As schools start to let kids out for the summer and the weather starts changing, the Vans Warped Tour kicked off in royal fashion Friday afternoon. With a venue change from previous years from White River Amphitheater to the north end parking lot of Century Link Field, Seattle filled up with a massive diverse crowd.
The north end parking lot at Century Link field was packed with seven different stages, merchants selling random products as well as some activist organizations taking part in the Vans Warped Tour. The entire layout was a slight bit confusing from previous years but after walking the site, it was easy to figure it out. All of the people I saw were being very kind and tolerant of everyone. The overall atmosphere of the Vans Warped Tour was that everyone was welcome and treated equal.
Down from the entrance was a giant inflatable sign with the band line up and running order for each stage. Paper schedules were also printed and for sale for two dollars. The printed schedules also came with markers so that you could highlight which bands you wanted to see. After looking at the schedule you could really tell which stages were for which style.
The Skullcandy stage seemed to host many Indy and up and coming bands. The one band I got to cover from the stage was Forget Your Friends. The female fronted rock band drew a lot of attention since their stage was closest to the gate as many passerby’s stood around and watched the set. The band certainly knew how to attract an audience and they owned it.
The Journeys left and right foot stage hosted some of the more mainstream popular acts as well as some of that classic and veteran Warped Tour bands. One of the hit bands on the Journeys left foot stage that I personally got to cover was CKY. The band pulled in a rather large audience who kept shouting “CKY!CKY!” before the band even came on. Vocalist Chad Ginsburg announced how happy they were to get to play on Warped Tour again after 17 years. The audience members became even more excited after hearing that, then CKY continued on and rocked the rest of their 30 minute set.
The Hard Rock stage featured a good mix of young up coming bands all the way to well established artists. Opening up that stage was Fire From The Gods. This band was a great opener and set the intensity level at a high point. With Fire From The Gods drawing in a crowd, a good portion of the audience stuck around for the next act, Doll Skin. The ladies killed it. With a very punk rock vibe and chicks can do anything attitude Doll Skin blew myself and others away. These ladies are definitely a band to watch out for. Valient Thorr played the stage as well later one in the day, again another rocking set. They got the crowd warmed up and anxious for the next band up. Following them was California punk’s Strung Out. The band put on a high energy set with a lot of audience participation.
The Full Sail stage hosted what I could say was a menagerie of bands from all different genres. The stage was a little hidden but once fans located it, they knew that the bands on this stage were going to be some hidden gems. The band I covered was hardcore band Knocked Loose. I was talking to security before the set started and I asked them how crazy it had been over on that stage throughout the day. The one security guard told me it was pretty relaxed with about 8 crowd surfers total. As soon as the first note hit everything changed. Immediately the audience turned into a rabid force of energy as a pit opened up and crowd surfers started coming up and over the barricade. Needless to say, it was not relaxed from that point on until the set was over. Knocked Loose has a very dedicated fan base and it showed by that performance. They are a must see band anytime they come through your area.
The final two stages were the Monster Energy north and south stages. These stages showcased the harder and heavier portion of the Vans Warped Tour. One of the first bands to play on the north stage was Being As An Ocean. I had never heard of this band before, but because of their performance I won’t forget them. Vocalist Joel Quartuccio took it upon himself to make a very open environment a personal and intimate place for the audience members. He stood on the security barrier for two songs and then wandered into the audience to perform along side them as well. It was quite a spectacle to see. Following them a few bands later was Fit For A King. They had a very high energy level that caught the attention of many people walking by who stuck around to check out what the band offered. Also on that stage was The Acacia Strain. This band brought the aggression out of the crowd as vocalist Vincent Bennett let loose a barrage of guttural vocals on the crowd, quickly turning the audience into a storm of flying fists. The band put on a great performance and really represented the deathcore scene. The best part about the Monster Energy stages was that they were right next to each other so as soon as one heavy band ended another started up right after.
On the Monster Energy south stage I got to cover a few different bands. One of which was After The Burial. The Midwest natives brought their one of a kind sound to a crazed and rambunctious audience. One of the big highlights of their set came when Vocalist Anthony Notarmaso called for a wall of death. As soon as he said go, both sides collided into each other with massive force. That set the tone for the rest of their performance. Following them a few bands later were death metal heavy weights Carnifex. The band had a new backdrop and came out to their hit song “Drown Me In Blood” off of their latest album Slow Death. Carnifex showed their diverse range and unique take on the death metal genre. They also played a cover of “The Heretic Anthem” by Slipknot. That got a big circle pit going. If you have not seen this band play live before you are truly missing out.
The headlining slot of the stage belonged to heavy metal legends Gwar. A sea of white shirts was all you could see up front as the band started off by decapitating one of their many mannequins as fake blood shot out all over the crowd. Many audience members and security guards looked surprised by this but enjoyed the performance none the less. A highlight and a treat for fans of the band came when they made the live debut of a new song called “Fuck This Place” off of their soon to be released album Blood Of The Gods. This was Gwar’s first time on the warped tour and they certainly brought the house down. Their set ended with a cover of AC/DC‘s hit song “If You Want Blood, You Got it”.
Overall the Vans Warped Tour was a must see show for the summer. With many more shows to come I highly suggest getting tickets to one of the dates. It is a fun time for anyone of any age and it will make memories that will last for years to come.