The motto around these parts is “Everything is bigger in Texas,” So when a festival such as the Vans Warped Tour comes around, it fits perfectly within the landscape of a hot Texas summer. With plenty of bands, plenty of kids and plenty of musical mayhem, I was on hand for the Dallas date at Smirnoff Music Centre at Fair Park.
Now in its 13th year, this is by far the best tour where you will definitely get your money’s worth. Over 40 plus bands with six stages with such a melting pot of styles from emo and punk to metal and hard-core, any kid with 30 bucks in his pocket is guaranteed a great time. The only downside is the dreaded Texas sun and all the humidity is can muster to make your day not so pleasant.
Obviously, giving you a play-by-play on every band would be insane but what I will give you some insight of the great (and not so great) performances of the day.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus—A bit disappointed with their set. I mean, their hit single “Face Down” was a definite winner among the crowd but the sound came off close to a poor man’s Used. I didn’t see anything that set them apart from the other bands doing the same screamo shtick.
New Found Glory—Ok, I can’t stand Jordan Pundik’s voice at all. The nasal I-haven’t-quite-conquered-puberty-yet is so annoying. He had just better be glad that his band is great live. I’m not a fan by any means but NFG knows how to get the kids moving. The cover of “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None The Richer was brave to say the least.
The Human Abstract—They put on a musician’s clinic for everyone. Drummer Brett Powell demonstrated plenty of killer drumming and it’s always nice to see a good pit going when a band is playing. They left a good impression overall so much so that I picked up their CD at their merch booth.
Pepper—Seriously, Sublime called and they want their music back. If I smoked lots of pot and didn’t give a crap about what I listened to, this would be my favorite band. Now that I think about it, I want the 10 minutes of my life back that I wasted listening to them.
Big D and the Kids Table—First off, kudos for keeping the rude boy flag flying. It can’t be Warped Tour without a good ska band and Big D did not fail. I know it’s a challenge to get the kids skankin’ in the hot sun but they didn’t seem to mind as they played a tight set.
Haste The Day—Wow, what a let down. I don’t what it was but it sounded plain and generic. I have seen them before and they were great but their set was so bland. I miss their old singer who seem to inject some venom in their music. In my opinion, new singer Stephen Keech doesn’t quite fit and it comes off sounding like every other metalcore banding still doing the sing/scream combo.
Throwdown—If there is one band that can wake everyone up in the middle of the day, it’s these guys. Paying homage to Dimebag Darrell (of Pantera/Damageplan fame) with a great cover of “A New Level,” Dave Peters seem to conjure up a nice impression of Phil Ansalmo’s trademark growls. I’ve never been a fan of their recorded stuff but live they always deliver.
Yellowcard—See my review of New Found Glory. I can’t stand the singer’s voice but again, the kids love these guys so what do I know? Either way, it a bit bland even with a violin player.
Killswitch Engage—They kept their set nice and neat, sticking to their six best-known songs. A definite buzz in the crowd as this one of the most anticipated sets of the day. When they are on it, they deliver one of best live shows by any band and this day was no different. It was good to see the infamous Adam D deliver his on-stage banter, offending plenty of girls and parents alike.
Bottom Line: Of all the tour packages that this summer has to offer, the Vans Warped Tour offers the most bang for your buck. This was my 4th time attending and I really don’t see any other tour that brings such a great assortment of bands for a price near and dear to a poor man’s budget. Kudos to Kevin Lyman for sure.