Vans Warped Tour Australia!

Just as a young professor Mark Hoppus had said – “I couldn’t wait for the summer and the Warped Tour, I remember that’s the first time that I saw her there!” Alas, a beautiful young maiden on this past Sunday’s first rendition of the festival in 11 years did not sweep me off my feet, but I did thoroughly enjoy myself… enjoyment of such a caliber that it would only be improved by a holographic performance from Donkey Kong and his crew of primate pals (seriously if you’ve never heard the DK rap you are missing out).

The weather was nice, not too hot and not too cold, with an overcast sky. This meant other patrons and I would neither freeze nor overheat, and it made for great festival weather. The grass at the Ellis park site was beautifully luscious and green, so much so that there was an inherent urge inside of me to take off my shoes and socks and spread my toes amongst the many blades of grass. The site was rather small, and all three stages were the same size, and stood adjacent to each other. This was not a bad thing, as the vibe was instantly more relaxed than Warped’s big brother Soundwave. It would be impossible to loose sight of your friends at Warped, and catching two sets at the same time by alternating between them is very much a possibility here.

The first act I caught were Tonight Alive from Sydney, or as I call them, Paramore with an Australian skin. This isn’t a bad thing, as it very much works in their favour. Though not a prior fan I couldn’t help myself from jumping on the bandwagon for the duration of their set, as I found their tunes creeping up on me. They played with enough energy to rouse the crowd early on in the day, and jumped around the stage in synchronized glee, a token move I would see at throughout the rest of the day, but once they finished I would not be one to listen to their recorded material.

Next up were Reel Big Fish, or as they should be called – the epic inducers of undeniable manic fits of fun! They were my second favourite act of the entire day, and for good merit. They were musically tight, charming as well as funny, and had the ability to make even the fellas with two left feet (i.e. me) start to dance. I never knew that ska could be so fun. All of their songs are laced with an irreverent sense of humour, such as She Has a Girlfriend Now, and Your Guts (I Hate ‘Em). The band is able to blend a variety of influences into their sound, and the implementation of brass instruments only fits in perfectly. One thing that Reel Big Fish masters is creating a sense of musical irony, often playing an upbeat happy song, with mean and spiteful lyrics, and they closed with a cover of Take on Me, which was, awesome!

I then saw The Used tear the main stage to pieces with an energetic live performance. They owned their material and made it instantly accessible, which is something to be proud of. I had never listened to their material before, and I enjoyed what they were playing, though it wasn’t memorable enough for me to catch any of their track names. My process for writing reviews usually consists of piecing together broken memories anyway, it’s not often I attend a show without the helping hand of a few party aids.

Halfway through The Used I departed with a friend to go see Confession, and if the Chopper Reed banners were any indicator of what was to come we were in for a good time. Confession was suitably heavy, and front man Michael Crafter is an absolute beast. I was impressed with their live sound, and even more so at their announcement that their would be no more clean sections on their upcoming album, which is my most hated thing about heavy music.

Surprisingly, the next band I saw, We Came as Romans, employed clean sections throughout all of their songs, and for some reason, I enjoyed it. It must be because they are self admittedly not the heaviest band in the world, they know what genre of music they produce, and they embrace it. This created a sense of slightly guilty pleasure inside of me, but I had fun for their entire set.

Speaking of the heaviest band in the world, Hatebreed were up next, and by Jesus they were absolutely mind blowing. Such riff. Much heavy. This was exactly the dose of heaviness I needed, and I was quite convinced by the end that Hatebreed are indeed the heaviest band in the world now that Pantera are no more. Although at one point the circle pit rotated fiercely around the sound desk I found the mosh pit to be quite tame, most likely because the main demographic for Warped is pop-punk kids. I was glad to be a part of the experience, and was left with serious Hatebreed cravings when their set ended. Best act of the entire day, hands down!

Finally, as night began to fall and the rain followed suit, the mood was set perfectly for Australian veterans Parkway Drive, who I’ve had the pleasure to see live four times now. As they hit the stage and broke into Dark Days, something was different about the band, it was as if they had reached their final form. They were tight and refined, its now finally clear that they have grown up. They are no longer the underdogs, but the biggest fish in the pond, and this came through clearly. Winston whipped out adorable little dance moves during the breakdowns, and I could literally smell the double bass pedals as I drew long breaths through my nostrils. Highlights were Idols and Anchors, Boneyards and The River. As has come to be expected they closed with sing-along favourite Carrion. By this time someone had even climbed on top of the sound tent – crazy!

As people piled out of the venue it felt as if the night had only just begun, every body was buzzing from those post show endorphins, and it felt as if the show should and could go on forever. I found that the great thing about Warped was that three different people could go for three different reasons, and each have a completely different day, all at the one festival.

I can only hope that Warped comes back with a vengeance next year, and hangs around for the years to come!

Jonty Czuchwicki