For the 23rd year running, the Vans Warped Tour presented a particularly heavy lineup boasting the scene’s best: Beartooth, Memphis May Fire, Blessthefall, Silverstein and even Knocked Loose. With nine hours of high-octane, hardcore (for the most part) euphoria amongst 98 bands, it’s scientifically proven impossible not to find a few to rock out with and tightrope dehydration in the 97 degree heat.
While technically Warped Tour doesn’t feature any headliners, it’s difficult not to catch a few specific band’s sets, regardless of the time they’re performing. GWAR, is a prime example.
The American rock band stands out, but not for their music. However they’ve been around since 1984, so that’s saying something. GWAR is easily identified by their distinctively grotesque costumes and their habit of spraying copious amounts of fake blood, urine and semen from stage. The seven musicians look like warriors from another planet on stage in their outlandish and oversized costumes, impossible to miss. The visual concept revolves around an elaborate science fiction-theme that’s present in each of their albums. GWAR’s performance is showy and unlike any other set on Warped Tour. They’re worth any attendee’s time just for the visuals, but it doesn’t hurt that GWAR isn’t afraid to mix in a few covers from band’s alike, most notably AC/DC.
Beartooth and I Prevail boast some of the most dedicated followings on Warped Tour. For Beartooth, this isn’t their first rodeo and with a few years of touring experience under their belt, they’re able to show off just how far they’ve come since 2015. The band has skyrocketed up the charts since releasing their sophomore record Aggressive last summer. The entire album is heavy, fast and quite melodic. It’s perfect for Warped Tour and Beartooth isn’t afraid to show why. From their newest hit “Sick of Me” to the album’s title track “Aggressive,” there isn’t a moment that isn’t filled with crowd surfing, moshing and excitement.
Unlike Beartooth, this is I Prevail’s first go-around on Warped Tour. However, contrary to many band’s first time, I Prevail shoots right to the top with a spot on the Journey’s Left Foot stage. They handle the spotlight well, attracting one of the more sizable crowds on Warped Tour. Despite only having one album under their belt, I Prevail at crafting a full set list that doesn’t disappoint. Their 30-minutes flies by at a rapid rate with “Scars,” “Stuck In Your Head,” “Come And Get It” and the immensely popular “Black Space” cover.
Warped Tour has always been known as spring-board for up and coming bands, and one that’s bound to bounce up the charts following the summer tour is Knocked Loose. Hailing from Oldham County in Kentucky, Knocked Loose made more of name for themselves from their intense mosh pits. While Knocked Loose’s pits undoubtedly attract the pro-moshers, if any hardcore fan catches a glimpse of their set, they’ll surely walk away with another band to add to a Spotify playlist. The five piece is tight and boast a beat down sound. Their music is filled with fight riffs and slowed down breakdowns, quite the opposite of the aforementioned bands. Knocked Loose began building a name for themselves , but their summer on Warped solidifies their stance in the hardcore scene.
With more than 20 dates remaining and even more bands expected to enter the fold in the following weeks, grabbing a couple affordable tickets is advised. While the heavy lineup is different from previous summers, it’s nearly impossible to walk anywhere on the grounds without hearing ear-pleasing music. Founder Kevin Lyman deserves a few pats on the back for what he’s accomplished for the 23rd year in a row and Warped Tour could easily serve as the highlight of the summer for many.
However beware, it’s hot… very hot.