The 16th annual Vans Warped Tour kicked off this year on June 25, 2010. It will cover 43 dates through August 15, 2010. This year's concert journey follows the highly successful formula of the past. In St. Louis, Missouri on July 5, 2010, more than 50 artists played for the crowds on seven different stages. The biggest complaint for the St. Louis date is that the close proximity of the stages to each other allowed for significant bleeding over of sound from one stage to the other. The Kevin Says stage and Teggart headliner stage in particular were far too close for comfort.
Punk Focus But a Solid Pop Presence
The close proximity of various stages, short sets mostly lasting approximately 30 minutes, and efficient adherence to schedules allowed me to take in 20 acts in the course of the day. While the traditional focus of Warped Tour has been punk music, the genres represented have expanded far enough in past years that most pop fans would find a lot to like at Warped Tour. Bands like The Cab, Mayday Parade, and The Summer Set deliver punk pop with a surefire melodic sheen. Christofer Ingle, aka Never Shout Never, delivers his joy-filled romantic indie pop in a way that made loads of girls scream and swoon in his audience. California's Fight Fair are celebrating the recent release of their debut album California Kicks while entertaining audiences with a light surf punk attitude.
Standout Performances on Warped Tour 2010
- Andrew W.K. - Despite all of the various controversies through the years of who exactly is Andrew W.K., the Andrew W.K. stage show is clearly a highlight of this year's Warped Tour. Take the spirit of classic British punk and add in enough keyboard to give everything a New York glam sheen. The energy careens off the stage to ignite the crowd in a massive celebration of good times.
- Gardening, Not Architecture - It is difficult to describe in words the sheer magnetism of Sarah Saturday alone with her bass guitar on stage singing simple songs over backing tracks. With a strong background elsewhere as a working foot soldier in the music industry and a leader of the EIY (Earn It Yourself) independent music community, Sarah Saturday is stepping out front as the face of Gardening, Not Architecture. The sound is quite compelling. Owl City blazed trails into the mainstream for homemade musical projects. Gardening, Not Architecture's aesthetic is just as beautifully engaging.
- Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band - Somewhere country blues, zydeco, and the classic style of Johnny Cash collide with a punk attitude. That is where you will find Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band. Being my first experience of the trio live, I was literally stopped in my tracks on the way to see All-American Rejects.
- Tomorrow's Bad Seeds - If you were wondering if the spirit of ska is still alive on Warped Tour, look no further than Tomorrows Bad Seeds. There is nothing intrinsically flashy about the group to wrench your attention from others. It is simply the solid, tight, uplifting music that will pull you in.
Warped Tour is possibly one of the best music festivals for engaged crowd watching. The grounds are highly populated by fans in their late teens and early 20s. It doesn't take long however to spot those who have committed to the punk and do it yourself aesthetic of Warped Tour for the long term. Despite the heat and humidity, a number of fans decked out in Mohawks, body paint, piercings, and tattoos continue the tradition that punk is not only about the music but also personal appearance.
If you are attending Warped Tour, be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen, earplugs if you intend on getting close to the stage, and an open mind musically. This is one of the best places to discover that new favorite band when you are on your way from one established act to another.
Veteran Acts Show Their Stuff
It would be a mistake to see Warped Tour as simply an event for bands on the rise. Established acts are also present to demonstrate how to maintain an audience after gaining a significant level of national success. All-American Rejects enthralled the crowd primarily through the showmanship of front man Tyson Ritter decked out in white suit. We the Kings took the stage with well-earned pop-rock confidence and even a bit of swagger. Possibly the peak moment for the band was their tribute to the inspiration We the Kings gain from Jimmy Eat World delivering a spot-on cover of "The Middle." Motion City Soundtrack are celebrating more than 10 years in the business and the recent release of their first major label album My Dinosaur Life. The band delivered a tight energetic set that did not disappoint the overflowing crush of fans crowding the Teggart Stage.
If you are a fan at all interested in hearing the harder edged side of pop as well as discovering idiosyncratic indie sounds live, Warped Tour is well worth checking out. Tickets are significantly cheaper than a day at most of the largest music festivals, and you are likely to see more bands due to the tighter sets. Warped Tour remains a highlight of the North American musical summer.