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Warped Tour - The Good and the Bad

Posted by Brandon Vesely on 06/13 at 01:43 PM

Since 1995, Vans Warped Tour has been the premier alternative/punk driven festival, and is specifically geared towards younger listeners and performers.  The festival will be making stops across Pennsylvania this summer, specifically at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, New Jersey (near Philly) on July 12, the Toyota Pavilion in Scranton on July 16, and the First Niagara Pavilion near Pittsburgh on July 17.

For years, the festival gave special attention to emerging artists and genres, and served as an empowering and unifying force for the alternative scene.  Punk bands like Bad Religion, New Found Glory, and NOFX are regulars on the tour and typically attract large crowds.

However, since the early 2000s the tour has taken – at least in my opinion – a turn for the worse.  With the rise of pop-alternative groups like Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, and Panic! at the Disco, the tours organizers have seemingly lost their focus on up-and-coming, cutting-edge groups and as a whole the festival has lost the grassroots, DIY feel that it had in the 1990s.

Instead of promoting underground artists and emphasizing audience experience and appreciation of music, the festival is now dominated by mainstream groups, who receive frequent radio play, in addition to corporate sponsors, who brand the festival’s stages with their logos and line the festival’s grounds with tents selling their merchandise.

With that said, I still enjoy Warped Tour as at least a fun diversion, and make a point to attend ever year.

Here’s a list of groups that I think are must-sees on this summer’s tour:

Handguns and The Story So Far:  There’s nothing more reminiscent of Warped Tour to me than old-fashioned, perky pop-punk.  Both of these groups offer a fresh brand of pop-punk that’s perfect for an outdoor summer setting and is sure to get the crowd moving.

The Story So Far performs “Quicksand” at the 924 Gilman in Berkeley, California

Reel Big Fish and Big D and the Kids Table:  Where would a summer festival tour be without a healthy dose of ska?  Both of these groups are genre-veterans and play peppy ska with carefree lyrics that set the mood for a lively summer day spent enjoying some of your favorite music.

Reel Big Fish performs “Sell Out” at the Odgen Theater in Denver, Colorado

Silverstein:  Post-hardcore heroes Silverstein always put on a fantastic live show and play songs from nearly every album in their catalog, ranging from their debut album When Broken Is Easily Fixed to their most recent effort, This Is How the Wind Shifts.

Silverstein performs “Smile In Your Sleep” at the House of Blues in Chicago, Illinois

Check out the Warped Tour 2013 website for the complete lineup and listing of dates.

{name} Author: Brandon Vesely
Bio: Brandon Vesely is originally from the Pittsburgh area and is currently a junior majoring in Public Relations and Spanish at Penn State. In his free time he enjoys reading, writing, biking, and spending time outdoors. His musical interests are wide-ranging and include a variety of alternative genres including post-hardcore, indie, noise pop, and pop punk. Some of his favorite artists are Bayside, Yeasayer, Phantogram, and Fireworks.


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