Ah, Warped Tour… every teenage scenester’s festival of choice. A sensory overload in the oft-blistering heat, as well as a bit of a surreal experience as it is sometimes difficult to believe one is seeing so many exceptional bands in one day.
I began by checking out MTV darling Shwayze, accompanied by the ever-greasy Cisco Adler at the Hurley.com stage. The two work well together, psyching up the crowd with their cheesy, yet fun summer-friendly tunes. The hip-hoppers had an obvious backing track for their sung vocals, but the audience didn’t seem to mind. They cheered and sang along with every song despite the juvenile subject matter. Every song they performed was about, as the boys put it themselves “drinkin’, fuckin’ and weed!” I couldn’t bring myself to stay for the rest of their set, as truly stupid lyrics annoy me
At the MySpace tent, I managed to catch a couple songs in Anberlin’s acoustic set. For a Christian band, they show no preachy messages in their music and lead singer Stephen Christian has a truly beautiful voice. I’m torn on the idea of having acoustic sets in the MySpace tent as being a good one or a bad one. While the small, intimate, and toned-down setting is a nice change, the tent itself is much to small for most concertgoers to catch much more than a small earful of these sets.
America’s beloved new sex-kitten (and Gym Class Heroes’s Travis McCoy’s girlfriend) Katy Perry emerged onstage to the intro of Heart’s “Barracuda,” and did not disappoint. Her energetic and entertaining stage demeanor was kept up throughout her entire set, including the bit where she insisted that it was so hot, that everyone should take off an article of clothing, Perry herself humorously shedding a shoe. On her recordings, Perry’s vocals tend to have a lot of production behind them, making me fear that her vocals could not deliver. I was very glad to hear the strong, pretty voice she had to offer us, with no backing track to be heard. The crowd for her set was fairly calm, but still clearly enjoying her performance, as she pranced her way through her songs, including “One of the Boys,” “You Can’t Afford Me,” and “Ur So Gay,” even strapping on a guitar for a few of the songs.
Schlepping back to the Route 66 stage, I caught ska legends Reel Big Fish. Being one of the oldest bands on the Warped Tour ticked, I was surprised to see that they had an even bigger crowd than the recently radio-friendly Gym Class Heroes and Katy Perry. They prove that they’re seasoned pros, tackling some wonderful harmonies. Spanning their catalog from “Everything Sucks” to “Suburban Rhythm,” their set is fantastically entertaining, peppering their onstage banter with quotes such as “I’m so rich! I was on MTV one time!” RBF is definitely a band that’s showing these youngsters how it’s done.
Now, I know you had already gotten a review of Chicago rockers The Academy Is… from our Kansas City Warped Tour coverage, but I decided I needed to see them for myself. TAI does not need to take lessons from RBF. They know how to play a show and work a crowd, playing as much for the audience as they do for themselves. Opening the set with “Neighbors” and going into this Popwrecker’s personal favorite “Slow Down” frontman William Beckett is all over the stage, wielding his microphone stand like a weapon.
His vocals are impressive and clear as a bell, sounding better than they do on the band’s studio albums. Going into “Big Bang” and “Black Mamba” the whole audience is singing along as guitarist Michael Guy Chislett demonstrates his formidable guitar chops. Bassist Adam Siska, or as Beckett refers to him “Sisky Business” is almost a match for the svelte singer’s onstage manner. I was grateful that the band was awarded an extra 10 minutes for their set and cheered with the rest as they closed the set with “Almost Home.”
Staying at the Route 66 stage and pushing my way forward, I snagged a front and center position for one of my most highly anticipated bands, Motion City Soundtrack. Being a Warped Tour virgin, and not using my head, I realized this was a bad idea. The crowd rushed the stage the moment the band began to play their opening number “Attractive Today” and I was continuously assaulted by crowd surfers for the entirety of their set. Although, I wasn’t exactly able to see them most of the time, the band did not disappoint, playing songs spanning all three of their studio albums. From “The Future Freaks Me Out” and “My Favorite Accident,” to “Everything Is Alright” and “Broken Heart,” every song was completely en pointe.
Finally, I caught the up and coming Ludo closing the show at the Hurley.com stage. Earlier in the day the band and I sat down for some witty banter. As a matter of fact, attempting to interview these St. Louis boys gives you nothing but an exchange of witty banter. This year is their first time being on Warped Tour for longer than a week and they are absolutely loving it.
Frontman Andrew Volpe is the mouthpiece for the most part, saying, “This is the best tour ever. We get food, shows, a bus—it’s a better experience than we’ve ever had before.” The band, named for the loveable yeti-like character from ‘80s cult classic Labyrinth want their music to be “a home for runaway teens.” Volpe says, “We have this whole idea of our music entertaining people without making them stupider. But I think we’re failing. I watch people walk away after our shows just looking dumb.” He’s kidding of course… I think.
Although, keyboardist Tim Convy and bassist Marshall Fanciullo seem to be nodding in agreement. Volpe continues, “We get to be on the road with all these great bands: Reel Big Fish; Say Anything,” the rest of the band begins adding their favorites, including Oreskaband, Relient K, Story of the Year, Dr. Manhattan and The Aggrolytes. Convy picks up where he leaves off, “but we tend to listen to as little rock as possible in our down-time — a lot of old, acoustic stuff, trying t balance everything out.” When queried about their greatest moment as a band together, the band answers jokingly, “This right here. In this room. Doing this interview. With you.” As I laugh Convy adds in, “getting to do this…cool tours, with touring getting easier. We couldn’t ask for more.”
But Fanciullo seems to somewhat disagree. “I think you should recycle: glass; plastic; aluminum.”
“What about paper?” Volpe interjects.
“Nah. Fuck paper.”
Ludo’s set is just as entertaining as the one-on-five time I got to spend with them. The relatively young band has the stage presence of a group that has been around for much longer. Volpe’s vocals are fantastic, dripping with wit. Convy uses the entire stage when he’s not anchored to his keys, which seems to be as often as he can get away with. Their creative song-writing is comparable to Blue Album-era Weezer combined with Harvey Danger, including delectable lyrics such as, “You taste good tonight.”
If you combine 4-part harmonies with a sense of humor, you’re good to go in my book, and Ludo does just that. The 5 piece closes the show with a cover of Faith No More’s “Epic,” and while it was flawless, I wonder if it was the right choice for the crowd at Warped Tour. Although there were a few people here and there rocking the hell out, most of the younger, emo-concious listeners seemed confused, clearly not recognizing the tune.
I can’t lie. I was glad to leave when Warped Tour wrapped up for the day. I was hot, sweaty, tired, hungry, and overloaded with everything I had just seen, heard, and experienced. While festivals are a great idea, giving music fans the opportunity to catch so many of their favorite bands in one day, it’s definitely not something I, personally, would go for on a regular basis. I prefer evening breezes and longer sets to the sweltering mid-day sun and 30 minute previews that Warped Tour gives us.
Written by: Sara Bellum
Filed under: concerts, interview with | Tagged: Adam Siska, anberlin, andrew volpe, cisco adler, cover whore, dr. manhattan and the aggrolytes, faith no more, Gym Class Heroes, harvey danger, heart, katy perry, ludo, marshall fanciullo, michael guy chislett, motion city soundtrack, oreskaband, Reel Big Fish, relient k, sara bellum, say anything, shwayze, stephen christian, Story of the Year, The Academy Is, tim convy, Travis McCoy, warped tour, weezer, William Beckett | 1 Comment »