Hello, and welcome everyone to the fresh-squeezed new home of The Garden Statement! We’re excited to keep bringing you the best in emo music, news, interviews, and everything else, and with the PNC Bank Arts Center date of the tour right around the corner, we figured the best way to get started would be to celebrate the great American punk rock traveling circus. Here, you’ll find our roundtable discussion of what bands we’re looking forward to seeing on this year’s tour, some of our favorite Warped memories, and a few tips for all you first-timers (and veterans who need a refresher)!
Craig: A lot of people have taken to calling the Vans Warped Tour “Punk Rock Summer Camp”. Summer camp in my mind is marked by memories of doing fun and somewhat dumb things with my friends. With that said, what’s your favorite memory from Punk Rock Summer Camp?
Donald: There’s really so many to choose from here, and I feel like every year I go to Warped Tour I have a new cool thing to tell all my friends about. But since not picking one specific memory is lame, I’m going to recall an event from last year’s tour: after just watching letlive. play what Craig called the best set he’s ever seen at any Warped (and it wasn’t even close), he and I were watching Silverstein from letlive.’s merch tent. As I was looking around and sort of taking the whole day in, I noticed the band’s chaos-inducing frontman Jason Aalon Butler talking and taking pictures with fans. Craig and I quickly went over and took our turn, and came to discover that as angry and visceral Butler was onstage, he was completely peaceful and kind off of it. To me, that’s so cool. The fact that Warped Tour gives all of these bands the opportunity to interact with their fans in a way they simply aren’t capable of doing on a typical club tour run, and conversely, for the fans to be able to actually have a conversation with band members they’ve been dying to meet, is what makes it so special. It’s not just a concert; it’s a gathering place for people who have been affected in their own way by this music scene.
Madison: I think a lot of what makes Warped Tour so special is that people tend to go with all their friends, as opposed to concerts where you might just go with one or two other people. With that being said, one of my favorite parts of Warped every year is going to a set and unexpectedly running into a huge group of friends and being able to watch great music with even better company. The one specific moment that immediately comes to mind is from last year. Unknown to a lot of people, I am a HUGE Like Moths to Flames fan (the music is so freakin catchy, I can’t help it). I split up from my friend group and went to go watch it by myself. But, in true Warped Tour fashion, I ran into Don who also split up from the group to watch the set. We both totally geeked out, which is much more fun when you have someone to do it with.
Donald: Madison, I think of that moment every single time I listen to that song. I think that was a huge turning point for the better in our friendship.
Craig: Those are some great memories, guys. Like Don said, I have a lot of random memories that stick out, like dancing to Andrew WK’s set so hard in 2010 in the 100 degree heat that I almost melted my sneakers, or running into The Wonder Years’ Dan Campbell by accident at Warped Tour 2011 right after Suburbia came out, or watching Polar Bear Club’s set one year with Alan Day of Four Year Strong. But perhaps my favorite Warped Tour memory came in 2012, when, after watching Bayside perform in the amphitheatre at PNC, my girlfriend at the time and I sprinted all the way across the festival ground, running over people and tripping (like in a horror movie) over everything, to catch Fireworks on the distant and tiny Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands stage. We ended up getting there just as they started the second verse of Arrows, their opening track that year. Worth it.
Donald: Now, this year’s lineup, at first, was a disaster. Then, after a few announcements provided some old favorites and promising newcomers, things really rounded into form. There are a ton to choose from, but which band are you most excited to see on this year’s Warped Tour?
Craig: If you know pretty much anything about me, or even have met me in passing, it shouldn’t be particularly difficult to figure out who I am most excited to see this year. My favorite band of all time, Anberlin, is currently in their final year as band, are releasing a new album this month, and are playing Warped Tour this year. What’s more, they were unjustly given a spot on the Warheads stage instead of the mainstage, a fact that I’m sure has motivated them even more. No one is going to put on a better set during this tour than them.
Donald: I really only asked that question to set Craig up to talk about Anberlin some more. They deserve the attention, for sure. As for me, I’m going to be headed to the Main Stage to see one of the biggest bands in metal, The Devil Wears Prada, show all these young, immature, awful metalcore bands how it’s done. The band are using their Warped Tour set to celebrate their tenth year as a band, even though it’s actually next year, by playing a career-spanning set of songs that they may never play again (so if you want to see them play “Hey John, What’s Your Name Again?” one last time, you’re going to want to see them on this tour). The band’s live performance is always on-point, and singer Mike Hranica’s stomping-around-stage-like-he’s-plotting-to-destroy-the-world technique really translates well to the Warped Main Stage (for reference, this is their third run on the Main Stage). While Anberlin’s final run at Warped is certainly a high priority, The Devil Wears Prada will be a band that I refuse to miss.
Madison: The Story So Far is the obvious choice for me. They are THE rising pop punk band and after seeing them completely pack the entire pavilion at PNC Bank Arts Center, I am so stoked to see them play Mainstage. Very well-deserved. Their sets are always jampacked with energy and enthusiasm. It doesn’t hurt that screaming “Swords and Pens” along with Parker Cannon is the equivalent of a therapy session. Of course,though, I have to agree with Craig that the most meaningful set will be that of Anberlin. While it is very disappointed (and confusing) that they won’t be playing Main Stage as they begin their final round of tours as a band, there is no way you should miss their set.
Craig: Trivia question: name the only band on the tour with a number one single on the Alternative Rock charts? If you guessed Motionless in White and Falling In Reverse , you’d be wrong. If you guessed Anberlin, you’d be right. Yet those two bands I I listed before are somehow more deserving of a Mainstage spot than Anberlin.
Madison: I have no other words for that except disappointing. I understand that those bands are crowd-pleasers and a big hit with the tween crowd that seems to have taken over the tour, Anberlin has paid their dues and given fans an incredible discography. The fan base is definitely strong enough and large enough to support a Mainstage act. I just don’t get it.
Donald: We literally do not have enough space in this article for me to vent about how much I hate Falling In Reverse. I know the Main Stage is decided by who the target audience (that we’re all outside of, by the way) wants to see the most, but it’s heinous to me that Anberlin didn’t get a Main Stage slot this summer. Warped had a chance to pull a very classy move and slot them on the Main Stage, and opted for another summer full of Ronnie Radke’s ever-inflating ego poisoning young minds.
Donald: Anyway, as I sort of alluded to before, there are a lot of bands on the tour that the three of us haven’t had much exposure to. Are there any lesser-known bands, or bands you’re not too familiar with, that you’re going to try and watch perform?
Madison: So glad you asked this. I cannot wait to see Plague Vendor perform on the Kevin Says stage this year. In the past year or so, I’ve noticed a resurgence of pioneering punk bands releasing new music, which is awesome. And I am not talking late 90s pop-punk but rather old-school late 80/early 90s punk, the kind that parents used freak out about their kids listening to and then make them go to church. While these new releases are extremely excited and definitely welcomed, Plague Vendor comes at the same noisy sound from a different perspective. This band is new and the members are considerably young. They’re providing a fresh take on a genre that has been around for decades now. After releasing their debut album Free To Eat this past Spring, Plague Vendor created a lot of buzz in the college radio scene. I am excited to see the Warped Tour crowd reacts to them. It’ll be super cool for them to be able to find a common fan base between the two scenes.
Craig: The one performer I can definitely say I will be checking out with certainty is Dan Campbell’s side project Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties, which is playing a string of dates on Warped Tour in the Acoustic Basement, including the Holmdel date. Apparently he is performing the live shows under the persona of Aaron West, and if the first few songs he’s released from the project are any indication of the end product, it’s going to be one of the most devastating records of the year, so I’m interested to see how that translates live. I am also interested, if time allows, in checking out PVRIS’ set. They just signed to Rise/Velocity Records, and if the new song they just released is any indication, have undergone a dramatic shift sonically.
Donald: You know what? I thought about it, and I really hope people remember that Four Year Strong is on this tour. They were quiet for a very long time, but I saw them on tour with Bayside this spring, and they’re still one of the most fun bands to watch in this scene. Their songs and energy translate so well to summer shows, and I think they’re starting to see what everyone else didn’t like about In Some Way, Shape, Or Form. They’ve got a new EP coming out in July, and if the wonderfully-titled “Tread Lightly” (shout out to Breaking Bad!) is an indication, they’re back to the form they had on Enemy of the World. And, trust me, that’s worth watching.I’ll back Craig’s support of PVRIS as well, their singer Lynn Gunn has great pipes, and they seem to be a band that’s willing to experiment with their sound, which will hopefully help them stand out.
Madison: The first year I went to Warped Tour, I had absolutely no idea what to expect or what to bring or really any idea of how Warped Tour worked. What is your best pro-tip for any Warped newbies?
Donald: Stay cool! And I don’t mean dress nicely, or wear a cool hat, or whatever. I mean cool off. It’s going to be hot. I can’t stress that enough. You need to drink water. A lot of it. Warped Tour did this neat little thing a few years ago where they have a water dispensing booth, and you can fill up a bottle as many times as you need to. Last year, I refilled mine four times, and probably should have done so more. A few years ago, I had a real scare when I was watching Motion City Soundtrack, and as I raised my hands to applaud them after finishing a song, I got light-headed and almost fell over. I went to the nearest drink vendor and bought a water, and had to really monitor myself the rest of the day. Don’t be a hero: if you’re too hot, or too exhausted, don’t push yourself. Stay in the back of the crowd, or take a seat in some shade if you have to. I know there are a lot of bands you could be seeing. I know you’re going to want to see as many as possible. But there’s an entire world outside of Warped Tour, and when the last band plays, you go back into it. Don’t go back into it on a stretcher. Hydrate and take care of yourself.
Craig: The temptation is certainly going to be there to wear your trendiest sandals, flip-flops, etc. Resist that temptation. Wear your comfiest sneakers and be prepared to be on your feet most of the day. Not only are your feet going to get stepped on a lot, but the asphalt is usually ungodly hot, a temperature that sandals simply don’t handle well. I can’t emphasize what Don said about water enough either. A lot of venues, including PNC, allow you to bring in one sealed water bottle. So invest in a liter bottle from Wawa or Walgreens, take it in with you in your drawstring bag (another must have), and keep on refilling that throughout the day. My mother is a very wise woman, and she once said “the cost of water at the festival is a hell of a lot less than the health insurance deductible,” so don’t get dehydrated just because you won’t pay for a drink. And the final piece of advice I will give is to buy the two dollar schedule from the random guys near the park entrance. That little $2 piece of paper will be your best friend and prevent you from having to go back and forth to the inflatable schedule tent.
Madison: Put sunscreen on before you leave your house and bring a bottle with you. You will be outside for roughly 10 hours and if you get burnt within the first few, your day will be ruined. “But I want to get tan blah blah blah.” Trust me, it seems like a good idea to try to bronze up and that your summer skin can handle the sun but in reality, you will be in an open field/parking lot for hours with very little shade. And where there is shade, there is usually a very poor view of any stage which is the whole reason you are there. So slather on that Banana Boat; you’ll be happy you did. Although Don and Craig already touched on this, I’ll repeat it again because it is that important: keep on drinking water!! You would be surprised by how many people pass out at Warped Tour every year due to dehydration and heat exhaustion. My best friend and I have a rule where we have at least a water bottle an hour. It may seem like a lot but when you out in 100 degree weather without much shade, it’s a guaranteed way to keep yourself safe. Good luck!
So there you have it. Hopefully you’re as stoked as we are for Warped this Summer, and we’ll see you in the crowd at PNC Bank Arts Center on July 6th! Stay tuned next week as we bring you a week-long Warped Tour recap, featuring interviews with your favorite bands, show reviews, and set photos.