[6 August 2013]
PopMatters Events Editor
So yesterday, we got a little bit excited about letlive. – but with good reason. While letlive. surely stand as a prime example of why Warped Tour is still a place where you’d want to spend a hot, sweaty summer day rocking out, they’re not the only ones worth mentioning on this year’s tour. The lineup for the 2013 Warped Tour was as diverse and talent-filled as ever, leaving little reason for fans to stay in the comfort of their homes as the tour rolled through the States this summer.
Hands Like Houses
Hailing from Canberra, Australia, Hands Like Houses have made quite the splash since releasing their debut album Ground Dweller last year and spent the summer rocking the #Domo Stage on their first Warped Tour. The band’s brand of melodic and experimental post-hardcore now appears to be fully realized with the release of their new album Unimagine, a focused work that is separating the band from the pack and is one of the year’s best releases thus far. Top it all off with an insane live show with pitch perfect vocals from Trenton Woodley, and Hands Like Houses appear ready to be the scene’s next big breakout band.
After their stint on the Monster Energy Stage last year, blessthefall have made the leap to the main stage and are drawing bigger crowds than ever before. Nearing the release of their highly anticipated new album Hollow Bodies, the band’s live performance has improved drastically and had the Cincinnati crowd reaching a fever pitch. Guitarist Eric Lambert can absolutely shred and vocalist Beau Bokan has transformed into a monster on stage, commanding the crowd with ease. If Hollow Bodies can expand upon the ferocity shown on 2009’s Witness (and it sounds like it will), blessthefall could become the leaders of the metalcore pack.
One of the most criminally underrated albums of 2012 was Go Radio’s Close the Distance - a nearly perfectly crafted pop rock album. The band took the main stage for the Cincinnati date, playing tracks from Distance as well as Lucky Street and their 2010 EP Do Overs and Second Chances. Although they’ve nearly shed the pop-punk label the band had at their onset, vocalist/guitarist Jason Lancaster can still rock and proved as much during an impassioned set. Proving true to their namesake, the band’s sound is perfectly primed for radio and, with the right single, could make a big splash in the mainstream.
The Early November
The Early November’s 2011 reunion did more than please their old fans – in won over a lot of new ones. Last year’s In Currents was a diamond in the rough; a pop-punk/indie rock hybrid that managed to snag a lot of new listeners. The band’s mid-day set on the #Domo Stage may not have attracted the largest audience of the day, but it certainly proved to be one of the best sing-along sets of the day. Vocalist/guitarist Ace Enders spent the summer pulling double duty, performing with The Early November as well as displaying a fantastic solo set in the Acoustic Basement, performing as I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business.
Motion City Soundtrack
Having Motion City Soundtrack back in the Warped lineup just feels right. Once staples of the tour, Motion City haven’t appeared in the lineup since 2009. After the release of last year’s fantastically crafted Go, Justin Pierre and company took the main stage to play a plethora of the band’s hits, spanning the course of their five albums, even taking time to share a new song that’s going to appear on their upcoming release. The band’s catalogue speaks to their talent as musicians, spanning multiple genres and attracting an extremely diverse and devoted fan base. Motion City Soundrack’s inclusion on this year’s tour not only gives old fans a chance to relive the nostalgia of early days, but gives newer listeners a chance to experience a truly talented and respected band.
Bring Me the Horizon
It wasn’t long ago that Bring Me the Horizon were brushed off as white noise in a convoluted scene. That was before the band transformed into one of the most innovative metalcore bands around, capped off by this year’s Sempiternal - a truly welcome progression that is without a doubt the band’s best album to date. While it’s fun to hear past tracks like “Chelsea Smile” for old time’s sake, it’s the newer tracks like “Shadow Moses” and “Go to Hell for Heaven’s Sake” that bring the house down and display what Bring Me the Horizon are capable of. They’re worthy of their main stage slot and are primed to continue their ascent for the foreseeable future.
Born from the ashes of Woe is Me’s fallout last year, Issues have become much better than their predecessor, and in a quicker time frame than anyone could have imagined. Sure, they attract a fairly large number of girls to their crowd who swoon over clean vocalist Tyler Carter’s croon, but the band is more than just a pretty face (and voice). Blending nu metal into their post-hardcore sound, Issues feature a dynamic back and forth between Carter and screamer Michael Bohn and the not-as-out-of-place-as-you’d-think scratching and synth of Tyler Acord. Their Kevin Says Stage set drew a crowd worthy of a larger stage, which they’ll likely be performing on in the coming years of Warped.
The Wonder Years
The Wonder Years are one of the primary reasons that Warped Tour is once again flourishing. They are simply the best pop-punk band currently making music and have one of the best live performances you’ll see. Their new release The Greatest Generation is even better than 2011’s heralded Suburbia, I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing and the new songs sound absolutely perfect during their live performance. The Cincinnati crowd was rabid and shouting along to every song as vocalist Dan “Soupy” Campbell led the choir. The Wonder Years’ main stage set is well deserved and has been earned from the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into their past three albums and their climb to the top of the pop-punk landscape.
Other must see acts: The Used, Chiodos, William Beckett, August Burns Red, For the Foxes, Man Overboard, Hawthorne Heights, Charlie Simpson, Reel Big Fish.