Vans Warped Tour 2013 stayed mostly true to the incredible experience that it always seems to offer. With a line up of first rate bands, the Denver stop of Warped attracted a mass of music-lovers from across the state. A star-studded cast of bands including Sleeping with Sirens, Memphis May Fire, The Wonder Years, The Ataris, 3OH!3, and Reel Big Fish graced the stages and completely melted faces.
Regardless of the temperature and discomfort that I know all of the bands are enduring, they all seemed to pour their hearts out into their sets. In other words, we got more than what we paid for.
A few of my favorite acts of the day were The Ataris and The Wonder Years. I might be writing a love letter to pop punk music right now, but they honestly put on the best performances that I saw all day.
The Ataris started off with one of their most famous songs called “In This Diary.” Fans new and old were crowd surfing and singing along. There was jumping and rocking out beyond my wildest dreams. They were clearly passionate. And clearly amazing performers. Pop punk isn’t dead, folks. I swear.
The words “Being grown up / Isn’t half as good as growing up / These are the best days of our lives / The only thing that matters is / Just following your heart / and eventually you’ll finally get it right” were resonating with everyone in the audience. Poppy, yet heavy guitar riffs were kept simple but powerful. The sound was just as crisp and on point as the album. Their famous cover of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” literally almost brought me to tears. It was glorious. That is all.
The Wonder Years on the other hand - say hello to the new princes of pop punk. Guitarist Casey Cavaliere and drummer Mike Kennedy are... well... hot. So that helps. Besides that, these guys absolutely rock.
They brought fiery energy to the stage and the singer, Dan Campbell was engaged with the audience. I always love to see an interactive performance. They played songs off of their new and old albums. Oldies - but goodies! They were a real treat to watch. I can say that they were one of the top 5 best performances I saw all day.
While the bands I loved absolutely killed it, I was somewhat disappointed overall in Warped Tour as a whole. Having attended for 10 years now, I have seen the deterioration of what used to be the Woodstock of punk rock. Sure - bring in other genres. Don’t forget about the core of the tour, though. Warped used to be filled with bands that people would kill to see - Bad Religion, Taking Back Sunday, The Used, etc. While the new era of post-hardcore bands ruled the lineup this year, it would have been nice to see some of the classic faces. Furthermore, there were less sponsors there than ever before. Girl’s Garage, Save A Breast, Sk8 4 Cancer - these are the brands that fans loved to engage with. They always had marketing materials and ways for people to help. Some of these brands were missed this year.
Also - tell the merch people to chin up. Chatting with merch guys used to be fun and interesting. Hardly any of them spoke to me. I can imagine it’s tough to get people to support the bands with deadbeat merch people.
Maybe Kevin Lyman will see this someday and take this to heart. I’m not sure why a lot of the bands drop the tour. Could it be the tough conditions of Warped? Sure - but Lyman and the crew should take care of these guys, or else many of the familiar faces that support Warped’s decaying tradition will phase out for good.
Enjoy the photos, though! Hopefully next year, Lyman will find a way to revive the rock n’ roll tradition of Warped Tour. Less DJ’s, please. That’s my final outcry.