With over ninety bands performing over forty day-long, festival-style tour dates across the entire country this summer, Warped Tour has evolved into a well-oiled machine in its eighteen-year existence. It’s no secret that it’s the longest running tour, however, the intricacies of what goes into keeping it that way are much more than a massive fan supported fluke. This is our review of the Pomona stop of the 2012 Vans Warped Tour
Another year, another new generation of music appreciators. While there is a growing stigma that Warped is primarily for youth at a High School age, through really experiencing all that the Tour has to offer it becomes clear that the reality of the situation is Warped Tour transcends age groups and a finite target audience. Kids as young as six-months old rock out from their strollers. For many teenagers decked out in the height of punk, goth, or alternative fashions, this is their first Warped Tour and they could not be more excited about it. Men and woman in their 30s and 40s don their favorite concert T-shirts and wander from stage to stage in anticipation of their favorite bands. They are not here with their kids, but their own musical appreciation. In fact, one couple we spoke with who had to get a baby sitter just to attend Warped Tour.
Founder Kevin Lyman summons a Warped Tour committee together, consisting of long time contributors, musicians, and sponsors, once a year. Like old timer punk rock knights of the round table, they discus methods of improving the nationwide tour that spans nearly three months. For long time attendees, these improvements are obvious.
The addition of many non-profits is a classy touch to a tour where space limitations have never been a problem, considering Warped is usually held in an expansive parking lot. All of the punk culture associated activist groups are present, including animal rights and youth outreach, as well as new-school anti-bullying and non-smoking advocates. Warped sponsors are giving away T-shirts, stickers, and various swag like it’s going out of style. Then there are the door prizes, cars, guitars, drums sets, headphones and more. Keep-a-breast is back, taking molds of rockstar’s boobies and then selling them to crazed fans for charity. The air conditioned Trojan free condom booth is an obvious destination. Inflatable slip-and-slides and bounce houses become a vital attribute in keeping one’s mind off the triple digit heat. The Monster Energy Drink truck, which graciously pumps its beverages into any youth willing to wait in the monster of a line, is a welcome addition under such exhausting circumstances.
There is an acoustic stage this year, much to the rapture of musicians young and old. A segmented canopy, complete with couches, carpet, and generators, is set up for music practice. Musicians like the Bayside band members are actually teaching kids how to play guitar, bass, and drums; it is a beautiful sight. Also, notably, a “waiting area” for parents, which just seems like good sense.
Since band time slots are still determined just hours before doors open, many of the earliest performers, such as political minded punk rock legends Anti-Flag, didn’t get to attract the type of crowd they normally might. This, in addition to some very last minute set swaps, is the main attribute in making Warped the most chaotic tour around.
Pop-punk is the phrase of choice for 2012 headlining bands. Fans of the lyrically witty and identifiable brand of slower and cuter punk rock had rightful reason to rejoice at this year’s Warped Tour considering the who’s who of pop-punk line-up. The aforementioned Bayside, for instance, sticks to their roots and play all of their up-tempo fan favorites with one or two newer songs peppered in. This seemed to be the time honored trend of many of the bands with a larger repertoire such as pop-punk legends Taking Back Sunday, All Time Low, New Found Glory, Mayday Parade, Yellowcard; all of whom gave over-the-top performances in which they left everything on the stage.
While following the same formula, many of the harder acts, such as the post-hardcore Vanna, deathcore hard rockers Born of Osiris, shock rock metal Vampires Everythere! and experimental metal iwrestledabearonce played their most powerful, high energy, and loudest songs while wiping the crowd into a 2-step frenzy.
The alternative style hip-hop infused Champagne Champage, rapper and producer G-Eazy, and dub loving veterans The Constellations were a big hit with the Warped rocker crowd. It’s the addition of eclectic bands such as these which truly allows Warped to adhere to the adage: “something for everyone.”
The highlight performances of the day were from The Used, Senses Fail and Dead Sara, who drew massive crowds around the main stage, even engulfing the neighboring stages. The inevitable emergence of circle pits and the singer provoked “wall of death” left dirt-filled smiles on fan’s pit-faring faces. With debatably the largest fan bases local to the LA area, all bands performed sets catering to favorite songs and their biggest hits. As a result, the crowds seemed genuinely pleased.
“If they open with a song from their new album, I am out of here.” One fan remarked while waiting for The Used to begin. He was later spotted singing along passionately to their closer, “Take it Away.”
Honorable mention goes to bands that played their hearts out with the tenacity and talent of the best of them. Bands like Funeral Party, Four Years Strong, Every Time I Die, Pierce the Veil, Motionless in White, Polar Bear Club, We the Kings and every other band who gave up their summer to entertain kids all over the US.
Another year, another orgy of chaos where fans and bands clash in sun burn inductive climates. As the sentient organism that is Warped Tour continues to evolve and grow year after year, we here at MXDWN could not be more excited about the coming changes, the new bands, and the next generation of fans. Bring ‘em on.