Let’s set the stage: Somewhere in Texas, Dallas to be exact. Its August 2nd, 2013 and its 103 with a heat index of 110. The action takes place at the Gexa Energy Pavilion and it’s that time of year: Van’s Warped Tour. The cast of characters are vast array of musicians sweating to give there fans what they want … kick ass music and one glorious moment to bask in their presence. This was my second adventure into the world of Warped, and this year was… well it was different. It seemed as if last year was the exclamation point of what veteran “Warpers” would say Warped Tour used to be… big names, big stages, insane times. For this writer this year there were more undertones of emotions; some would say vulnerability, others nostalgia, and a hint of what is to come.
Now what we’re all here for the MUSIC. This time I found it harder to catch some of the bands due to the staging, but what I caught was fantastic. First, I caught former Academy Is front man William Beckett’s set in the Acoustic Basement. Being only slightly familiar with his previous work I came without any preconceived notions. William was brilliant. He played some songs from his upcoming album Genuine and Counterfeit (dropping 8-20), and some classics from the band. He was simply in his element-a man with his guitar doing what he loves. I feel I should mention a stand out moment was when he performed with Billy the Kid. If like me you aren’t familiar with her then Google, YouTube, or Wiki her-no adjective just Do It. To some up William’s set, it was not nearly long enough. Next, I high tailed it over to catch veteran Warpers The Early November on the Domo stage. While I knew who they were and enjoy their music I felt the splitting of the mainstage with Tilly’s took away from the energy that the band was bringing. It seemed as if they were being boxed in. Don’t get me wrong it was an awesome set, it left me wanting something more. More is what I got when lead singer Ace performed on the Acoustic Basement stage. In this intimate setting there was more of a connection. He was vocally on point and he seemed like a friend. You were simply able to absorb the music.
Since the show was in Dallas it has to be said we were lucky to have some hometown boys on tour. Firstly we have Denton guys Bowling for Soup. These have been on the scene for a while and from there performance they don’t look like they are stopping anytime soon-they love what they do and it’s obvious. What was refreshing is that they don’t take themselves seriously. Case in point, they did an awesome cover of Stacy’s Mom, because people apparently think they penned it (of course it was Fountains of Wayne). They had one of the biggest crowds and you could feel the love through the smoke. The other hometown boys were Burleson’s own Forever the Sickest Kids. The guys played with such joy and release. For those who don’t know DFW lost a beloved friend on July 27th, in radio show host Kidd Kraddick. Kidd was a huge fan and supporter of FTSK and was suppose to introduce them at the show. Even though they had attended his funeral that morning the guys were in high spirits. Lead singer Jonathan gave a touching tribute to a man had meant so much to so many. They ended there set on a high note with their next hit penned with FOB Patrick Stump.
Finally, bands I felt were show stoppers. f you haven’t heard of Citizen, they are definitely a band to watch. For being first time Warpers they held their own and their album Youth is at times haunting, then punchy. . The lyrics are raw, and the music is hard hitting. They were really solid, and are a band to watch. Next we have GoRadio. They were one of the closing bands, and I feel those that left early missed out on catchy a really wicked band. They had everything… ballads, rock, a human traffic cone. Okay not the human traffic cone, but they were incredible. What was even more endearing was how appreciative they were of those that stayed for their set. It’s hard for relatively unknown artist to get people to catch their show and those that were at this one would agree it was a great way to end the day. Finally Reel Big Fish. Now these guys played at like 6:30 and the sun was beating on the audience like hell. That didn’t stop the fans. These guys were high energy, high octane and so were there fans. The music was clever and they were hilarious. As they put the audience in their spank banks all in attendance did the same for them. The number that sealed the deal for me was “She has a Girlfriend Now” that they performed with the lead singer of New Year’s Day Ashley Costello. They may not have been the last act of the day but they really nailed it home.
Overall Warped Tour may have been different, but it was still worth every $3 bottle of water, $12 beer, and threat of heat stroke. It seems as it moves into it’s 20th year it is time to hand it off to the next generation of fans.
Photos by Jessis Lopez