Living in Los Angeles, seasons are not demarcated as much by changes in temperature or what is falling from the sky. Instead of spring, summer, winter, and fall my seasons are SXSW, festival season, Rocktober, and end of year music mix-making season. Currently we are smack dab in the middle of festival season. Finances are restricting my full participation in this most joyous of seasons, but happy circumstance and good friends lead me to the Fairplex at Pomona last Friday for one of my favorite festivals, Warped Tour! This year felt a bit different for me. Instead of running around in the hot sun like a maniac trying to catch every single band I sampled and found promising, I focused on a select few. It was a year of celebrating firsts and lasts and I wanted to share a few highlights.
My favorite first: Queen Caveat
My LA band love, Queen Caveat knows how to rock so it makes sense that they would find themselves invited to take the Warped stage. I have experienced several firsts with this band and I did not want miss seeing them play their first Warped tour. The trek out to Pomona and suffering through the heat, crowds, and a few questionable musical offerings was all made worth it seeing the crowds mesmerized by the four-piece, particularly fierce front-woman, Lauren Little who drew people in by offering to share her water (smart move on a hot day). My favorite new fan had to be the front man for Japanese band, One OK Radio who had just played the adjacent stage. After greeting some fans, he stuck around and watched Queen Caveat’s entire set from backstage. Can we say One OK Radio/Queen Caveat tour through Japan?!?
My last dance with Anberlin
After Warped Tour, Anberlin are doing one massive farewell tour and then are calling it quits. I saw Anberlin play Warped Tour back in 2007 in Atlanta and remember after their set standing in a looong line to get their album, Cities, signed. I’ve seen them a handful of times, but that moment, was one of my favorites. I found it fitting to see them one more time at Warped Tour. The band came out blasting “Feel Good Drag” and I was instantly reminded how incredibly dynamic and infectious they are. I smiled ear to ear as they played several of their older tunes, brining me back to ages and Warped Tours past. I’m really going to miss this band…
The end of the moshing era
Signs prominently displayed on all the major stages emphasized the seriousness of Warped policy against moshing and crowd surfing. While I certainly appreciate this effort (and yes, it was enforced), it definitely changed the dynamic of the event which in my mind has always been closely associated with massive circle pits and rowdy crowds. While I still observed a few crowd surfers, there was no band that egged it on. Gone are the days of trying to set records for crowd surfing or mosh attendance. Although I didn’t really see any of the uber aggressive hardcore bands, I’m left wondering how those fans are celebrating that music, if not by shoving into one another…
Other notables from the event
K.Flay – I’ve been a fan of this Bay area indie hip hop artist for a few years now, but when I heard her new album Life As A Dog, I started craving another K.Flay show so I was thrilled that she was on the bill for Warped this year. Her unique style which, as best as I can describe, is a slowed down vibey hip hop, is a great fit for Warped which, despite what some people might think, does a great job at covering an array of genres.
Bayside– Bayside is one of those bands that take me on a journey through memory lane. I only caught a bit of their set, but I love their high energy performance.
The Acoustic Basement– The Acoustic Basement is one of my favorite parts of Warped Tour. I was slightly dismayed this year when I realized that I wasn’t the only one with that sentiment. Just about every time I wanted to sample an artist in that tent, I could barely even see the tops of heads through the crowd. If I could do multiple days of Warped, I would spend one just sitting in this tent all day. I discovered some great new names this year including Nick Santino, Rob Lynch, and Front Porch Step. And as long as we’re discussing acoustic acts, I also quite enjoyed This Wild Life.
One Ok Radio– These guys played right before Queen Caveat so I caught most of their set. They were great, but what really surprised me were their fans. For a band I hadn’t heard of before, they had quite the devoted audience.
And here are a few more pictures: