Warped Tour 2016
with Yellowcard, Sleeping With Sirens, Less Than Jake, Knuckle Puck, Issues, Tonight Alive, and more
Tinker Field; Orlando, FL • July 2, 2016
by Jen Cray
Change is good. Without it, we would never evolve out of our diapers, or out of our tumultuous teenage years. Change is growth, is evolution, and, as resistant as many of us are to it, it’s a necessity of life… and that goes, too, for the Warped Tour. The music has changed, as have the styles and trends, and there’s a Parents reverse-daycare tent instead of a skate ramp, but at it’s core the annual summer day camp tour is still about unity and freedom. Fitting then that it’s cavalry of controlled chaos pulled into Orlando during the fourth of July weekend.
Sweat soaked and sunburned, at least until the storm clouds rolled in and emptied out on us, the Warped Tour day is a scorcher. Know it, embrace it, find joy in it. Don’t — please, I beg of you — spend half your day hiding beneath shaded trees, or updating your Facebook status beneath the concrete coverage of the stadium that serves as the entrance gate to the festival you paid to come to. Venture out into the field, see bands you’ve never heard of, or bands you think suck (they may surprise you), or just wander around people watching. The updates about how you’re having the time of your life at Warped Tour can wait until after you actually go and experience Warped Tour.
That’s one change I can’t stand behind, but one that does make my smile bright is the early set time post-er who made my life a whole lot easier this year. Thank you, random girl on the tour stop’s Orlando event page, for posting a photo of the set times within minutes of the 11am door time. It’s thanks to you I ran out the door and hauled ass to the venue in time to catch Yellowcard’s 12pm set.
Having just last week announced their imminent breakup, after one last upcoming Fall tour, Yellowcard were high on my list of priorities for the day, if only to document them on their victory lap. I expected an amped up audience and a band firing on all cylinders (which I got), but what I didn’t expect was to be impressed. Time has tamed my cynical ears, it seems, and the emo pop punk of yesteryear no longer tickles my gag reflex like it once did.
With that newly opened mind, I approached this year’s tour as a tourist. I hit every stage, I took in as much as I could, regardless of what sort of sounds were being thrust in my direction. The Monster Energy Party Zone, this year jacked up to include 2 stages and it’s own designated area, was where the heaviness parked it — as well as where the circle pit came to fruition. There was a whole faction of fans who probably never left this area, making it a festival within a festival — one where Motionless in White, Ice Nine Kills, and Chelsea Grin were all top billers. It was also within these muddy confines that I spotted a full on teddy bear in the pit. #onlyatWarpedTour
The afternoon was awash with the old school ska punk stylings of Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, and Pepper on the Journeys Left Foot stage, while the neighboring Journeys Right Foot stage housed the more current conglomeration of ADD smash-ups. Where sweet pop (Tonight Alive) can collide with post-screamo (Issues) and everyone is happy. With feminine falsetto vocals that slip and slide from clean to scream with the flip of frontman Kellin Quinn’s pretty hair, Sleeping With Sirens are a Warped Tour fan’s wet dream. Aggressive, but adorable. Cue the crowd losing their minds.
The smaller stages are where future headliners cultivate a following and pop punk darlings Knuckle Puck is my bet for “next breakout band.” These young dudes hustled up quite an audience, even with their set competing with some sought after main stage acts. Imagine the sugary hooks of pop punk with vocals that have a little more bite. More bite than Waterparks, whose more traditional emo style may feel a few years too late, but the younger crowd certainly seemed ready for its comeback.
For the first time, Orlando’s Full Sail University had its own stage and it was there I caught the colorful flamboyance of Mother Feather, which promised Yeah Yeah Yeahs but didn’t quite deliver. Maybe their shtick works better indoors, under stage lights, but out in the afternoon daylight it fizzled. They get props for trying something outrageous, though.
At the end of the day, isn’t that what Warped Tour is all about? Where a Teddy Bear can mosh, the woman onstage can wear black tape pasties, and a band can wear colorful ski masks even in 100 degree heat (Masked Intruder). Warped Tour: where fans can strip down to their skimpies and crowd surf safely, or bring their inflatable alligator to the party. It’s a strange world, one that brings me back summer after summer.
For full photo galleries of Warped Tour go to: jencray.com.