Photos by Alexis Shwallier
Warped Tour 2012 hit Charlotte’s Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on Monday, July 30th. There were ups and downs throughout the day, including being tricked into watching a graphic four-minute-long video on inhumane practices in the meat industry but getting paid for it, my friend losing her phone in the middle of the pit, meeting T. Mills, and our skin being fried by the sun. Fortunately, the good outweighed the bad, but absolutely nothing could beat the music.
Thanks to traffic, we got there a bit late, making it just in time to see Yellowcard’s full set. I honestly wasn’t expecting them to be as good as they were. All of the members have amazing stage presence, but I have to give the hypothetical MVP award to Sean Mackin, the band’s violinist. Along with lead vocalist Ryan Key, Mackin did a great job of keeping the crowd amped up and jumping around like lunatics. I didn’t know any of their new stuff, since I never was truly invested in their music, but I genuinely enjoyed what I heard. Key let us know that they have a new album entitled Southern Air coming out late on in the year, off of which a track was recently released on Mtv’s Buzzworthy blog. Finally, after so much anticipation, they played “Only One,” and “Ocean Avenue,” taking me straight back to my elementary school and middle school years. They played these songs so well that I forgot about the UV rays beating down on my face for a little bit.
Once Yellowcard was done, we made our way over to the main stage for some shade and to catch Senses Fail. I refused to go into the pit for this one, so we watched from the safety of those uncomfortable blue chairs; I was pretty excited to see them, since I was a fan of their in my middle school/early high school years. Like all decent post-hardcore bands, they were energetic, charismatic, and all over the place. Lead vocalist Buddy Nielsen kept up a cute rapport with the audience, telling them they could all slap his pale, bare thigh free of charge and attempted to educate the younger spectators of the appropriate time to begin having certain relations with one’s significant other as well as the methods to use at such a time. At this point I was kind of hanging my head, but hey, it’s Warped Tour. The highlight of their set for me was “Calling All Cars,” followed closely by “Can’t Be Saved.”
My friend and I originally wanted to see Breathe Carolina after Senses Fail but since it was way too hot in the pit and the smell of B.O. was getting stronger by the millisecond, we went to wait in line for rapper T. Mills’ meet and greet by the House of Marley stage. While we waited we enjoyed the awesome electro-rock sound of Stepdad, a band that I had heard of but never bothered to check out. They were so good, and even though their crowd was small, they still put their all into their performance and made those watching them happy. If I were to liken them to any band it would the either Passion Pit or MGMT, the former of which they previously supported on tour.
Once my friend finished making googly eyes at T. Mills and got his autograph, we headed over to the Kia Soul stage to wait out good standing space for the Taking Back Sunday show. Sadly, we had to endure over thirty minutes of screamo/emo/techno band Blood On The Dance Floor. I’m going to be very blunt. BOTDF, while earning points for very openly supporting marriage equality, was awful. Watching their set was like watching a train wreck in slow motion: it was upsetting me and yet I couldn’t look away. I honestly thought they were joking. Their fan base is comprised mainly of young teenage girls, a fact that I’m sure they are aware of, and yet they were all so inappropriate, especially the lead singer. Not only that, their music is made up of a bunch of unintelligible screams and the lead vocalist talking in a baby voice over an obnoxious techno beat. I don’t understand. I just don’t.
After being visually and audibly assaulted by Blood On The Dance Floor, we pushed and elbowed our way through the crowd and landed a very nice spot for Taking Back Sunday’s set. Muscling our way through the crowd and enduring annoying baby voices for thirty minutes was worth it as soon as Adam Lazzara set foot on that stage. Let me just say, that man is made of sass. He has more sass in one fingernail than any of us have in our entire beings, okay? His attitude translates well in the performance; he knows he’s good and yet he doesn’t come off as overly confident. Of course, he pulled some cool tricks with the microphone, all of which were very impressive and gobbled up by the audience. The entire band played very well, especially guitarist/back-up vocalist John Nolan. He and Lazzara fed off of each other and the audience the entire time, especially during the well-known songs like “Liar” and “MakeDamnSure.” I thoroughly enjoyed Taking Back Sunday’s set, especially the moment that Lazzara invited his little brother onstage to take a shot with him for his 21st birthday. Ah, brotherly love. It was without a doubt my favorite of the day, even if I had to keep looking behind me in anticipation of crowd surfers and assist accordingly.
Taking a break from the rock bands, we returned to the House of Marley stage to see T. Mills, a young rapper with enough confidence and charisma to spread to the masses. I didn’t know much about T. Mills before going to Warped, and I’m pretty picky when it comes to rap, but upon leaving I found myself excited to get home and download his recently released mix tape, Thrillionaire. Some of his songs kind of put me off but others like “Diamonds” had enough of that somethin’ special to win me over for the long haul. I, along with the other dozens of girls, appreciated that he pulled a Justin Bieber and brought a girl onstage to serenade and make swoon
As if we hadn’t already seen enough great live acts, next up on our list of bands to see was New Found Glory. We didn’t stay for their entire set, but we obviously stayed long enough to see the guys bound on stage in all of their matching-basketball-uniform-wearing glory and to think, “Eesh, Jordan Pundick definitely ain’t as young as he used to be.” But despite their age, you have to give them a hand for being able to keep up with, and in most cases outshine, all of the bands on the tour. Seeing them in the flesh was definitely surreal, what with “Hit or Miss” having been the soundtrack to so many of our youths and them being the pioneers of pop punk. It’s impossible not to go completely insane while they play, something to which the other couple hundred people who saw them can attest.
At this point my feet were screaming and my skin was begging for some aloe vera, but no. There was one more band to see. I had been going back and forth in my mind all day between seeing All Time Low and Mayday Parade. Whoever scheduled them to play at the same time is an idiot and I would like to personally bop them on the side of the head. I love both bands, but alas, my long time allegiance to All Time Low won. Since it was the last set of the day, everyone was going absolutely insane. Jack Barakat and Alex Gaskarth are the entertainers of the group, constantly jumping around the stage and cracking inappropriate jokes left and right. Zack Merrick was, as always, shirtless and sporting his hot pink bass and drummer Ryan Dawson just sat there looking pretty with a smile made of rainbows, puppies, and sunshine. Seeing them play “Weightless,” “Lost In Stereo,” and “Dear Maria…” had my inner fangirl flailing all over the place. It was perfect until the last few seconds of the song when every girl in the audience tried to crowd surf at the same time and somehow ended up on top of me. I’m not weak, but I’m not strong enough to hold up six girls at the same time.
Warped Tour met and exceeded all of my expectations, both good and bad. As cliché as it sounds, there is a lot of truth in the sentiment that music has the power to bring even the most estranged together for the span of just one song. I saw some of my all time favorite bands, got some killer tanlines, lost what felt like ten pounds of sweat, and made some awesome temporary friends in the pit. I made a lot of memories this past Monday, and I can’t wait for the opportunity to make more next year. All of you should join me; let’s meet up and mosh together.