Van’s Warped Tour 2012
August 5th—Rose Quarter Riverfront in Portland, OR
Van’s Warped Tour has been one of the must-see music events since its beginning in 1995. Each year, tour founder Kevin Lyman and his crew bring a varied group of bands together to tour and play music all across the United States. I was able to attend both the Seattle and Portland dates of the tour this year, and during my two days there my love for some bands was solidified even more, but at the same time I also found some new bands I enjoy.
(Because I can’t remember the exact layout of the day, I’m going to break down what bands I managed to see based on what stage they played. Otherwise, the bands are listed alphabetically—NOT in order of preference.)
Breathe Carolina: While holding my spot for Yellowcard I was able to hear Breathe Carolina’s entire set from a distance, and as I mentioned before they’re very solid live. I’m not a huge fan of their music, but they have an amazing live show and great stage presence as well as a talented backing band.
Sleeping With Sirens: Due to scheduling issues and the poor layout of the venue I was only able to catch a couple songs from Sleeping With Sirens’ set—however, those few songs impressed me. The musicianship is clear, and they put on a good live show. Vocalist Kellin Quinn’s voice seemed a little strained, and he seemed a little tired (it was the end of the tour and his second set of the day), but otherwise it was very good. Also, getting to see guitarist Jesse Lawson propose to his girlfriend from stage was cool to see—congratulations to them!
Streetlight Manifesto: While waiting in line for water I heard two songs of Streetlight Manifesto’s set. Despite having a smaller crowd than most of the other main stage bands they still sounded great, and their ska-punk songs translated well live.
Falling In Reverse: I’m not a fan of Falling In Reverse at all, but I have to admit that the band does know how to play their instruments. While walking past the Soul stage I heard a song from their set and the musicianship was impressive.
Four Year Strong: Again, while waiting for water I heard beard-core masters Four Year Strong closing out their set. While the first song was a little lackluster and received poorly by the crowd, the band ended on a strong note with set-closer “Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)”.
Taking Back Sunday: Having already seen Taking Back Sunday the night before, I decided to hold a good spot instead of seeing them again; however, I was able to hear their set clearly from a distance and they sounded the same as the night before (which is a good thing).
We The Kings: So that I could get a good spot for Yellowcard I went to the Rio stage early and worked my way into the crowd for We The Kings as they began their set. As I mentioned in the Seattle Warped Tour summary, the band knows how to work the crowd and sound spot-on live. Even the new songs come across pretty well live, but the highlight of their set was a passionate performance of “Check Yes Juliet”.
Yellowcard: Because of their stellar performance the day before I decided to see Yellowcard again on Sunday, which was a choice I don’t regret one bit. Both the crowd and the band was even better the second time around, and their set was easily one of my top sets for the weekend. If you get the chance to see them, I would suggest doing it—they’ll be on tour this fall, in support of their new album Southern Air, with The Wonder Years and We Are The In Crowd. (Picture of the band performing below)
For Today: I overheard a song from their set as I waited for another band at the Tilly’s stage next door, and they sounded almost exactly like they do on record. I was highly impressed with the quality of their sound live and the band’s talent.
Funeral Party: Some bands are better live than they are on record, Funeral Party being one of those. In preparation for the tour I had listened to their album and wasn’t overly impressed by their indie-dance music, but they really did sound good live and I can see why many people enjoyed their set over the summer.
I Fight Dragons: After missing most of their set the day before, I had to see their entire set and see what other tricks this chiptune-rock unit had up their sleeves. Their live show tricks and toys were very enjoyable live, and worked remarkably well within the music.
Vanna: I’m probably not the best person to review music similar to the Vanna, but from what I could tell they were pretty good—they had an energetic live show, solid musicianship, and good crowd interaction during the one song of their set I saw while walking by.
We Are The In Crowd: I ended up seeing most of the bands I really enjoyed in Seattle again in Portland, and We Are The In Crowd fit into that category. On the band’s side of the equation they were even better in Portland than in Seattle, with endless energy on-stage during their flawless performance. The crowd was very sleepy during the entire set though, but the band did a great job of not letting the poor reaction get to them.
House of Marley
Tomorrow’s Bad Seed: I heard a song from this reggae group’s set as I walked through the venue, and similarly to Vanna these guys did a good job—it’s just not my thing. They had a good turn-out though and the crowd seemed to be enjoying their show a lot.
Captain Capa: I caught the closer of Captain Capa’s electro-pop, and it seemed like it had been a good show. Lots of energy on and off-stage and the music was very accessible and catchy. I would’ve liked to catch more of his set if given the chance.
I Call Fives: This was another repeat set from the day before, but it was definitely worth it. They put on just as good of a show the second time around, and being familiar with the setlist made it an even more enjoyable experience. Despite playing during the hottest part of the day the band gave 110% for the entire set.
Matt Toka: Another set that I sat through so that I had a good spot for the band playing after. Toka’s backing band was extremely talented, and Toka himself had a lot of energy and interaction with the crowd. Not really my thing, but they seemed to be having a lot of fun playing and I can’t hold that against them.
Tonight Alive: Tonight Alive actually was one of the last bands to play in Portland, and it was the best way to close out my day. Just as good as the night before, and an absolute blast from start to finish. One of the set highlights was guitarist Jake Hardy getting into the most pit during their “Little Lion Man”. Oh, did I mention he continued playing guitar while in the most pit? Yeah, it was pretty cool.
Twin Atlantic: I began and ended my day at the Kevin Says at the Portland stop of Warped Tour. Scottish alt-rock band Twin Atlantic was the first band of the day for me, and having never heard them before they blew me away. This is a talented group of guys who know how to put on a show and how to play their instruments. Their lead guitar player was especially fun to watch as he shredded up and down the fret board.
Born Of Osiris: As with Vanna and Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds, I could tell BOO was doing a good job, it just didn’t appeal to me. For a band on the Ernie Ball stage they had an impressive crowd, despite playing against metalcore giants Miss May I.
Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!: I caught the same part of their set as I did the night before while on my way to a different part of the venue. I was impressed again with their live presence and showmanship. Even though I’m not really a fan of the metalcore genre, they are one of the more accessible acts in that scene.
Fireworks: In the distance I could hear part of Fireworks’ set, and they sounded really good. The vocalist was especially spot-on during their performance. Unfortunately, I only got the chance to hear the one song from their set.
Transit: After seeing Transit on the Glamour Kills tour I was won over. Playing a blend of early 2000’s Midwest-emo and modern pop-punk this band puts on a great show and writes some great songs. I walked in a few songs for their set, but did manage to hear most of the songs I was familiar with. The picture is of Transit’s vocalist surfing on the crowd during their set closer.
Kate Morgan: This Canadian singer-songwriter was a nice break during the day as she performed her acoustic-pop songs to a growing crowd within the Acoustic Basement. Even though her set was briefly shut down for safety reasons (more on that in the end) she and her band managed to keep a positive attitude and put on a good show.
Koji: On my way past the Acoustic Basement I heard a song from Koji, and stopped to listen for a while. He’s a very talented songwriter and he put on an engaging acoustic show for a pretty good-sized crowd.
Onward, Etc: I spent a good amount of time in the Acoustic Basement, and one of the acts I saw during that time was Onward, Etc. Describing themselves as “rowdy folk”, Onward played a lively set to a packed tent (possibly because they played immediately before Yellowcard?). By the end of their set most members of the audience were bobbing their heads and clapping along to the beat.
Sleeping With Sirens: I was really looking forward to this acoustic set, but after getting forced out of the tent by fan-girls I decided to explore the venue instead. The one song of their set I did hear sounded pretty good, but lacked the energy of some of the other acoustic sets played that day.
Yellowcard: Seeing one of my favorite bands play less than a yard from my face was a priceless experience. Playing a song from each of their past releases (not including One For The Kids), Yellowcard put on an intimate and memorable set for a tent packed with fans young and old.
Between both days, I managed to see almost every band I had wanted to see, along with seeing some new bands as well as double sets from some of my favorites. A big thank you to Kevin Lyman and the Van’s Warped Tour staff, the staff at both venues, and the bands for making this a summer to remember for people all over the States.
I do however have a complaint about the Portland stop of the tour. Both the location and layout of the venue was terrible, and if possible should not be used in the future. Due to over-crowding and lack of open space many people were turned away at the gate and the entire event was almost shut down for being unsafe and a fire hazard. On top of that, the poor layout made it impossible to cross the venue (about two blocks length) in less than an hour until the day had begun to end.
Besides that one problem, this was a great day and I can’t wait for the festivities next summer!
If you went to Warped, what date did you go to? And what bands did you see? What bands blew you away, and what ones were disappointing to see? Leave a comment in the replies with your thoughts!