Warped Tour 2012: A Darwinistic Perpective

At 10:45am, the Garden State Parkway was pretty much a replicate of the game “Unblock Me.” If you happened to have your windows down, it sounded like every metalcore band was playing simultaneously, and when you looked out your window there were kids banging their heads in wayfarers and disgruntled parents…just shaking their heads in discontent.

Inside the PNC Arts Center, every grassy knoll on the way to the actual parking lot was filled with cars, which I decided looked more like “Unblock Me,” since cars were parked every which way. I saw a few cars that I swore were going to roll over down hills from the risky incline people chose to park on. However, this was Warped Tour. These things just come with the territory.

It’s always interesting to me to watch the crowds evolve as well as the bands. Back when Warped Tour was an infant, punk, ska, and pop punk nursed and breastfed it whiskey and beer.  Over the years, it has become trendy; shimmied into skinny jeans and threw on a plaid, slim-fitted button down in. But change is never bad and Kevin’s festival has been going strong with the constantly progressing generation.

Blood on the Dance Floor is a shining, flamboyant example of the transformation of this generation. They were the first band I caught at the festival. And let me tell you, it wasn’t hard to miss. Let me list what they managed to get away with:

  1. Ejaculated on the audience with enormous foam spewing cannons
  2. Make out session with vocalist Jayy Von Monroe and infamous pop star Jeffree Star
  3. Vocalist/guitarist, Dahvie Vanity, mooned the audience shortly after he used an inflatable turtle to surf across them
  4. Play the entire “Get down on your knees and tell me you love me…” scene from Home Alone

It was pretty much like The Rocky Horror Picture Show with breakdowns and their fans, which all owned the BOTDF swag, loved every second of it.

Aside from this new noise, I caught those bands that resembled the wonderful pop-punk generation that bred back in day. Over a sea of people, I spotted a ginger-fro that could only belong to We The Kings’ singer, Travis Clark. As I made my way to the barricade, “Check Yes Juliet” started and there was an uproar in the crowd and bodies came flying to the front while Clark jumped into the discourse to give out hugs.
Four Year Strong was amongst those in this genre, but of course they bring that raw edge that gets you pumped full of enough adrenaline to put your head through a wall. What I love about these lumberjack-looking dudes is the amount of heart and soul they emanate while they play that their fans whole-heartedly reflect right back. They both go back and forth singing their lungs out to each other.

Now let me continue to the hardcore/metal section of the tour. First off, Motionless In White is a name you’re going to get acquainted with if you haven’t already.

The crowd assembled at 2:10 although they weren’t scheduled to go on until 2:35. And throughout those 25 minutes, the crowd was chanting for them. Once they walked on stage, I swear I thought it I was looking at Dee Snyder’s soul that had inhabited Marilyn Manson’s body, Edward Scissorhands, and Top Dollar from The Crow. As soon as they started, I quickly found out what they were about even though from their appearance, I expected something more industrial and a bit more gothic. But MIW gave it all, so hard. During their song “Puppets” where they quote Morrissey, Chris Cerulli (lead singer) spoke to the crowd saying, “I have one request, make a circle pit for me.” Sure enough, kids went nuts running around the sound booth.

These guys weren’t the only bands that dressed up for Warped Tour. Falling In Reverse were drenched head to toe in a modern version of 80’s Hair Metal fashion. They had the guy-liner, the tight leather pants, the bandanas that wrapped up their time-consumed, stylist-done hair, and of course the cutoff jean vests covered in patches. FIR had it down pat. They even had a bulldog sitting on the side of the stage with the biggest gold spikes around its neck I have ever seen. Despite the drama and controversy, fans seem to be 110% dedicated to lead singer Ronnie Radke. The crowd chanted, “Fuck Craig Mabbid, fuck that bitch!” Radke and the band reimbursed loyalty with gratitude encased in a sick ass set. They rocked the hell out of the stage; Radke even put the mic down to engage in a breakdancing session.

Guys weren’t the only ones that stirred up some commotion in the metal world at Warped Tour. Iwrestledabearonce tore shit apart AND did it on the smaller stage (check out my interview with them for some interesting insight on that). Even though they didn’t have Krysta Cameron throwing down some serious gutturals, her replacement, Courtney LaPlante (member of Unicron, which you should totally check out) was an ample relief for the band. IWABO may get criticized a lot for their style, but I invite those haters to come see them live and play in their pit. IWABO’s breakdowns are just so tasty.

Speaking of tasty music, Of Mice And Men were another band that quenched my thirst for some harsh twist-and-shout. Singer, Austin Carlile, was vicious. His stage presence is intense; the way he reacts with his own music and the way he reacts with his fans. This is a band that lets their fans know how much they appreciate them. Right off the bat, Carlile shooed the photographers away, “I’m playing a show for you, not for the photographers. I want the photographers out of here.” Then during “Let Live,” Carlile confessed, ”Thank you for being here and making my dreams come true…we are the youngest band on this fucking stage and I have something to say…it’s because of you and you and you…”

It’s probably hard to find the perfect song to come out to, and I’m sure a lot of debate goes into choosing the exact one for the entire band to agree on. Kind of like when Every Time I Die came out to “Get Ready For This” by 2 Unlimited, all I thought was, “Wow, what a great song to pump up the crowd and jog out to!” But for real, it was hilarious because as soon as they grabbed their instruments, “No Son Of Mine” exploded as if someone had shoved a very large fork inside a very large outlet. ETID live is comparable to monkeys on a crack high in the middle of a corral. I don’t think there was a second where any of the members of that band was standing still…even the monstrous, handlebar-mustached guitarist. Although there was a smaller crowd and they played on a smaller stage, the crowd was making enough ruckus that equaled out to the Four Year Strong crowd (they played at the same time). Frontman, Keith Buckley, jumped on top of the audience, and while standing on hands and heads, he commanded, “Get the fuck up here and grab the mic!” At that point there were kids literally crawling up bodies as if climbing one of those rock walls to get to him and sing.

But these guys weren’t the only ones with the awesome idea of coming out to an epic song. Taking Back Sunday strolled out to the Lion King song, “The Circle Of Life,” like the proud little lions they are. Out of every other band I’d seen at Warped Tour, TBS had the most press and a doubled amount of security during their set. To me, seeing TBS was almost like seeing a dear, old friend especially since they haven’t played Warped Tour with their original line-up in years. Lazzara heartwarmingly announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, John Nolan.” And watching them now was just like watching them back in 2003, and since then I still swear that Adam Lazzara received his BA in mic swinging and graduated top of his class. What really impressed me was not the mic swinging, but it was how every single person in front of TBS knew every single word. That includes the security, the press, and of course the fans of which extended the furthest back and mirrored the movie 300 with less abs and possibly the same amount of clothing in some circumstances.

Overall, this Warped Tour was an experience that left you chewing nails and sprouting chest hair. Although it has gotten a bit more metal, it’s still just too good to pass up. The bands still play with the same passion and intensity and fans still continue to eat it up and sacrifice themselves in a ten-hour day in the heat.

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