In its 17th year, the Warped Tour 2011 made its annual pilgrimage to the Pomona Fairgrounds, and this year was very much like the others, it was HOT! The heat was insanely intense, humidity took it to a Death Valley, Serengeti / Africa kind of hot! A perfect excuse for thousands that attended to show up in their shortiest of short-shorts, bikini tops and proudly sportin’ their tattoos and piercings. Not to mention the plethora of handouts everyone was getting from the animal right activists, and let’s not forget the maze of merchandise stands. You could get side tracked there all day and nearly forget there were bands playing.
This years lineup had a good mix of metal, metalcore, punk, reggae, and even some hip hop. A little somethin’-somethin’ for everyone. After crusin’ the fairgrounds we finally made it to the show. By then, there were mosh-pit circles a-formin’; insane dancing was the order of the day. Although there were several bands, the ones that stood out, were the ones most came to see.
The UK band Asking Alexandria who is supporting their latest release Reckless & Relentless opened some eyes. Not resting on their laurels from the JKL show a little while back, the band took the fairgrounds by storm. They got the crowd into their set really fast with their unique metalcore style. Jesus didn’t build their hotrod, but you would think he did with the high velocity sound that drove the mosh-pit into a frenzy, especially when Danny Worsnop got into The Final Episode. Good showing by these lads!
Another band that the crowd seemed to be enamored with was Dance Gavin Dance. Half their set was from Downtown Battle Mountain and the other half was from Downtown Battle Mountain Part II which worked well. This band is unique because they have two lead singers. Jonny Craig handles the clean vocals while Jonathan Mess belts out the screamed lyrics. They both harmonize well together. They ended their set with And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman, which is from the first Downtown Battle and a crowd favorite. They didn’t disappoint with this hit as it was played clean but with a lot of passion.
A name that even the not so hardcore fan identified with was Unwritten Law. They had a good mix of old songs such as Seein’ Red and Save Me, they also included Starships and Apocalypse and Nevermind off of their latest album Swan. Their regular bass player Pat Kim wasn’t there. The bassist who filled in was decent but not as good as Kim in our humble opinion. The crowd didn’t seem to mind, they love them nonetheless.
The band we were most looking forward to checking out was Less Than Jake. They too had a nice mix of songs which included some of their hits like The Science of Selling Yourself Short and The Ghosts of You and Me. They even played some joke songs such as the Animaniacs Theme Song and the Spongebob Square Pants Theme Song. The great part about Less Than Jake was their between the songs banter between singer and guitarist Chris Demakes and bassist/ vocalist Roger Manganelli. Their comments were hilarious. At one point they said they just got back from Texas, Las Vegas and New Mexico and they exclaimed, “You better be thankful you live in Southern California. I’d rather go to a prison in Mississippi than go back to those places.” Manganelli then began singing the Deliverance dueling banjos song. Overall their set was one of the best of the day.
The largest crowd showed up for August Burns Red. They were the hardest and loudest band of the day. Lead singer Jake Luhrs belts out screamed lyric after screamed lyric which worked well with the super chunky guitar riffs. I don’t think most of the crowd could hear well after their set, the mosh-pit gave their performance a very enthusiastic thumbs up!
Another notable band was Of Mice and Men. The crowd for their show was pretty large considering they played on one of the furthest stages from the parking lot. Lead singer Austin Carlile used to be the lead man for another band at the Warped Tour Attack Attack! After leaving Attack Attack! Carlile started Of Mice and Men. This is another band that featured two lead singers. Bassist John Holgado handles the clean vocals while Carlile handles the screaming. As with Dance Gavin Dance the duo work well together harmonizing.
No matter what the weather is, or who’s on the bill, the Vans Warped Tour shows no signs of slowing down. It remains one of the most anticipated and premier summer events for the die hard music fan.
For more information about the bands, when the tour will be in your neck of the woods or everything else you could possibly know about the Warped Tour, and a great organization that supports the tour (Music Saves Lives), please visit www.vanswarpedtour.com, www.musicsaveslives.org or www.tnnradio.org.