by Brian Washburn
Kansas City stop
Remember when you were a little kid and your summer consisted of going to summer camp? Well, most of us have grown up since then, but there is still one summer camp that strives on for teenagers and music fans alike. The traveling summer music camps go across the nation for more than nine hours every day. Yes, I’m talking about the Vans Warped Tour.
The 2008 edition of the Warped Tour sported a “road trip” theme and featured several mainstream artists (Gym Class Heroes, Paramore, Angels and Airwaves and The Academy Is…) a plethora of up-and-comers who have generated buzz with the internet crowd (Say Anything, Forever The Sickest Kids, Every Time I Die and Cobra Starship) and a few bands here and there that are surprising to find on the annual summer punk festival (Katy Perry, Jacks Mannequin, Shwayze, As I Lay Dying and Norma Jean).
“The tour has been really awesome so far. Main stage is really cool and there’s always a lot of people by those stages,” said Adam Siska, bassist for The Academy Is…, back stage at the Kansas City Warped Tour date. “It’s fun this year because we’ve paid our Warped Tour dues and earned the chance to play on the main stage, where this year we will bring the most raw rock show we have because that’s what Warped is all about.”
“The last Warped Tour was great because it was our first one, but this time we learned the ropes so it’s a little more professional,” said Every Time I Die frontman Keith Buckley. “Plus, I really like the bands playing this year a lot more than the bands that played last year.”
The day started out overcast and cloudy (the reason I opted not to wear sunscreen), but an hour into the show the sun quickly revealed itself and turned the day blistering (the reason I was completely sunburned). However, with the weather fluctuating all day I still caught a few main stage acts as well as some rising music stars sets on Warped Tour, even though the final performance of the day (Angels and Airwaves) was canceled due to the gigantic thunderstorm hitting Kansas City at that moment.
Recent radio sensations Forever The Sickest Kids took the Smart Punk stage around 2 p.m. While that stage is mostly reserved for the up-and-comers, Forever generated the biggest crowd out of all the bands who played the stage that day. The band opened up with their hit single “Whoa Oh” and got the crowd pumped with the energized opener. The band continued that energy throughout their entire 30-minute set and played crowd favorites from their new CD. The music and vocals of the band seemed spot on, while it still did not bring the quality found on their album.
Former Something Corporate frontman Andrew McMahon brought his piano-pop outfit Jacks Mannequin out on the road for a few select Warped dates, which was a blessing because Jacks performed the best set of the day. While playing favorites from his debut album and two new songs from his upcoming September release (one called “Swim” was stellar), McMahon energized the crowd and did not miss a beat between rocking the piano and singing his lungs out.
Metal/hardcore outfit Every TIme I Die gave the Warped metal crowd the best metal performance of the day. Between a giant circle pit during virtually every song and frontman Keith Buckley entertaining the crowd with his ironic humor, Every Time I Die was definitely the most exhausting set, even though the music was raw, but then again, it’s metal.
Did you know that Katy Perry kissed a girl? Well by now you should, and apparently most of the Warped crowd knew as well because a good chunk of them made it to the Hurley.com stage to see the new bombshell perform. Perry performed with a full band and they sounded decent trying to make up for the electronics found on her album. But the singer knows how to perform, and hey, who doesn’t like a good guilty pleasure song?
The final performance of the day featured rock band Say Anything. WIth a huge crowd on the left main stage, Max Bemis and company rocked the crowd through their 30-minute set and proved they might just be on-the-move to bust into the national scene, even though most of the crowd sat there mesmerized by the performance and did not sing along like some.
While Warped Tour can make for the longest day of the summer from standing in the smoldering sun for more than nine hours rocking out, you do get to see probably at least two or more of your favorite bands in the same day. Warped Tour is definitely one of those events you can look back on and remember the year, or years, you attended and tell friends which bands you saw before they made it big.
Final Thought: If you want to read more on Warped Tour, including reviews for Norma Jean, As I Lay Dying, We The Kings, Set Your Goals, Gym Class Heroes, The Devil Wears Prada and From First To Last, as well as my complete interview with Every Time I Die, As I Lay Dying and The Academy Is…, visit my Web site at www.thisisbrianwashburn.com.
by Brian Washburn