Warped Tour -- Mansfield, MA -- July 10th, 2014
The Ghost Inside:
The Great Unknown
Between the Lines
Test the Limits
Faith or Forgiveness
State Champs (first 4 songs):
Hard to Please
Every Time I Die:
Underwater Bimbos from Outer Space
Decayin' With the Boys
The New Black
If There's Room to Move, Things Move
No Son of Mine
Neck Deep (second half of the set):
Crushing Grief (No Remedy)
A Part of Me
All Hype, No Heart
Over and Over
Strike You Down
Live By the Code
Spit My Rage
One for the Underdogs
Keep Your Mouth Shut
Keepers of the Faith
Year of the Rat
We Ate the Horse You Rode In On
Piss Up a Rope
I Said I'm Fine
Safe to Say
When in Roam
Born of Osiris:
Follow the Signs
Four Year Strong:
What the Hell is a Giggawat?
Heroes Get Remember, Legends Never Die
Stuck in the Middle
Bada Bing! Wit'a Pipe!
Find My Way Back
Go Down in History
It Must Really Suck to Be Four Year Strong Right Now
Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)
Home is for the Heartless
The Story So Far:
Things I Can't Change
Swords and Pens
For the third summer in a row, I found myself at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts in the middle of July for the Vans Warped Tour. Of the four Warped Tours I've been to, the 2014 edition was easily the best.
The Ghost Inside was the first band I had an interest in seeing at the nice and early time of 11:40. I hadn't seen them since Warped Tour 2012 and it's crazy to see how big they've become since then. During their last run on Warped, they were on the mid-sized Monster Stage where they had a passionate, but average-sized crowd. Two years later, they are on one of the two Kia-sponsored main stages playing to one of the largest, wild crowds of the day. Their live show is a large part of the reason The Ghost Inside has exploded of late. Their combination of honest and emotional lyrics, well-time breakdowns and huge stage presence of vocalist Jonathan Vigil make their performances amongst the most memorable in the modern hardcore community. The band was solid throughout, but the last couple of songs were absolutely amazing. "Dark Horse" and "Engine 45" are easily my two favorite songs in their catalog and the crowd participation made them especially mesmerizing live. The Ghost Inside are a great live act and more than deserve their place as the most popular band in hardcore right now.
State Champs was the next band I caught. Per usual, the pop punk I was most excited to see on the day interfered with my favorite overall band on the bill- which for this year was Every Time I Die. Unlike the past two years where I had to completely miss sets from A Loss for Words and The Story So Far in order to see my favorite band on the bill, I was at least able to catch almost half of State Champs' set before Every Time I Die started. State Champs has been my favorite pop punk discovery of late with their 2013 LP The Finer Things being one of the best records I've heard from a modern pop punk act. Their live show isn't quite as great as their studio recordings thanks to their almost complete lack of energy and the occasional botched vocal line. However, their performance did keep getting better by the song and I'm pretty bummed I had to leave when their set was really starting to gain momentum. Hopefully I can catch a full set from State Champs in the near future so I can get a complete idea of their capabilities as a live act.
I perfectly timed my arrival to the Monster Stage to check out Every Time I Die, as their intro music was playing within seconds of me getting there. I was a bit worried about this performance simply because the last time I saw Every Time I Die in March of last year was one of the single best live performances I've ever seen. Those fears were quickly put to rest as Every Time I Die completely decimated the Xfinity Center for 30 minutes. They've always been a damn good live band, but the last time two times I've seen them they've been nothing short of mind-blowing. Keith Buckley is the blueprint of what a frontman should be in this genre. He's hilarious in-between songs, he's an expert at working a crowd and his vocal performance is spot-on. The setlist was perfect for a half-hour festival slot splitting time between classics like "The New Black" and "Floater" and a few tracks from their new record From Parts Unknown. The From Parts Unknown material was the highlight for me since I'd never seen it live before and unsurprisingly, it sounds immense in the setting. "Thirst" and "If There's Room to Move, Things Move" are brief and chaotic while "Decayin' With the Boys" is one of the most pure fun songs I've ever seen live (the "I've got so much soul, I'm barely alive" section gave me chills.) I felt bad for the rest of the bands playing the festival because there was pretty much no way anyone the bill could put on a show that's as intense, energetic and memorable as Every Time I Die.
After Every Time I Die finished up, my buddies and I rushed over to the Kevin Says Stage to catch the rest of Neck Deep's set. What impressed me the most about their set was the size and enthusiasm of the crowd. These guys have only been a band for two years and have already built up a following that rivals pop punk revival veterans The Wonder Years and The Story So Far. As for their performance, they were decent enough. Their music has more of a straight punk/hardcore edge to it than your average pop punk, but the vocals can get a little grating after a while, and that didn't change in a live setting. Neck Deep is a respectable act, but they don't hold a candle to the top-tier pop punk bands of today.
After a brief water and merch break, it was time for the only pure, old-school hardcore band on the bill, Terror, to take the stage. The first time I saw Terror last year at NEMHF ended up being a letdown due to me picking the worst possible place to stand at the back of the upstairs stage at The Palladium, causing me to not be able to see the stage. This time was a completely different story as Terror absolutely tore shit up. Terror made it their purpose to show everyone at Warped Tour what a real hardcore show was like with frontman Scott Vogel jumping in the crowd repeatedly and standing on the edge of the guardrail so kids could scream the words into the mic. Basically, this was the Terror performance I expected to get the first time around. Vogel also seemed really excited to be on Warped Tour, pointing out that these aren't crowds they're used to playing to and they're blown away by how great a reception they've gotten. I echo Vogel's sentiments completely. I didn't think Terror would have so many people in the crowd singing along and generally going crazy during their set. Now that I've seen a legit Terror show, I can say without hesitation that they are one of the most impressive live hardcore acts I've ever seen.
Vanna immediately followed Terror on the Monster Stage. Just like the last time I saw them opening for Every Time I Die in March 2013, Vanna's live show was pure fucking chaos. Vanna is just a step below The Dillinger Escape Plan and letlive. in terms of energy and amount of crazy shit they do during a performance. The setting of Warped Tour (a.k.a. having to have a rail in front of the stage when they play) causes them to hold back a little, but it wasn't even close to enough to derail the insanity their performances offer up. Frontman Davey Muise spent more time in the crowd than usual, even performing an entire song in the middle of the audience. Muise came off as a way less of a douche this time around than the last time I saw them- keeping his pseudo tough-guy rambling to a minimum. With Muise being far less annoying, I was definitely able to enjoy Vanna's set more this time around. Vanna's studio material still does nothing for me, but they are a spectacle to behold in a live setting.
The party at the Monster Stage continued as Born of Osiris took the stage next. I wasn't planning on watching Born of Osiris since I don't like them as much as I used to, and I've seen them four times already. However, there was no one else I was interested in watching playing during that time, so I said screw it and decided to watch their set. I'm actually really glad that I did because this was the tightest performance I've seen Born of Osiris give in ages. Ronnie Canizaro has gotten a bit of the bite back to his vocals that he's been lacking over the past couple years and Lee McKinney finally seems completely confident in his role as lead guitarist. The setlist was dominated by cuts from their newest record, Tomorrow We Die Alive. Tomorrow We Die Alive is all over the place in terms of quality, but the band chose many of the best cuts to play, which made the set highly enjoyable. The guitarwork on "Illusionist" is the perfect showcase of McKinney's improved chops while "Exhilarate" shows off the strength of the dual-vocal attack of Canizaro and keyboardist Joe Buras. Born of Osiris will probably never hit the peak they achieved on 2011's The Discovery again, but at least they seem to be reestablishing themselves as an entertaining and precise live act.
There was ample downtime between Born of Osiris and the next band I wanted to see (Four Year Strong), so I used that time to relax at the two amphitheater stages. Real Friends was the first band I saw and they were the only act of the day that I saw a full set from that wasn't enjoyable. They're just a really middle-of-the-road pop punk act who's live show has no redeeming qualities. I briefly left the amphitheater to try and meet Parkway Drive, but after failing to do so (you needed a wristband to attend their signing and they were all gone by the time I got to the AP tent), I decided to return to the amphitheater to sit down for a bit longer.
Air Dubai had just start playing when I got back and they were surprisingly pretty damn good. Their style was very unique as the verses were rapped and the choruses were sung in a soul/R&B style. The two drastically different ends of their sound meshed very well together and every song they played was catchy as hell. As you would expect, an R&B/soul/hip-hop hybrid did not go over well with the Warped Tour crowd. There was barely any applause after each song and most people there just seemed to waiting for The Ready Set to go on after them. Air Dubai was a nice departure from the pop punk and metalcore bands I'd been watching all day and it's a damn shame that they didn't get a better reception.
The time for Four Year Strong had finally arrived and just like the last time I saw them, they impressed the hell out of me. I've seen a lot of pop punk acts since I got back into the genre a few years ago and none even come close to matching the commanding stage presence that Four Year Strong has. Their towering stage presence is actually more reminiscent of an arena rock or a metal band than a pop punk/post-hardcore act. Considering how well they play on a big stage, I can't even imagine how crazy they are in a smaller room. Of course a big part of what made Four Year Strong's set so great is that fact that this is a hometown show for them. Their fanbase in Massachusetts is as rabid as humanly possible and you can tell the band truly loves playing here more than anywhere else in the world. Four Year Strong is the pinnacle of what a live act should be in this genre and I really need to see them in a setting outside of Warped Tour at the next opportunity I get.
The moment had finally come for Parkway Drive. While I'm a bigger fan of Every Time I Die, Parkway Drive was the band I was most excited to see on the day since I haven't seen them since Warped Tour 2010. Parkway Drive didn't just meet my expectations, they completely shattered them. Their performance this go-round was so much better than the first time I saw them it was almost like seeing a completely different band. What really makes Parkway Drive such a standout live act is their chemistry. They've had the same lineup since Horizons came out in 2007 and all that time together has made them an incredibly well-oiled and efficient unit. Just like on record, the best part of Parkway Drive's live performance is Winston McCall's vocals. McCall's vocals are easily amongst the best in the metalcore genre and he sounds exactly the same live as on record. Seeing him nail some of the more demanding high-pitched screams on "Wild Eyes" and "Carrion" was incredibly impressive. There are a fair share of vocalists in the scene that don't give 100% effort on the challenging notes, but McCall goes for every single one and I commend him immensely for doing so. The quality of Parkway Drive's performance is particularly impressive since they mostly played material off Deep Blue, my least favorite record of theirs. Obviously I would've loved to have seen more tracks from Horizons and Killing With a Smile, but it's a huge testament to the power of their live shows when they're playing a majority of their lesser material and still putting on an unreal performance. After this performance, I hope to hell it won't take me another four years to see Parkway Drive again.
The Story So Far closed out the evening for me. Per usual, they put on a really fun show. Parker Cannon's vocals were sharper than when I saw them headline last November and the setlist was way better with a vast majority of the best tracks from Under Soil and Dirt and What You Don't See being played. I owe a lot to this band as they are the main reason I got back into pop punk a couple years ago, which subsequently exposed me to a lot of great bands and shows with a fun, community vibe not unlike my typical stomping grounds in the Massachusetts metal scene. I'm elated that they've achieved so much success of late and have one of the most rapidly-expanded and dedicated fanbases in all of music. The Story So Far was the perfect end to another great Warped Tour. Here's hoping that next year's lineup is similarly awesome because this tour is too much god damn fun to miss out on.
-There were two guys dressed up as Spider-Man dueling off in the pits during The Ghost Inside. It was honestly more intense than anything in The Amazing Spider-Man
-Some girl flashed Keith Buckley during Every Time I Die's set, which led to the most hilarious piece of between-song banter of the day as Buckley stated how happy he was to have "finally seen a pair of breasts" and how they were "everything they were cracked up to be". Buckley then proceeded to lift his shirt up in the girl that flashed him's direction during the next song. Easily the funniest moment in a day full of funny moments.
-There's a suicide prevention group sponsoring the tour this year and their spokesperson gave a speech before Vanna started playing. As she was giving her speech, some kid in front of me just said "this shit would never happen at a hip-hop show". Way to be sensitive bro....
-After I bought my Killing With a Smile vinyl, Parkway Drive's merch guy was telling me that a few days earlier a girl who was filling in at the merch booth for him left one of the vinyls out in the sun and it melted. He showed me the vinyl afterwards and it was crazy to see how fucked it up got from being out in the sun all day.
-Parkway Drive also had the best sign I've seen on a tip jar at a merch table in my life. The sign read "Help! I need to feed my koala back home" with another sign under it that read "Thank You Based God".
-Lee McKinney from Born of Osiris was wearing a cape during their set.
-After Born of Osiris was done, my friend and I walked past the Beatport stage where Crizzly was playing. We had just passed the stage, when we heard him playing a dubstep version of Jibbs' "Chain Hang Low". Trust me, It was just as ridiculous and terrible as it sounds.
-I watched a song from Ice Nine Kills just because they're from my hometown. I wish I could support them, but I really just don't like the music. Despite some half-decent instrumentation, I had to leave during their second song because the clean vocals were so annoying.
-This was the first time in the four years I've been to Warped Tour that I was actually able to leave early and not get stuck in a shitload of traffic.
-My buddy and I determined that we're starting a feminist deathcore band-tentatively named Women's Rights- when we're in the parking lot after the show.
The Ghost Inside 8/10
State Champs 7.5/10
Every Time I Die 9.5/10
Neck Deep 7/10
Born of Osiris 8.5/10
Real Friends 5/10
Air Dubai 7/10
Four Year Strong 8.5/10
Parkway Drive 9/10
The Story So Far 8/10
2/19 Tove Lo
2/24 RUN THE JEWELS
3/28 Vince Staples
Crizzley's version of Chain Hang Low is dope as hell live.
Good to hear Terror aren't being shit like their live videos from Warped suggests.
Nice review bro though I disagree bout Real Friends.
Lucky SOB saw Parkway Drive hope they do a tour in US again. I remember when I saw em they played with Set Your Goals and The Ghost Inside
Parkway allegedly has a new record coming out in the fall, so they should be back in the US before too long.
2/19 Tove Lo
2/24 RUN THE JEWELS
3/28 Vince Staples
|air dubai, born of osiris, every time i die, four year strong, neck deep, parkway drive, real friends, state champs, terror, the ghost inside, the story so far, vanna|