Warped Tour 2007

author DY date 10/09/07

Since its inception in 1995, the Vans Warped Tour has become one of the most popular punk rock tours to take place in the USA. Having featured pretty much every big name punk band over the years plus countless young unknowns, the tour has gained an impressive reputation. However, after the 2006 shows, speculation arose as to whether the tour had lost its sting and whether it was even still relevant to today's music scene. It was for this reason that creator Kevin Lyman decided to make this year's line up "as diverse as possible without abandoning the roots of what the tour stood for". True to his word this is exactly what Lyman did, creating a lineup consisting of everything from rap and hip hop acts such as P.O.S. to metalcore/hardcore hybrids like As I Lay Dying and of course all the punk you could need in between from an array of bands such as Pennywise and New Found Glory. What took place throughout July and August this summer turned out a huge success according to Lyman and has spurred him on to plan for next year's tour.

I was lucky enough to be in Chula Vista, San Diego for the penultimate stop of the 45 date tour which took place in the car park behind the Coors Amphitheatre in a part of town which was literally nowhere near anything. After an hour's trolley ride from uptown San Diego and a connecting bus, I was still forced to walk the remaining mile and a half along the side of a highway to the venue. Total traveling time was about 2 hours 45 minutes, a tad longer than my initial estimate of an hour and a half. Unfortunately this meant missing a whole bunch of bands that were a major incentive to my attendance at the show such as The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Circa Survive. Nevertheless, when you are at Warped Tour in San Diego it's hard to get down about anything for too long, so I set about enjoying the rest of the show.

The set up consisted of two main stages; The Lucky Stage (this year's tour was the 'lucky 13th') and the #13 Stage. The Lucky stage hosted the major punk bands of the tour, whilst the #13 stage hosted the hardcore and heavier rock bands. There were also four smaller stages, The Hurley stage, The Smart Punk stage, The Hurley.com stage and the Ernie Ball stage. There were also rows upon rows of stalls, one for each band plus a bunch of others for the various sponsors and vendors of merchandise. Some bands including Flogging Molly occasionally stopped by at their stalls for signings too. In the centre of the car park was a huge sign with every stage and every band written on, along with their set times, which I thought was an extremely effective way of doing it and way better than the festivals which try to sell you programs for rip-off prices just so you can see when and where your favourite band is playing. They also give out free schedules and pencils which you can write underneath each stage which band you want to see and what time they are on so that you can plan your day. Brilliant.

Vitals

The essential details.

Date: 24th August 2007.

Venue: Coors Amphitheatre parking lot

Lineup: A Static Lullaby, Agent Orange, All Time Low, Amber Pacific, As I Lay Dying, Bad Religion, Bayside, Bleed The Dream, Bless The Fall, Boys Like Girls, Buck O Nine, Chiodos, Circa Survive, Coheed and Cambria, Cute Is What We Aim For, Daphne Loves Derby, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Envy On The Coast, Escape The Fate, Evaline, Fishbone, Flogging Molly, Hawthorne Heights, Hot Rod Circuit, IainTerry band, Jonzetta, K-OS, Kaddisfly, Killswitch Engage, Maylene & The Sons of Disaster, Meg and Dia, My American Heart, Natives Of The New Dawn, Pennywise, Pepper, Poison The Well, POS, Real McKenzies, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Revolution Mother, So They Say, Still Remains, Street Drum Corps, Sum 41, Supernova, The Actual, The Almost, The Confession, The Fabulous Rudies, The Fold, The Matches, The Rocket Summer, The Spill Canvas, The Starting Line, The Toasters, The Unseen, The Vincent Black Shadow, Throwdown, Tiger Army, Total Chaos

Reviews

Killswitch Engage @ 14:50 on #13 stage

So I kicked off my afternoon by checking out Killswitch Engage's set on the #13 stage. The band performed with energy and delivered a strong set, including songs such as "The Rose Of Sharyn" and the classic "My Last Serenade". The crowd appeared to be pretty enthusiastic to see them and vocalist Howard Jones seemed to have them well under his control as he encouraged them to jump around and open up circle pits. We were entertained between songs by Adam Dutkiewicz, the guitarist who for some reason put on some monsterous, devil like voice whenever he spoke. The band rounded up their set with another classic "The End Of Heartache" and left everyone satisfied. [7]

Sum 41 @ 15:50 on Lucky stage

After taking a walk around the different stages and tents I headed to the Lucky stage to watch Sum 41 who from the start were going to have to work hard to impress me. Having only heard the band's sophomore album "All Killer No Filler" and been somewhat unimpressed (bar the catchy "Fat Lip" and "In Too Deep") I had not listened to them since, so I was interested to hear what they had been up to with their more recent albums. Surprisingly, I actually quite enjoyed their show once I had managed to get past the cheeziness of their on stage antics. Some of the band's newer songs were slightly more complex and credible than their early work and discouraged me from leaving half way through, as was my original plan. In addition, there was a great atmosphere as the crowd were absolutely loving it, and I mean loving it. They hung on every word that came of vocalist/guitarist Derek Whibley's mouth between songs and moshed like crazy during the songs, especially "Fat Lip". Whibley's insistence on getting the crowd to sing a line during the bridge of nearly every song over and over again was annoying to say the least, for example during "We Are All To Blame" I must have heard the word sacrifice shouted about 30 times. But despite the fact that Sum 41 are and will always have an element of cheeze to them, they still pulled of a watchable set and certainly exceeded my expectations. [6½]

Flogging Molly @ 16:50 on Lucky stage

The crowds gathered in masses around the Lucky stage as the Irish-American punk band prepared for their mid afternoon set. Just next door we could see Fishbone finishing up, but their audience was getting smaller and smaller as more people made their way to the Lucky stage. There's something strange about the way the seven-piece look on stage when they come out somewhat overdressed in their suits but something so right and fitting about the way they sound. They are exactly the kind of band you would expect to hear on a tour like this, but nothing like the kind you'd expect to see. Regardless, the band were certainly in form and played a blinding set, sparking several sing-a-longs along the way, the most obvious occurring during "Drunken Lullabies". It was nice to hear vocalist Dave King so openly appreciative of all of the support they had received from the crowd not just on this day, but throughout the many years the band had played Warped Tour. The band had the audience well and truly on their side and during each song there was jumping and dancing all over the place. After playing "Seven Deadly Sins" to a great response, they played a new song from the album they will be recording as you read this. Unlike is sometimes the case, the new song didn't cause the energy level to drop and the crowd remained captivated by the band. A great performance and one of the highlights of the day. [8]

As I Lay Dying @ 17:20 on #13 stage

A great aspect of the tour is that the two main stages are placed directly next to each other and once a band finishes playing on one of them, the next band begins on the next stage, thus meaning no waiting time between the big acts. So as Flogging Molly played their final song I made my way next door to the #13 stage for one of my most anticipated acts, As I Lay Dying. They were without doubt the heaviest band at the festival today, and it showed. Less than two minutes into their first song "Confined", some guy walked past me out of the mosh pit holding his head, which was covered in blood. From the start the pits were as brutal as the songs that the band were delivering. The band were clearly stoked to be playing this show and vocalist Tim Lambesis made several references to how glad he was so be playing their home town of San Diego and how they had been telling people prior to the show how they expected it to be so intense. Mid-way through the set, Lambesis asked the crowed to create 'the biggest circle pit ever' and instructed them to start it in front of the stage and have it stretch all the way around the sound tech booth behind the crowd. It was an awesome sight as the crowd actually pulled it off. The band played a mixture of songs including "Forever" from their old albums and the recently released "An Ocean Between Us", each one inspiring wild moshing in the crowd. There's a reason why this band is considered to be among the best live bands and that's because every show they play is played with passion and energy and Lambesis does a fantastic job of dominating the stage with a look on his face that when combined with the vicious screams coming from his mouth is enough to make you soil your pants. Sadly, due to the size of the venue the energy was not contained in the crowd as well as it is in the band's smaller shows, but still, the performance was most certainly there. [9]

Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster @ 17:45 on Smart Punk stage

Over to a smaller stage for the Alabama southern rock/hardcore six piece. Having only seen the band play once before with Norma Jean and not heard their recorded material, I came with an open mind. Unlike the small yet clearly dedicated crowd, I couldn't get into their set at all, partly due to their almost complete lack of melody. Part way through the set one of the guitarists climbed up on the shoulders of some guy and played guitar in the middle of the crowd and for me this was probably the high point of their 30 minutes. Unfortunately the performance just didn't stand out as anything other than average. [5]

The Almost @ 18.45 on Hurley.com stage

Having absolutely loved the debut solo album from Underoath drummer Aaron Gillespie I was delighted to have the opportunity to see him perform with his live band on such a small stage, as they will almost certainly be playing the mid-sized venues by the time they make it over to the UK. Considering that every song on "Southern Weather" is superb, they couldn't really go wrong with their choice of songs, and they certainly didn't when they opened the set with the thunderous title track. An enthusiastic Gillespie bellowed out the vocals even more powerfully than he does on record as they stormed through "Call Back When I'm Honest" and numerous others from the debut, throwing himself and his guitar all over the stage as they went. The band performed with so much energy consistently throughout the performance that you could tell they are loving to play this music together in a live format and that they would have given the same performance even if no-one had been watching at all. Things got even better when the band chose to play the song "Amazing Because It Is", one of the album's real masterpieces, which begins with just Gillespie and a guitar and finishes with the full band launching into a powerful climax. After thrashing out "I Mostly Copy Other People" Gillespie stopped to talk to the crowd and tell them that he wasn't going to preach to them, but rather that he just wanted to tell them that no matter what anyone says they are all great people and that Jesus loves them. The band then launched into their final song, "Say This Sooner". Sadly, it took until this song for the crowd to really get moving. Being the band's only single to date it was no surprise that this one sent them nuts, but it certainly would have been better if they had shown the same enthusiasm throughout the set, as did yours truly. A blinding performance from a band who are going to go far. 30 minutes just wasn't long enough. [9]

Bad Religion @ 19:00 on Lucky stage

Due to my watching the full set from The Almost I missed the most part of Bad Religion's set and caught only the last 7 or 8 minutes. Approaching the stage, it seemed like 85% of the attendees at the festival were watching them, which is no surprise considering their status in the punk world. I'm not going to attempt to cite any of the songs the band played in the time I saw them because quite frankly I haven't got a clue. What I will say is that what I heard sounded pretty cool and the atmosphere in the crowd suggested that a more than adequate performance had been given by the band. Seeing as I missed most of the set and I'm not really that familiar with the band, I'm not going to grade them. probably would have been high

Coheed And Cambria @ 19:30 on #13 stage

Having grabbed some food from one of the many overpriced food stands, I set about eating it whilst pleasuring my ears with some Coheed and Cambria. As they have known to be in so many performances over the years, the band were passionate and full of energy on stage, especially front man Claudio Sanchez who took his guitar and oversized hair all over the stage. It's nice to see bands so happy to be playing even when they are 43 dates into a 45 date tour. It doesn't really take any effort to sit back and enjoy Coheed and Cambria, as they are so full of innovative riffs and solos you can just be in awe of them and be pleasured by the sound entering your ears. The crowd were clearly loving every note that came at them and singing along at every opportunity. Each song was delivered just as we could have hoped and during songs like "Welcome Home" you just can't have a great time enjoying how well put together the song is. Having not listened to the band's material in far too long, their performance certainly revived my enthusiasm for the band and I'll certainly be checking them out next time they are touring this side of the pond. [8½]

Pennywise @ 20:00 on Lucky stage

The punk legends were the last to play the Lucky stage. As with Bad Religion, it seemed like most people were keen on checking out their set. Now Pennywise are another band that I am relatively unfamiliar with, mainly because I'm just not really into political fueled punk, I find it all fairly similar and often uninteresting, but I figured I'd check them out given their reputation. As I mentioned already, they weren't short on support as it seemed like most of the crowd knew every song that they played. People were bouncing all over the place to the fast paced anthems bursting from the speakers. Casting aside the fact that the same political lyrics were being spewed song after song, it was nice to hear some traditional punk music again, given the diversity of the bands that I'd watched on the tour. There was usually some kind of rant between each song, often directed at Bush which I'm getting sick of hearing so I decided I would go check out the last 10 minutes of Escape The Fate's set instead of watching Pennywise finish up. A decent performance by the band though, considering I'm not really keen. [7]

Escape The Fate @ 20:15 on Hurley.com stage

As I walked towards the Hurley.com stage I could see five guys all dressed in black, and one of them was going absolutely mental all over the stage, up and down, left and right, everywhere. It turned out to be vocalist Ronnie Radke who literally didn't stand still for the 10 or so minutes that I watched the band perform. He was like a kid who had been given too many sugary drinks. In fact he can't actually be that much older than a kid, since the whole band looked like they had an average age of about 18. The band had more energy than many of the band's I'd seen perform, which is generally typical of a post-hardcore band. Radke literally looked like a man possessed as he belted out the vocals and screamed at the crowd to go crazy and start circle pits. It was certainly a far more energetic and entertaining set than the Pennywise one I'd left to come watch these five guys from Las Vegas, so I'm glad I did. Luckily I had arrived in time to watch an awesome performance of "When I Go Out, I Want To Go Out On A Chariot Of Fire" which had the small crowd singing along. It's a shame for a band like this to be playing a stage so far away from where the majority of the crowd were and at the same time as a crowd pulling band like Pennywise. Many people would have missed out on these guys and a great show. [8]

Chiodos @ 20:30 on #13 stage

The final band to play the San Diego leg of the Warped Tour were Chiodos from Michigan. I was initially quite surprised to see them topping the bill on one of the main stages, seeing as they are not really that popular on our side of the pond, and I imagined the same would be true in the US. However, by the time they came on stage a decent amount of people came to watch them, despite a lot of people deciding to leave after the Pennywise show to get home even thought it wasn't really very late. So the band opened with "All Nereids Beware" from their debut album and got some energy back from parts of the crowd. The most noticeable thing about Chiodos is the way they seem to span so many styles of music. They have plenty of clean singing one minute, but then suddenly they burst into screams and hardcore breakdowns. The band played "Baby You Wouldn't Last A Minute On The Creek" but I don't know the rest of their song titles well enough to cite them all for you, but I can tell you that they looked like they had been itching to get on stage all day to play them. Nearer the back half of the set the crowd began to be more receptive and energetic and began moshing during the heavy parts of the songs. I think that if I had been creating the lineup I would have swapped Chiodos with Coheed who I feel would have given a more epic ending to the day, but nevertheless it was an great and enjoyable performance. [8]

Epilogue

Given it's reputation, I had very high expectations for my first experience of Warped Tour and I have to say I wasn't disappointed. The worst thing about the day was missing The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Circa Survive due to me underestimating the travel time to the venue. The organisation was fantastic, as you can imagine it would be for a tour that has spent two months solid on the road every year for 13 years. The location was awesome, great weather with palm trees lining the borders and stages ranging from intimate to large. But the truly great thing was that even though this was the penultimate date of a long and no doubt tiring tour, pretty much every band still wanted to be there and put on a great performance, and in most cases they did just that. It's a testimony to the attitudes of the bands and organisers that after such a long tour, everything still runs like it could be the first. With such a great lineup there was always a band playing that you wanted to watch and the variety of bands made the day even better. It was cool to be able to just walk around the parking lot at leisure, past all the small stages and just stop and listen to some young bands you never heard before. The standout performances, as I expected they would, came from The Almost and As I Lay Dying but the overall quality of all the bands was really very good which made for a great day. I'll definitely be attending another Warped Tour show next time I'm in the USA during the summer.

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