EXCLUSIVE: Sergeant D’s WARPED TOUR 2015 review!!!! *click here*
If you’re not some kind of neckbeard basement shut-in (aka a MetalSucks commenter), one of the highlights of every summer is the Vans Warped Tour. It’s the single most successful package tour of all time, bringing out about half a million kids every year for over two decades, and it’s pretty much never not fun. I caught up with the tour on it’s final day in Seattle, and thought I’d share my highlights, lowlights and observations:
My boys in BEARTOOTH were fucking sick. The audio in this clip is pretty shot and doesn’t do them justice, but watch them live and it’s pretty obvious why they are Red Bull Records’ hottest band. Their songs are essentially punky hardcore with hooky pop choruses (this one in particular could easily be a DEMI LOVATO song). Couple that with awesome stage presence and you have yourself a winner– Caleb is an absurdly talented writer and could easily be one of those LA guys who writes songs for pop artists, but he’d rather be on Warped Tour screaming at people and I think that’s pretty rad.
This year marked the introduction of YouTubers to Warped, most notably everybody’s least favorite interviewer Bryan Stars and his blue Aeropostale hoodie (check out his insanely awkward interview with Tyler from ISSUES for some schadenfreude). Aside from doing daily “vlogs” (I shuddered a little when I typed that word), they also did a daily signing. Not sure why someone would want an autograph from some 25 year-old who has scene hair in 2015 and interviews Risecore bands, but The YouTubers had by far the longest line of any tent. This one was easily 100 yards long, maybe longer. I guess now Bryan Stars can treat himself to a new Aeropostale hoodie!
ESCAPE THE FATE
I was never a huge fan of ESCAPE THE FATE, but I have to admit that their set on Warped kinda converted me. They’re part of that whole LA scene that’s like half Hot Topic, half Affliction and half Jack Daniels, which 1000000% grosses me out, but I have to give these guys props where it’s due: they are fucking pros. Their guitarist Kevin Thrasher can play his ass off (not quite at Jacky Vincent ‘tr00 shred god’ status but close) and Craig Mabbit has some serious #hardrock stage presence. I’ll be putting them on my “rockin douchey vibes” playlist with PAPA ROACH, THOUSAND FOOT KRUTCH and FFDP.
I’ve been going to shows for about 25 years now, so watching bands ranks somewhere between getting circumcised and an IRS audit on things I enjoy doing. But I ended up watching every minute of ATTILA’s set and had a fucking blast. Obviously 99.9% of the virgin neckbeards reading this site won’t be able to see past their haircuts or whatever to appreciate it, but these guys had the kids eating up their every word which is obviously not the case for your wack blackened-post-ambient-shoegaze band that played to 4 people in a dive bar last week, so maybe you could learn a thing or two from him about showmanship. Fronz is gonna fly home and take his Porsche to the track while you sweat your ass off in your no-AC-having 1996 Burgundy Saturn on the way to community college so SUCK MY FUCK.
Look for NECK DEEP and STATE CHAMPS to be the next big things in pop-punk. The 2012 sad boy Tumblr shoegaze soft grunge bullshit is out, good old fashioned mallpunk is back, and I couldn’t be more happy about it. This song wouldn’t be out of place at all playing on the TV in American Eagle or Hollister, harkening back to the good old days when SUM 41, GOOD CHARLOTTE, and YELLOWCARD were mainstream-popular. Remember in like 2005 when you couldn’t go 10 feet without seeing some semi-trailer trash girl in a Bam shirt, bootcut Mudd jeans, and Etnies listening to FALL OUT BOY in her Oldsmobile Alero with a broken passenger window? Hell yeah you do, let’s bring that shit back.
THE BAD: TICKET SALES
From what I’m told, this year’s sales have been a bit rough. Obviously all you morons are going to rush to the comments section to say some dumb shit about how nobody in their right mind would pay to see these awful scene bands blah blah blah, but the truth is that it’s much more than any one band, and it affects your precious metal scene too: guitar-based music simply isn’t as popular and it used to be.
A lot of kids that might have been into punk, hardcore, metal, etc 5 or 10 years ago (ie, the weird kids) are getting into electronic music instead. There’s an equally robust community (so it gives them a place to fit in, like metal/-core do), but the barriers to entry are a lot lower: you don’t need 3-4 friends and a bunch of expensive gear and a practice space, you just need a pirated copy of Ableton or FL Studio. You might not care about the fate of Warped Tour, but this same dynamic is affecting metal. Guitar-based music isn’t going to disappear completely by any means, but it’s going to become more and more of a niche and your dumb band’s “”business plan”” had better take that into account.
I had a blast, but this felt like a transitional year for Warped, sort of like 2011 when we were kind of between trends. Soft grunge and the sad boi shit are clearly on their way out, but the Next Big Thing hasn’t replaced it yet so they relied on standbys like PIERCE THE VEIL, BLACK VEIL BRIDES and BLESSTHEFALL to do the heavy lifting. That said, I have a feeling next year is going to feel fresh and new and awesome, so I look forward to sweating my ass off again next year. Props to Kevin and the crew for yet another year in the can!