Note: For part II, click here.
Now celebrating it’s 20th anniversary, the Vans Warped Tour is the longest-running touring festival in North America and probably one of the largest too. In fact for fans of punk, metal, hardcore, ska and the other genres that pepper the lineup each year, the tour has become almost synonymous with summer. The beauty of Warped is in the variety of music. If you’re doing Warped “right,” you don’t just check out the bigger-name bands that you’re familiar with and you don’t stick to bands that fall within some narrow definition of your favorite musical genre. Instead, you branch out and discover cool new artists that you’d never heard of or considered listening to. With that in mind, I’m happy to be bringing Warped to Metal Insider once again this year–featuring some bands that might not otherwise be found on this site. I hope as you read this first half of our recap of Warped you’ll keep an open mind to these bands and give them a chance. If what you read and see below peaks your interest, you can check out this year’s lineup and the remaining dates left on the tour, which continues until 8/03.
I was fortunate to once again find myself in the position of covering Warped for Metal Insider at its stop just outside of Indianapolis, in Noblesville, IN on July 3rd. Unlike last year’s trip to this stop on the tour (see Parts I and II from last year), I decided it was probably not a good idea to make the 5-hour drive from Nashville on the same day as the tour (this proved to be a good decision)–after all, it’s good to be well-rested when facing a lineup that boasts more than 60 bands. As usual, this lineup features plenty of great metal bands, as you may have seen in our guide to this year’s Warped lineup including Parkway Drive, Every Time I Die, Born of Osiris, Chelsea Grin, The Devil Wears Prada, The Ghost Inside, and more. This year, the many bands on the tour are divided amongst nine different stages and as with every year, the set times for each stage are randomly chosen each morning of the tour. I’ve generally had good luck with set times for my favorites not being in conflict with one another in the past, but this year it seemed more difficult to catch everyone I wanted to see–perhaps the result of there being so many bands worth seeing this year.
My adventures began at press check-in, where I was informed that New England post-hardcore band, Vanna was opening up the main stage for this date, instead of being on the smaller Monster Energy stage that they are assigned to for much of the tour. While I’ve seen these guys numerous times back in and around my hometown of Portland, Maine, I couldn’t turn down the chance to see them playing outside of their local scene. Taking the stage to “Year of the Rat,” from their 2013 release, they also took the opportunity to play two new tracks from their latest release and Pure Noise Records debut, VOID, including “Piss Up a Rope” and “Digging.” Vanna definitely made use of the additional room this bigger stage provided, with frontman David Muise leaping around the stage during their set. It can be hard opening the main stage, especially with a set starting just 20 minutes after the gates open, but Vanna were up for the challenge and while the crowd may have begun as one or two hundred kids, its numbers multiplied many times over before the end of their set as more and more passers by were drawn in by the band’s energetic performance.
Atlanta, GA’s self-described “party-metal” band, Attila were up next on the Monster Energy stage. These guys, love them or hate them, have been attracting enormous crowds throughout the tour. And while I know they tend to attract mixed reactions from the metal community, the sheer size of the crowds that these southern gentlemen are playing for each day, and the numbers of kids that are potentially being turned on to heavy music cannot be downplayed or ignored. Sporting a pink-dyed stripe down the middle of his hair, frontman Christopher “Fronz” Fronzak, took to the stage grinning from ear to ear, and launched into the track “Callout,” off of their latest release About That Life. This was an interesting song choice, for as the title suggests, the song calls out several bands including the band For Today, who are also on Warped right now. Attila followed this song with several more songs, including “Middle Fingers Up,” “Rage,” and “Payback.” Despite being so early in the day, the audience didn’t hesitate to mosh, crowd surfing in such large numbers that the other photographers and I were asked to leave the photo-pit for safety reasons at the start of the third song.
While I am admittedly not averse to Attila, I decided not to stick around, and instead took this opportunity to sprint back over to the main stages to catch Long Island hardcore act, Stray from the Path, who had started their set shortly after Attila’s began. I got there in time to catch their third song, “Negative and Violent” from the photo pit and stuck around to hear the rest of their performance. Frontman Drew York was spot-on as usual, belting out every pissed-off word, often with the assistance of the enthusiastic crowd. Stray From The Path played several tracks from their latest release, Anonymous, including “Badge & A Bullet” and “Black Friday,” but also played several of their older fan-favorites, including the song, “Damien.”
Afterwards I made use of some downtime to walk around and check out the various vendors at the tour before heading back over to the Monster Energy stage for Born of Osiris. Led by frontman Ronnie Canizaro, these Chicago-natives put on a deliciously heavy set of synth-infused metal that was truly fun to watch. They kicked things off with the track “Divergency” from their latest release, Tomorrow We Die Alive. As a longtime fan of the band, I was surprised when they immediately followed this newer song with one of their classic older tracks, “Abstract Art,” and even more so when they later played another old fan-favorite “Bow Down.” Clearly BOO are trying to please all of their fans–both old and new–at Warped, and if the amount of kids going nuts in the crowd is any metric for that, then it seems to be working. If you haven’t seen Born of Osiris before, they’re one of those bands where every member of the band is fun to watch–never a dull moment, these guys are always moving. On this day I think keyboardist/backing vocalist Joe Buras, and bassist David Darocha tied at being the most entertaining–with Buras leaping off the stage at one point and climing up into the crowd, and Darocha’s frequent windmill head-banging with eyes rolled back into his head as if possessed.
I stuck around the Monster Energy stage to catch another band from Illinois, The Color Morale, who were up next. I was glad to finally get the chance to see these guys live–I’ve been meaning to catch them for quite some time now. The band started off their set with the tracks “Smoke and Mirrors,” “Learned Behavior,” and “Burn Victims” off of their 2013 release, Know Hope. I’ve never really been a huge fan of the whole Christian metal scene, but I’ll give The Color Morale credit for not getting all “preachy.” Frontman Garrett Rapp was constantly in motion, pausing every now and then at a stage riser to bellow out a few lines before moving again. Meanwhile, guitarist/backing vocalist Aaron Saunders provided further entertainment, making some of the most metal-looking facial expressions that I’ve ever seen while delivering his vocals. Halfway into their set, the band pulled out a new song, “Outer Demons,” from their upcoming Fearless Records debut due out in September this year.
After another break, and a free energy drink in the shade offered by the Monster Energy Lounge, I headed over to the Electric Soul main stage to catch The Devil Wears Prada. I’d seen this band twice in the past seven months prior to this date, but I couldn’t resist checking out their ridiculously high-energy set once again. In my many experiences seeing these guys live, I’ve found frontman Mike Hranica to have a stage presence that is only rivaled perhaps by the likes of Jason Butler of letlive. Today was no exception, with Hranica treating the stage like his playground, climbing on speaker cabinets, fooling around with the band’s stage scrims–at one point standing behind one and singing through it with his microphone held on the opposite side of the cloth–and leaping around from riser to riser on the stage. Both Hranica and guitarist/backing vocalist Jeremy DePoyster were flawless, despite the inevitable wear and tear of being on Warped for nearly a month by this point. Their set was greeted by some of the loudest audience participation that I saw that day, with the eager crowd singing along to every song. Although TDWP has been on Warped before, the band decided to make things a bit more special this year in honor of the group’s upcoming tenth anniversary, and allowed fans the chance to submit set lists of the songs from their different releases that they wanted to hear on Warped. This led to a set that features a lot of older fan-favorites like “Danger: Wildman,” “Reptar, King of the Ozone,” and “Assistant to the Regional Manager,” as well as newer songs, “War” and “Sailor’s Prayer.”
Normally that would be a hard set to follow, but Australia’s finest, Parkway Drive, were up next on the adjacent Kia Soul mainstage. This five-man metalcore outfit had only just hopped onto Warped the day before, so it was cool to get to see them while they were still fresh from having some time off. Vocalist Winston McCall is definitely one of the happiest looking frontmen that I’ve ever seen–he’s the only vocalist that I know of who can can belt out some of the lowest growls and highest screams while wearing a huge smile. Their set began with the track “Wild Eyes” off of their latest release, Atlas. As they began their second song, “Sleepwalker,” Winston called for the crowd to form a circle-pit. I guess he wasn’t satisfied with the response, because only 10 seconds into the song he stopped the music and, chuckling, teased them on their lack of participation, saying, “There are more than a thousand of you here right now, why are there only twenty of you in that circle pit?” The audience seemed to concede that he had a valid point–and responded by widening the pit as the song kicked back in. They went on to play several more songs, including “Home is For The Heartless” and “Deliver Me,” and ended on the track “Carrion,” from their 2007’s Horizons.
The day wasn’t even half over with yet and I’d already seen enough bands to make the trip worthwhile! Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of the recap, featuring photos of Chelsea Grin, Every Time I Die, The Ghost Inside, Beartooth, I, The Breather, and more!
Check out photos from all the bands mentioned above in the gallery below. You can see more of Nate’s work by following his Facebook page.