My full review, hope you enjoy!
Another year, another successful and varied Warped Tour.
I will say that the day didn't start off in the greatest fashion. It started pouring rain right before the show, but thankfully it tapered off pretty quickly and didn't rain for the rest of the day. Upon getting in the venue around 11:25, my friends and I had to wait in a extremely long line to get a schedule with the set times on it and after getting the schedule approximately 20 minutes later, we found out that The Chariot was currently playing on the Monster Stage. Of course by the time we got to the Monster Stage, The Chariot was finishing up their last song. I was pretty bummed since The Chariot was one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing on the day. The slight upside is I'm not a huge fan of them on disc, I just wanted to see them live because the footage I've seen of them has been absolutely insane. Hopefully they come back to Massachusetts soon on a solid tour so I can finally see them live.
Thankfully, things starting looking up from there. The first band of the day I actually caught was British metalcore act While She Sleeps. I had only heard a couple songs by them prior to the show that didn't leave any strong impressions on me, but I had heard a lot of positive things about them so I decided to give them a go live and I'm really glad that I did. Their music was the perfect hybrid of melody and traditional metalcore with some nice groove sections thrown in for good measure (not your typical breakdowns, more groove metal-based stuff which was sick) What made their set especially enjoyable was their energy and crowd interaction. The crowd was pretty sparse due to Like Moths to Flames playing at the same time which lead them to start up personal interactions with multiple people in-between songs. Their singer pointed at my friends and I as well as a few other people multiple times asking us to move up, start pits, etc because we were amongst the few people that had a strong reaction to their set. You don't see things like that all the time so it was cool seeing how appreciative they were and singling people out in a small crowd and thanking them for digging their set. I met the whole band at their merch tent a little bit after their set and they are some of the coolest and funniest musicians I've ever met. The whole band was super appreciative for us checking out their set and thanked us personally for giving back the energy they were giving off (they give us a ton of stickers for free because of it.) While She Sleeps definitely has a new fan in me and I look forward to checking them out further/seeing them live again.
After While She Sleeps, I was sweating profusely so I headed to the amphitheater to sit down. Hands Like Houses had just started when I got there and they were pretty awful. They were a combo of pop punk, post-hardcore and electronic and it was just a mess musically. The crowd down in front seemed pretty into it, but otherwise no one really cared. Hands Like Houses mainly failed to hold my attention and didn't impress me in the slightest, but at least I got some rest before letlive. played.
letlive. was up next and they were probably my most anticipated set of the day. I first heard their last record Fake History earlier this year and it quickly became one of my favorite records of the past decade. These guys are easily the most interesting band to come along in a long time in a genre (post-hardcore) that desperately needed an act to breakthrough the monotony of generic breakdowns paired with weak screams and whiny, emotionless singing that has plagued the genre for years (i.e. most of the bands that have appeared on the main stage of the past few Warped Tour's) Thankfully, letlive. is just as impressive in a live setting as they are in the studio. Jason Butler demonstrated his insane vocal range which features everything from frenzied screaming to truly soulful singing. On top of a great vocal performance, Butler is one of the most intense and emotional performers I've ever seen. He was nearly brought to tears during "Muther" when explaining the song's backstory about his long-time girlfriend cheating on him when he was in the hospital after a near-death experience and his vocals during the entire song were very powerful and genuine. On top of his emotional performance, he is just an unfathomably energetic performer. He was running all over the place, climbing on amps, hanging on the rafters of the stage, stage-diving left and right, even somewhat awkwardly taking his pants off and performing about half of set closer "Renegade 86''" in just his underwear. Musically, the band was tight and it was badass to see the entire band playing bongos during set opener "Le Prologue" (guitarists Jeff Sayhoun and Jean Nascimento played them during interludes in "H. Ledger" and "27 Club" as well.) The only downside of the set was Butler was going so crazy on stage at times that he wasn't singing certain parts of the song, which was a tad bit irritating, but completely forgivable because he has such an incendiary stage presence and when was singing, he sounded great. letlive. put on a blistering set and if you like off-the-wall, energetic performances, they're a must-see live band.
I made the incredibly stupid decision to watch Attila next. I figured their set would be good for a laugh to kill some time, I was wrong. It was just a painful experience that I really shouldn't have put myself through. Their vocalist, Chris Fronzak, deserves a gold medal in the meathead douchebag Olympics. This dude is just so full of himself and thinks his band is scandalous, edgy and challenges authority just because he tells everyone to suck his dick, eat his pussy, suck his fuck (he seriously owns a clothing line where most of the merchandise says "Suck My Fuck" and it's also his Twitter handle, what a cool guy) etc. and toss around a bunch of homophobic insults around at his "haters". It's not funny, scandalous or edgy, so I really don't know what he's trying to accomplish with it other than try to say as much stupid shit as humanly possible in a pathetic attempt to offend someone. Not to mention on top of their stupid-ass lyrics/message, Fronzak is an absolutely abysmal vocalist (his high-pitched screams are amongst the most laughable I've heard in my entire life) and the band plays the same boring, simple breakdown throughout every song. Clearly I'm in the minority with Fronzak and his bandmates's antics because the crowd was eating them up. They easily had the biggest side stage crowd of the day and The Wonder Years is the only band that I saw on the day that had a more active and lively crowd. Personally I don't see the appeal with this band and their popularity absolutely boggles my mind. I'll stick to Municipal Waste for my fix of party metal and avoid this talentless bunch of assclowns at all costs in the future. Easily one of the worst live sets I've ever sat through, Attila just fails on every possible level as musicians and in my eyes, is a disgrace to the entire metal community.
After watching Attila fart on stage for a half-hour, I was happy to go and see one of my favorite bands, August Burns Red, perform. I don't know if it was the bad taste in my mouth from Attila or something else, but August Burns Red wasn't quite as good as they normally are live. Don't get me wrong, they still performed well and put on an enjoyable, fun set, they just didn't sound as sharp or exude as much as energy as the previous three times I've seen them. The setlist was a nice balance of all the Jake Luhrs-era records, which was cool to see and give their set kind of a mini-career retrospective vibe. The songs from Rescue & Restore sounded good live and I'm really curious to see how much/what new material they will play on future headlining tours for that record (I'm keeping my fingers crossed it's alot since it's my favorite record by them to-date.) Despite my slight disappointment with their set at Warped, I'm looking forward to (hopefully) seeing August Burns Red again on a headlining tour in the coming months.
After a brief break, I checked out Story of the Year on the Tilly's stage. Story of the Year was one of those bands I listened to as kid that I haven't listened to in years, but I figured it would be cool to check them out for old times' sake. Their set wasn't anything too special, but it did bring back some fond memories for me. I was glad they played "And The Hero Will Drown" and a couple of others from Page Avenue (which they are playing in its entirety on a headlining tour in October to commemorate the album's 10th anniversary, 13-year-old me would be there in a heartbeat) and the whole band sounded pretty decent throughout the set. Nothing remarkable, but Story of the Year are a solid band for what they are and I had some nostalgic fun during their set.
I raced back to the main stages to catch The Wonder Years, who had just started upon my arrival. The Wonder Years are one of the top-tier pop punk acts who are just a lot of fun as the band. Their music is catchy as hell with a ton of soaring hooks, bouncy riffs and sentimental, honest lyrics. The whole band is clearly having an absolute blast on-stage and their vocalist Soupy seems like a genuinely awesome and real person. Making The Wonder Years performance that much more special is the crowd reaction they got. While it wasn't quite as explosive as the crowd when I saw them headline at the Royale last year, people were going insane the entire time they were on stage. Their fans are incredibly passionate and it's always awesome to see that at a show. Their music has clearly had a huge positive impact on a lot of their diehard fans and they express their gratitude to the fullest extent at every single one of their shows. The Wonder Years are one of the best pop punk bands in the revival moment and their live show is just a ton of fun.
Hometown hardcore act Defeater was the next band I caught. Their set was kind of weird because they performed well and there were a handful of people going nuts in the very front, but other than that no one really showed any enthusiasm. I didn't expect a huge reaction since their brand of hardcore isn't necessarily what you normally get on Warped Tour, but I expected a stronger reception since it was a hometown/record release show for them. Hardcore, more than any other genre, needs strong crowd reaction to be really effective, which this set unfortunately lacked. Another thing that sucked was that the melodic parts of their songs were completely drained out by the main stage (Black Veil Brides was playing at time and they were loud as hell.) What I heard of these sections were pretty badass, but you couldn't get the full effect because of the Black Veil Brides's sound overpowering them. Defeater gave a solid, energetic performance, it just got dragged down by outside factors that were no fault of their own. I really need to see them again in a proper environment that captures their energy with a crowd full of people that actually care about their music.
Shortly after Defeater wrapped up, I headed over to the Ernie Ball Stage to check out Crossfaith. I knew nothing about them and the only reason I checked them out is because two of the band members were holding up signs earlier in the day promoting their set that said "Crossfaith: Futuristic Japanese Metal 6:50 Ernie Ball Stage". Simply said, The phrase "Futuristic Japanese Metal" completely sold me on checking out their set. I hadn't the slightest clue what I was getting into, but it ended up being a brilliant choice as Crossfaith absolutely destroyed the tiny Ernie Ball Stage. Their set was easily amongst the most energetics live sets I've ever seen. The 1st riff came in and the singer was already swinging from the rafters and the whole band was just going batshit crazy. The keyboardist/second vocalist was the most energetic of the bunch scaling everything that could be scaled and losing his mind behind his synth/laptop/keyboard setup. I guess you could call them "trancecore" because of the heavy electronic elements in their sound. That being said unlike the other acts in the genre that I've heard: it wasn't gimmicky, there's no girly clean vocals (there's no clean vocals period actually), no auto-tune, no vocal-effect breakdowns, no other bullshit, it's just really solid metalcore with great screams and drumming (the fills on the 1st couple songs were amazing) that happens to be heavy on synth-use. Crossfaith is a force to be reckoned with in a live setting and I'll have to check out their studio stuff to see if that manic energy carries over to their recordings.
Continuing the surprises on the day was Mac Lethal. I was debating between watching a few acts at that time (one of my friends and I even flipped a coin, which determined we would watch Bring Me the Horizon but we changed our minds on our way to the stage once we heard how bad Oli Sykes sounded.) This change of heart ended up being the best decision of the day because Mac Lethal absolutely killed it. The dude can absolutely spit coherently at high speeds, which impressed the hell out of me. On top of being able to rap fast, he can also rap acapella without missing a beat. He performed "Cook with Me Now" (which is the song he performs in the infamous YouTube video of him rapping while flipping pancakes, which he can apparently only perform if he doesn't use the beat because Chris Brown sewed for using the beat for "Look at Me Now" and making fun of him for beating up Rihanna) with no beat in the crowd on some dude's shoulders. That was one of the awesome things I've ever seen at a show and I'll never forget how impressive/badass that entire track was. His entire set was just a masterclass in showmanship and having fun on-stage. Mac Lethal is an incredibly talented rapper who's music I need to delve into further immediately.
The Black Dahlia Murder wrapped things up for the day and did so in unsurprisingly spectacular fashion. Their entire set served as a reminder as to why they are one of my favorite bands of all-time. In a live setting, they just command the stage and their riff-heavy brand of melodic death metal is made for this environment. Trevor Strnad sets the bar for metal frontmen: he sounds spot-on vocally, he gets the crowd into it and he is clearly having the time of his life on-stage (who else delivers death growls with an ear-to-ear grin on their face?) The whole band is flawless as well with Ryan Knight shredding through every solo without missing anything and new drummer Alan Cassidy perfectly filling the massive void left when longtime drummer Shannon Lucas left the band last year. The setlist was perfect for a festival like Warped with a few of the top-level tracks from their new record Everblack as well as set staples like "Statutory Ape" "What A Horrible Night to Have a Curse" and "Funeral Thirst" and deeper cut "Den of the Picquerist" thrown in for good measure. The only downside was how sparse the crowd was (although the crowd that was there was pretty into it) I guess Black Dahlia's primary fanbase didn't want to go Warped to check them out. They stick out like a sour thumb on this bill, but I'm glad they did the tour because it's out of their typical comfort zone and it will (hopefully) bring them some new fans that probably wouldn't have checked them out otherwise. The Black Dahlia Murder closed out the day on the highest possible note with 30 minutes of crushing death metal. There were a few bumps in the road, but Warped Tour 2013 was a mostly enjoyable day filled with mostly solid performances and a few awesome surprises.
-The bassist of While She Sleeps looks like Brian Eschbach from The Black Dahlia Murder.
-I got my ticket signed by all of While She Sleeps and Mac Lethal.
-The Spotify Stage was loaded with dubstep acts, which was amusing to walk past throughout. I'm sorry to fans of the genre, but it's pretty hilarious to me watching some dude behind a Macbook jamming out in front of a crowd people. It seems more like a shitty house party than a live performance.
-Insidious Chapter Two sponsored the Kevin Says Stage this year and had a blimp with the movie's logo on it flying alarmingly low during The Wonder Years's set. Easily one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen at a show.
-August Burns Red threw a ton of beach balls into the crow at the beginning of their set and people were hitting them around for a majority of the set.
-There were a ton of kids dressed up in ridiculous costumes such as Kick-Ass, Spongebob Squarepants, a penguin and even a kid in a full spandex suit that covered his face.
-Some kid hugged my friend because he was wearing a "Thank You Based God" shirt
-Some huge dude in a Lamb of God shirt was purposely stopping as much hXc dancing as he possibly could during Black Dahlia Murder's set. This man deserves a medal of honor, he is doing god's work.
-I got a surprising amount of compliments on my Skeletonwitch shirt from both vendors and fellow concertgoers. Always good to see the Witch getting some love.
-Attila smells bad.
While She Sleeps 8/10
Hands Like Houses 3/10
August Burns Red 8/10
Story of the Year 6.5/10
The Wonder Years 8/10
Mac Lethal 9/10
The Black Dahlia Murder 9.5/10
3/14 Dropkick Murphys
4/10 At the Gates/Converge