The Vans Warped Tour, created by Kevin Lyman and company, is one of the longest-running tour festivals within North America. For me, it is one of the most anticipated days of the year, and the tour travelled to Atlanta’s Aarons Amphitheatre at Lakewood on July 2. Throughout the day, my experience ranged from positive to negative, ultimately creating another great memory that I would hold onto forever. Check out my list of the 10 must-see bands that are on this year’s Vans Warped Tour.
The Amity Affliction
There are few hardcore anthems as memorable as The Amity Affliction’s best song “Don’t Lean On Me.” The Australian metalcore band describes their music as aggressive, catchy, urgent, and diverse on their biography. With each album the band releases, I notice how they push themselves to a completely new level of musicality. I have seen this through the advancements of their lyrical content. Watching them at Warped Tour reminded me of the first time I listened to them, sending chills up my spine due because I connected to their songs. Their lyrics aren’t meaningless, but are rather the thoughts that tend to haunt everyone. In their song “Cave In,” listeners are able to relate to the line, “We’re all facing demons in life, and we’re all finding ourselves amidst the struggles of our life. You’re not alone.” The Amity Affliction deeply cares for all of their fans and have changed lives through their songs. Under their YouTube videos, the comment section is flooded with personal testimonies.
The Wonder Years
Led by Dan “Soupy” Campbell and notorious for giving themselves over to suburbia (as mentioned in their song “Came Out Swinging”), The Wonder Years have swept across America with grace. They are Warped Tour veterans who gather a large crowd at each performance. It was amazing to see how many fans were excited to meet lead singer Campbell at the signing booth. At Warped Tour, certain bands have time slots during the course of the day to sign merchandise. The band was even able to have a set at the acoustic basement stage under the name Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties. The Wonder Years came out swinging from Philadelphia and do not plan on returning until they have toured the entire world. On their tumblr page, they shared“We’re never going to forget every time a crowd sang along to a song we wrote in our parent’s house halfway across the world.”
In 2014, these Welsh natives were crowned the Best British Newcomer by “Kerrang!,” a UK-based rock music magazine. They have consistently proven themselves to listeners since they released ¨Wishful Thinking¨ in early 2014. Their upcoming album “Life’s Not Out To Get You” comes out on August 14, 2015. At Warped Tour, lead singer Ben Barlow belted out the lyrics during their entire performance while Danny Washington kept the band moving along with his drumming skills.
As soon as I got to the venue and waited in line to purchase a ticket, I was approached by an eager street representative for a one-man band named Buttons (Hutton Baird) to purchase his latest CD. Despite being compared to Front Porch Step, Never Shout Never, and Into It. Over It, Buttons is within his own realm. At Warped Tour, he walked around to meet concertgoers as he spoke humbly about his music endeavors and how thankful he is for being able to play at Warped all summer. His latest album “Glimpse the Unthinkable” delves into his story of defeating his demons, addiction, and personal struggles. “I tried to drown my feelings and my demons. I found out they can swim much better than me” is one of many great lines from Buttons. Through his trek of following Warped Tour, he was able to sell 300 CDs per venue according to himself and meet those who support him.
Before starting the band Attila, lead singer Chris Fronzak’s (Fronz) face notable from MTV reality show “MADE,” where he wanted to be made a model. Being that the band started in Atlanta, they made sure concertgoers got the best performance from their homeboys. Named after Attila the Hun, a king who viciously conquered great masses of land, the members of Attila have an overall personality of marching to their own beat. They have toured with Arsonists Get All The Girls, Oceano, Chelsea Grin and Emmure. The hardcore quartet are one of the most interesting bands to watch because they put on one hell of a show. At their shows Fronz never fails to call out people to crowd surf, the band constantly interacts with the crowd, and the wall of death is a thrilling experience. The crowd surfing action involves lifting a person into the air while passing them around, but the wall of death is when the crowd divides in half, only to crash into each other.
After lead singer Caleb Shomo departed from metalcore band Attack Attack!, he started Beartooth. Their stage presence is the most interactive I have ever seen as Shomo passes the mic to those who crowd surf towards the front to scream along. When watching them perform, everything feels personal and connected. Their lyrics are full of personal testimonies of battling mental illness, including depression, and not conforming to what the world wants you to be. With only one studio album under their belt, Beartooth has created a large fanbase. This band has been bending power chords, starting a revolution of overcoming mental illness and breaking things onstage since 2012.
The original Illinois Sad Boys carry on the legacy of keeping pop punk alive for generations to come. They were signed to Rise Records in December 2014, creating five EPs and a split EP with Neck Deep. This entire summer, they have been giving first tastes of their debut album “Copacetic,” which will be released July 31.
I Killed The Prom Queen
Rarely do you hear of a band touring Warped Tour for the first time that puts on an effortless show. IKTPQ has toured with Parkway Drive, Motionless In White, Marmozets and Northlane. I was impressed with the unclean vocals (where the vocalist screams) of Jamie Hope during the heavy breakdowns. IKTPQ continues to prove that the metalcore scene is not disappearing off the radar for a while.
Being As An Ocean
There is no need to look any further for a band that screams the most heartfelt ballads, yet evokes gratitude towards the universe in their listeners. This band has successfully experimented with post-hardcore music. With songs such as “Grace, Teach Us What We Lack,” “The Hardest Part Is Forgetting Those You Swore You Would Never Forget” and “Sins Of The Father,” the titles alone show it is easy to find a personal connection to the music.
Horst Christian Simco, stage name Riff Raff, is an American rapper who fans don’t take too seriously due his pink hair and diamond covered teeth. It was a very unconventional idea to bring him along for this tour because he’s a rapper, and most of the music is metal and rock. Many online fans were upset with Warped Tour’s creator Kevin Lyman for including Riff Raff in the lineup. His musical content focuses on lyrics that have no true substance but could provide humor to the listeners, including the line, “Show you how to be the man, how to be the boss. How to come through with seven coats of gloss.” At Warped, Riff Raff was quite confident during the entire set as concertgoers belted out all of his lyrics, despite his songs not having any meaning.