Warped Tour Is Great Again Thanks to Genre Diversity – Photos + Recap of Jones Beach Stop
It's been a long time since I've attended the Vans Warped Tour. I hold it with a lot of nostalgia, a summer getaway when school's out, filled with my friends and favorite bands all in a setting that defined being a teenager. The last few years haven't personally appealed to me, but this year something changed. The lineup for the tour encompasses a huge range of different acts: never would I think I could catch the neo-thrash of Municipal Waste, the sugary fun pop-punk of Neck Deep, and the theatrical stylings of GWAR. It offered to be an exciting day, and completely delivered.
I attended the July 8 stop at Jones Beach in Long Island, N.Y., and the day started off for me watching Atlanta rockers Microwave, an up-and-coming band that has a lot to offer. Their music blurred the line between emotive pop-punk and straight up rock 'n' roll, creating a combination that was hyper effective and exciting to watch. Singer Nathan Hardy excels at both crooning and screaming, backed by an instrumental section that sound both big-stadium suited and intimate.
Fit For a King are becoming one of metalcore's hottest acts, and it wasn't hard to see why during their performance. With completely pummeling drum and guitar work, attendees had no hesitation in smashing into each other during their set, moving along to rippers like "Deathgrip" and "Stacking Bodies." Time will tell how big the band will get, but they provided a setlist that served the genre well and showed their promise for the future.
One of the biggest surprises for the day was Queens metalcore group Emmure. Since their formation in 2003, the group, and especially vocalist Frankie Palmeri, have caught an endless storm of backlash for having seemingly simplistic song structures and having a lot in common with the nu-metal machismo of the '90s. But live, the band is an absolute pleasure to watch. Thanks to an instrumental section bolstered by Josh Travis and Phil Lockett, formerly of Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza and Glass Cloud, the songs sound huge live. "Shinjuku Masterlord" had Palmeri dancing around the stage and throwing out rhymes while the crowd mauled each other in the pit. His enthusiasm and vocal performance made it clear that he's Emmure's biggest fan in addition to its lead singer. The grooves of the riffs take on a new life under Travis' leadership, creating one of the most effective and loud sounds of the day.
Afterwards, Beartooth brought an explosive set to the mainstage, drawing in one of the day's biggest crowds. It's not hard to see why they've become one of the scene's most successful acts in a short amount of time, singer Caleb Shomo brings a real fierceness to his performances, crushing fan favorites like "Hated" and "The Lines." Their sound is nimble, crossing between metalcore and hard rock with ease, always exciting.
North Carolina shoegazers Hundredth delivered a set that was an oasis of chill in-between back to back sets of slam. Their breezy guitar work could still get heavy, set opener "Disarray" showed their past as a hardcore band with a driving and exciting riff while singer Chadwick Johnson kept vocals cool and subtle. Other tracks like "White Squall" and "Neurotic" were a jarring shift from the other bands on the lineup, creating a memorable act of the day.
Black Veil Brides frontman Andy Biersack is playing the tour under his Andy Black project. Admittedly, listeners might be skeptical as to how the music might carry over to Warped Tour's setting, but the his synth pop influences actually work quite nicely live. Equally apparent is Biersack's stage presence which works no matter what genre he's playing in. Singles like "We Don't Have to Dance" and "Homecoming King" had fans jumping wildly in the crowd, singing every word and showing their undying fanaticism towards him.
In case anybody was wondering if Hatebreed still brings it live, they definitely do. The long running metalcore pioneers led by Jamey Jasta had a setlist that spanned their entire career. The band's magnetism brought fans from all generations, whether they were new to the band from recent album The Concrete Confessional or old heads who've been down since genre defining Satisfaction Is the Death of Desire. Their performance was a great reminder of the generational impact hardcore punk has had, and that the band still brings some of the most exciting music live.
Elsewhere, Canadian hardcore group Counterparts brought their fervor to the stage. The young band has already amassed a huge following, fans knowing the word to nearly all the band's music. Songs like "Stranger" beat listeners over the head with straight breakdowns and intensity, offering interludes of melody and peace. New track "Bouquet" off their upcoming You're Not You Anymore had the crowd moving and enthralled.
One of the biggest wildcards of the day was California post-hardcore act Dance Gavin Dance, whose music encompasses such a wide range of style it's hard to point a finger at exactly how to describe them. During their set, the quirky guitar work inspired both dancing and moshing, depending on where you were standing, as the tag team vocal work of Tillian Pearson and Jon Mess provided both some of the day's best screams and best singing. Pearson dazzles with his clean vocals, slithering around the stage while guitarist Will Swan delivers funk and hardcore infused riffs. A must see.
Wrapping up the day, Kentucky hardcore band Knocked Loose may be one of the hungriest bands going. Their no-nonsense chug riffing connected hugely with the crowd, who started not one but four different pits during their performance. Singer Bryan Ferris absolutely tears his vocals while performing, giving a counterbalance to their heaviest breakdowns.
To cap things off, watching New Years Day is a sight to behold. It's kind of incredible to think about the band's early days, their 2007 debut My Dear a pop-punk record never connecting with a huge fanbase, and trapping them into a contract with the failing TVT Records. But run the clock ten years forward, the band has become a massive and inspiring presence on the tour. Singer Ash Costello is one of the best frontwomen going, able to combine ferocity and beauty in her vocals, with a crowd of young women looking up to her by copying her signature half black half red hairstyle. They're heavy and exciting, with songs like "I'm No Good' and "Angel Eyes" getting a huge reaction from the crowd.
Overall, it's definitely one of the most diverse years Warped Tour has ever seen, with bands crossing a multitude of different genres and scenes. It makes it one of the tour's most exciting of all time, creating an atmosphere of genre fluidity from one stage to the next and a sense of being able to stumble on something new and exciting more than ever before.
See the remaining dates on the 2017Vans Warped Tour here.
10 Greatest Metalcore Bands
Black Veil Brides' Andy Biersack: Dramatic Fan Fiction Reading