Last week, the AP staff embarked on our annual field trip to Warped Tour in Cleveland. We already told you which songs we hoped we’d see live while there, but as anyone who has ever attended knows, Warped is a place of discovery, and you often run smack into the crowd of something you didn’t even know you were seeking while there. Here are some of the best songs we saw performed at Warped.
Rachel Campbell [RC]
Scott Heisel [SH]
Brian Kraus [BK]
Bridjet Mendyuk [BJM]
Brittany Moseley [BM]
Cassie Whitt [CW]
ARCHITECTS (UK) – “Black Blood”
Not only did vocalist Sam Carter have something to say between songs—whether gracious or motivational—but he and his bandmates also held the crowd in the palm of their hands, forcing even the most reluctant of crossed-armed bystanders to their knees only to be raised from the concrete to jump along to the kick-off of one of their songs. Many of their fans rightfully ask why this band aren’t bigger in the States. We bet their captivating Warped sets this summer could change that. [CW]
WILLIAM BECKETT – “ABOUT A GIRL”
Even though I’m totally digging William Beckett’s debut solo album, Genuine & Counterfeit, a part of me still misses his long-haired days spent fronting the Academy Is… That feeling was even during Beckett’s performance on the Acoustic Basement stage. (TAI were one of the bands I saw at my first Warped Tour way back in 2006.) Fortunately for me, Beckett was feeling a bit nostalgic as well because his second song was “About A Girl,” from TAI’s third and final full-length Fast Times At Barrington High. He even pulled solo artist/Acoustic Basement manager Brian Marquis onstage to sing with him. His hair may be a bit shorter, but if you closed your eyes, you could have sworn it was 2008. [BM]
BRING ME THE HORIZON – “House Of Wolves”
Bring Me The Horizon had one of the biggest crowds at Warped Tour this year, not to mention two of the biggest circle pits. My personal favorite song off Sempiternal is “House Of Wolves” and singer Oli Sykes did not disappoint. In fact, he stopped singing the intro to the song to tell the crowd he wanted two circle pits in the front of the crowd and around the VIP tent. As the song progressed into the chorus, everyone at the stage sang along, except for the girl crying in front of me. I assume it was because “House Of Wolves” is her favorite song too. [BJM]
THE EARLY NOVEMBER - "Frayed In Doubt"
With a 30-minute set time, the Early November had to pull wisely from across the board. Of the new school add-ons, "Frayed In Doubt" rightfully made the cut. Guitarist Joe Marro barrels in with a sliced-thin riff as a prelude to Ace Enders' outreached vocals that sound like he's feeling his way out of the dark. When his voice cracks and crumbles at the end, it's even more heartbreaking live. [BK]
ITCH – “London Is Burning”
Itch, former frontman for the King Blues turned solo artist, delivered a set filled with fast-paced political storytelling. “London Is Burning” in particular decries the class wars in his hometown with contagious ferocity that burns with the anger of a mob of young people becoming cognizant of their social standing and rebelling against unjust authority. The reckless abandon and violence of the song pairs with a pounding chorus that makes for a perfect Molotov cocktail of resistance to which anyone can grasp and subscribe, especially when it’s delivered with Itch’s fierce conviction and energy. The rapper may be injured, but he’s definitely still throwing down this summer. [CW]
LETLIVE. – “BANSHEE (GHOST FAME)”
Letlive.’s set was such a brutal, heatstroke-inducing flash that it’s amazing I remember any song they played. Amid all the onstage chaos, my ears perked up when frontman Jason Aalon Butler introduced this song, the opener (and one of my favorites) from their new album The Blackest Beautiful. I’m still bummed I missed Butler’s hangman stunt, but the good thing about a letlive. set is each song involves some stunt of pure madness. Whenever “Banshee” hits the 33-second mark, I have a sudden urge to lose all sense of decorum and thrash around like a madwoman. Of course, seeing as it was 90 degrees last Thursday, I kept my thrashing to, umm…. none. But I swear I was doing it on the inside! [BM]
MAN OVERBOARD – “White Lies”
Man Overboard drew the last slot at the Tilly’s stage, where some fans had been standing for more than an hour. Talk about Warped dedication. The band gave the overheated crowd a fun set, especially right before “White Lies” when they asked everyone in the audience to crowd surf, and thus the ruckus began. Vocalist/Bassist Nik Bruzzese told the crowd to “stop being pussies and put the security guards to work.” All of a sudden, security guards started picking off fans like petals on a daisy. About thirty seconds into the song, ManO had to tell the fans to stop because people were crowd surfing when there wasn’t even music playing. It's okay ManO, it was fun while it lasted! [BJM]
MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK - "INSIDE OUT"
The most boring thing I can ever watch at Warped Tour is a band doing a "greatest hits" set. Yeah, I get it, you're in competition with a lot of other bands at the same time and want to draw in as many people as possible, but sticking strictly to your biggest singles is boring. Luckily, Motion City Soundtrack shook things up with a 10-song set that included some of their most popular songs, a few deep cuts and a brand new song called "Inside Out," which is an angular dance-punk number filtered through Justin Pierre's signature quirk-pop songwriting. [SH]
SET IT OFF - “@REPLY”
Despite the fact that I have listened to and seen Set It Off perform live since their more pop-punk days circa 2008, this debatably “old school” song was the highlight of their set for more reasons than that. “@Reply” was the only track performed that was not from SIO’s most recent Cinematics, having hailed from 2011’s Horrible Kids EP, so it was mildly surprising they chose to end their set with it. The band has introduced more theatrical elements to their sound and stage presence throughout the years, including vocalist Cody Carson’s tendency to join the crowd. Carson literally walked across fans at one point, but he ended this track and their set by jumping into the audience and leading them up the hill to the band’s merch tent. [RC]
SLEEPING WITH SIRENS Ft. MGK – “Alone”
As if Sleeping With Sirens headlining Warped Tour wasn’t enough to get the crowd excited, they pulled some friends on stage to aid in the entertainment. Matty Mullins of Memphis May Fire joined SWS as he has done throughout Warped Tour, but “Congratulations” isn’t the only track from SWS’s newly released Feel to feature guest vocals. Machine Gun Kelly offers a few verses in “Alone,” and the Cleveland native showed up to perform them live for an audience of ecstatic showgoers, which aided in providing the climax of SWS’s set. [RC]
THE STORY SO FAR - "Things I Can't Change"
I'm a sucker for pop-punk openers that do nothing more than instigate hype. That's exactly what the Story So Far's "Things I Can't Change" did as the centerpiece of their Warped set in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Walnut Creek, California's finest seem wound up since their last record, and boy do they explode out of the gates. A stubble-length of punk shredding meets Parker Cannon's mouthful of tuneful decries, but the compact chorus is the main attraction if the amount of bodies caught by yellow-shirted security was any indication. [BK]
THE WONDER YEARS, "DISMANTLING SUMMER"
My favorite song on one of my favorite albums of 2013 thus far was damn near perfect in a live setting. Even though it was 90-something degrees (with, like, 1,800 percent humidity), Soupy & Co. didn't show any signs of weakness or fatigue, totally nailing that killer "I'm in an airpooooooooooort!" harmony. Bonus: It sent so many chills down my spine, my core temperature dropped a few degrees. [SH]