Sunscreen, short shorts and teenage angst were in full effect as we hit this summer’s Van’s Warped Tour at the Pomona Fairgrounds in sunny California. With Warped Tour’s lineup boasting dozens of acts high on the brutality meter, we could not wait for the day to begin.
Long Island natives Stray From the Path kicked off the day showcasing their musical concoction of Rage Against the Machine meets Dillinger Escape Plan. With chaotic tunes touching on subjects of greed and police violence, “Black Friday” and “Badge and Bullet” had slam dancers in a frenzy. Bringing high intensity, the wild mannered lead vocalist Drew York made it clear to the audience that their 11:10am timeslot had no effect on the young band’s enthusiasm.
After a quick waltz around the park exploring merch tents and locating stage sites, it was back to the Monster Energy stage to see one of the most anticipated acts of the day, Beartooth.
With easily one of the largest non-main stage audiences, Beartooth hit the ground running with hardcore hits “Dead,” “I Have a Problem,” and “Body Bag.” Crowd surfers and mosh pits were in full force as frontman Caleb Shomo bellowed lyrics like, “I’ll shout the truth at the top of my lungs, I’ll never live like you,” and “There’s no substance, nothing’s real anymore. But I’m still swinging, fighting like never before.”
After catching our breath and regrouping from what may have been the set of the day, a quick stop at the Electric Soul stage left us in awe as we gazed at the abundance of kids gathering to watch pop-punk up-and-comers, The Story So Far. Their energy and enthusiasm was admirable but it wasn’t quite the face-melting ruthlessness we were seeking.
So, like our two previous trips, we again found ourselves back at the Monster Energy stage to witness Warped veterans and thrash enthusiasts, Every Time I Die. Setting the bar high very quickly with their crowd-pleasing track “Floater,” the Buffalo inhabitants were off to a great start. Continuing with classics like “Bored Stiff” and “The New Black,” this group of 30-somethings showed no signs of letting up. “Kiss-of-death” implications aside, Every Time I Die progressed in their set by introducing three new tracks. Off their new album From Parts Unknown, “Thirst,” “Decayin’ with the Boys” and “All Structures are Unstable” notably hit the audience’s ears with much excitement. Rounding out the set with personal favorites “We’rewolf” and “No Son of Mine,” ETID confirmed that they are not ready to give up their spot atop the hardcore hierarchy.
As the day progressed, pits began to blur together from Warped Tour all-starsThe Devil Wears Prada, The Ghost Inside and Motionless in White. With echoing growls and ear-splitting riffs, these three acts were definitely a highlight of the day.
Powering through on a combination of free-sample beef jerky and Peace Tea, we found ourselves bumping into the Mediaskare Records act, Volumes. Playing to a decent-sized crowd, Volumes served up a heavy dose of breakdowns and drumbeats that had kids going nuts.
Navigating through the rest of what Warped had to offer, we landed at the Kevin Says stage to watch punk rock California locals, Plague Vendor. Having no previous history with Plague Vendor, watching the squirmy and enthusiastic lead-vocalist Brandon Blaine slither across the stage was entertaining to say the least. After noting that his parents were in the crowd, Blaine didn’t let that tame his stage presence as he continued to place a 5-pound barbell in his pants.
Finally, exhausted, sweaty and sunburnt with our ears ringing we called it a night. Warped Tour kicked our ass. It was hot and it was loud but none of that really mattered. When you’re having as much fun as we had, nothing really matters. Big props to Kevin Lyman for making it to 20 years of the Warped Tour, and here’s to 20 more.