch Market. But what was audible sounded fantastic, with a huge range, and the sheer passion in his voice was amazing. The playing of the guitar was decent but it wasn’t very clear because of the busy crowd. He got the small crowd to clap along with him, and the energy he put into his set was refreshing.
Chiodos (8/10)‘ intro made the floor shake and your ears ache. As the band took to the stage, the crowd were screaming in anticipation. Frontman Craig Owens came on with a powerful scream and the band put so much passion into their set. With lots of tricks like playing solos behind their head, this band truly showed off their talent as performers but the crowd got a bit out of hand and it seemed more like a riot than a mosh pit. Craig Owens knew how to get the crowd moving, and he jumped into the crowd and stood on it, while screaming the breakdown, making the crowd go mental. Craig Owens’ charisma is fantastic and the bands talent is unbelievable. The solos and bass riffs melted faces and the band put so much effort into their set thoughout, even headbanging in sync. The harmonies were fantastic as the band delivered the best set of the day so far. A rowing boat was formed with a hundred odd people rowing in time to the beat of the music, which drew a close to their set.
Yellowcard (7/10) came on stage, and the crowd weren’t overly loud, but that didn’t stop them as they opened with their set with a speech about tearing the place apart. The bass was overwhelming and overpowered everything else. The lead singer Ryan was very well and softly spoken, so when he asked for a mosh pit, it was rather odd, but it did happen. The violinist had so much energy, and when he wasn’t singing or playing, he was jumping around the stage getting the crowd going. We Are The In Crowd vocalist Tay Jardine even joined the band on stage in a song she featured on and the two voices pleasantly complemented each other. They finished their triumphant set with their biggest hit Ocean Avenue, but unfortunately the violin riff was overpowered by the other instruments, and wasn’t overly hearable.
With no gap at all, Billy Talent (7/10) came on and opened with a heavy guitar riff and a scream overpowering the departure of Yellowcard. The harmonies were impressive and the individual instruments were crystal clear, so you could hear all the instruments equally, unlike the Yellowcard set. The lead singer’s range was huge, as he sung both very deep notes, and cringe worthy high notes, which got the crowd roaring for more. The crowd are clapping along at the singers demand, and somehow still had energy to jump, mosh and sing along. The singer had fantastic charisma and the crowd did his bidding, even though they were most likely exhausted, and the entire room sung along with their final song.
Itch (7/10) came on the Jägermeister stage, and opens with his set with his newest single Homeless Romantic. He didn’t have an overly large crowd, but this didn’t phase him, and you could hear the passion in his voice as he rapped. The band were all in masks, including a very realistic crying baby mask, sported by the guitarist/synth player. As Billy Talents set ended, the crowd flooded in to watch Itch. A mosh pit breaks out at his command, even though he is now performing hip hop. Unlike his previous band, The King Blues, he still connects to his Punk Rock roots in performances. Jumping into the crowd, he performs his next song surrounded by fans, and he gets the audience to have a circle pit around him as he finished the song. After crawling back onto the stage, he got his male backing vocalist to dress up like a girl, and flirtatiously perform the next song with him. Itch ends his set with London Is Burning, and leaves the audience cheering for more.
Parkway Drive (8/10)‘s set got the crowd roaring and screaming, ready for Rise Against, and the pits were huge, the crowd could not keep still. Upon the lead screamer’s command, the crowd jumped and moshed to their hearts content. They had a fantastic light show, which beat in time with the drums, which was amazing as you got a full feel to how complex the drums were. The guitarist was crazy and couldn’t keep still. The crowd literally did anything asked of them, which after a whole day with no breaks in the music, was astonishing. For the last song the vocalist commanded the crowd to get over the barrier to create a human sea, and that is exactly what happened. With a spectacular finish of strobe lights, smoke and confetti, the crowd were left chanting for Rise Against.
Rise Against (8/10) instantly got the crowd involved with fist pumping and chanting. They got off to a rocky start as vocalist Tim fell over, but did a backwards roll, which he played off fantastically, but the fall messed with his singing. The band couldn’t keep still and the guitarist was all over the stage, doing the splits in mid air, and grinning like he was doing the best thing in the world. The crowd sung both Tim when asked and when they weren’t because they couldn’t help it, what with the band’s huge stage presence and killer songs.
Tim’s vocals were a bit sketchy at points, and he sometimes sounded extremely out of breath, but he managed to recover instantly and the crowd were so loud that you could hear them over the music. Everyone was crazy for Rise Against, climbing onto their friends’ shoulders to headbang and show their appreciation in the most simplistic form a rock fan can: with their fists in the air. Tim also showed off his vocal abilities in the song Survive by holding lengthy notes.
There were unfortunate technical problems and the sound cut out but they were back in seconds. The crowd went wild when they started playing Prayer of a Refugee, with cheers, claps, and fists in the air during the chorus while jumping and singing along. The light show was fantastic, really adding to the atmosphere. Tim got the audience to sing along with Ready To Fall, and the whole place did, and it was touching to see so many people from different backgrounds come together to enjoy a common interest.
Tim left his guitar for the song Give It All, and started climbing on stacks of speakers, and getting the crowd to finish his sentences, and to put their hands up, and all you could see was a sea of hands. With some technical difficulty at the start of Savior, Tim wound up singing a cappella, and you could hear the crowd singing along with him. During the song there was an instrumental breakdown, which lead into the pre chorus, then final chorus, and the crowd sung at the top of their lungs and formed a huge mosh pit to close the fantastic night.
Overall the day (Saturday) was a huge success, with great organisation and great bands playing. It was a day to remember, and it is definitely worth checking these bands out on their own tours, and going to the Vans Warped Tour next year.
Photography by Nadine Ballantyne.