Concert Review: 2012 Vans Warped Tour Favorite Performances
After a late arrival July 11, I rushed to catch Anti Flag in the amphitheater. Their distinctive yet muffled sound guided me through Blossom Music Center and the packed crowds glowing with sunburned faces and reeking of beer, clove cigarettes and b.o. That’s when it finally hit me — I’d finally made it to the 2012 Warped Tour!
Anti Flag has been a favorite band of mine for 12 years, so I didn’t even check to see who else was playing when I got to Blossom around 2:30 p.m. that afternoon. I squirmed my through the right side of the theater just below the stage just in time for a couple songs, including “Die for the Government,” “One People, One Struggle” and “The Press Corpse.” It was an awesome start to my Warped experience.
Next up on my list was Every Time I Die — another one of my favorite bands and a major reason I decided to visit the tour in the first place. I found a perfect spot near the audience’s left side of the stage straddling a pile of Magic the Gathering cards dumped over the ground (apparently, they literally couldn’t be given away), a soiled shirt, beer cups and condom wrappers. I wonder if they were all put there by the same person?
After setting up their own instruments, Every Time I Die wasted no time getting crazy and unleashed the first song from their new album Ex Lives: “Underwater Bimbos from Outer Space.” The crowd instantly whipped into a frenzy. The rest of their set brought on the vicious pits and flying bodies. They featured other new songs like “Holy Book of Dilemma,” and tapped into other favorites like “We’erwolf,” “Kill the Music,” “No Son of Mine” and “She’s My Rushmore” before concluding with a nasty performance of “Ebolarama.” It was a flawless, high-energy set defined by a perfect sampling of material.
After the Burial came on around 4:30 p.m. to a relatively smaller crowd at the Kevin Says Stage, which is tucked away off the main trails. Despite a lower volume of fans, the pits were plenty active. The sun was out in force and blasting the stage with heat, but that didn’t stop them from putting on a great, Coors Light-infused show.
This was the first time I saw them live, and I was impressed at how they performed some of their most technical and elaborate songs — guitarists Trent Hafdahl and Justin Lowe shredded their 8-string axes masterfully. They played a solid balance of tunes from their last two albums including “Cursing Akhenaten,” “Encased in Ice,” “Berserker” and “Sleeper” before finishing off with a phenomenal rendition of “Aspiration.”
Next up on my list was New Found Glory. Besides catching fleeting glimpses of them at old Warped Tours, I had never really watched a show of theirs. My friends and I found a decent spot in the dead center of what was the largest crowd I had been in so far. I listened to New Found Glory a lot when I was younger, so it felt a little nostalgic to see their performance. Their backdrop art was really sweet, too.
The audience was the largest yet and plenty rowdy. Their set was stacked with hits like “Hit or Miss” and “Catalyst.” And everyone went nuts when they tossed in a cover of Green Day’s “Basket Case,” which prefaced their final song, “My Friends Over You.”
After New Found Glory, I headed back over to the Ernie Ball Stage to catch Born of Osiris put on an awesome show. The crowd was notably rambunctious, and there were plenty of bodies flying during their heavy, ethereal breakdowns. I may be bias, but each song sounded as awesome as the last. The keyboardist, Joe Buras, was fun to watch as he worked the stage in between rocking the synths and keys.
They played a great sampling of songs, many of which tapped into their first album The New Reign, like “Open Arms to Damnation,” “Abstract Art” and one of their best, “Bow Down.” It’s always fun to watch a band you’ve followed for five years play the jams that got you listening to them in the first place. They wrapped the set up with “Recreate,” a song from their latest album The Discovery.
Like New Found Glory, I have a soft spot for some classic Taking Back Sunday, which is where my group headed next. Coincidentally, both those bands played on the same stage, but Taking Back Sunday attracted an even larger crowd, albeit a much milder one compared to the crazy New Found Glory group that used each other as launchpads to somersault on top the waves of hands and heads. The Taking Back Sunday audience stretched out as far as I could see from the right side of the stage though, which was pretty impressive.
What I saw of their set was plenty entertaining, with the audience singing along to nearly every song. I stuck around long enough to hear a few songs,including “A Decade Under the Influence” and “Timberwolves at New Jersey.” We left right around the middle of the set to our day out with The Used, who were setting up at the amphitheater.
The main stage was packed for The Used by the time we arrived, which was somewhere around 8:30 p.m. So I opted for a seat this time in lieu of fighting with the crowds. Bert McCraken must definitely wasted on something because his behavior was ridiculous. Unfortunately, it was hard to get good shots of his antics from how far away I was.
What was most bizarre was how he liked to pretend to … um … manipulate himself by using the microphone as a prop and then spit on the crowd. I don’t remember if that was before or after he got the bulk of the audience to raise their hands and admit they play with themselves, too. Didn’t seem like anyone was bothered by the spitting, though, especially not the ladies who responded to his pleas for “titties.”His parting thoughts offered two insightful quips: he thanked the crowd for coming, noting that music saves lives, and then told his swooning fans to kiss his ass.
With or without the shenanigans, the show was undoubtedly fun to watch and certainly one of the most memorable. The singer and a guitarist from Miss May I joined Bert on stage for one song to mix it up, and the backstage crowd was also pulled to the front for a couple songs while T-shirts were launched into the stands.
The Used played a mix of new and old songs across their discography including “I Come Alive,” “Handsome Awkward” and “The Bird and the Worm” that were balanced by older hits like “The Taste of Ink.” I personally liked how they came out to “Take It Away” in a blaze of intensity, which was satisfyingly predictable. They also played what my friend Joe dubbed “Smells Like a Box of Sharp Objects,” which began with the infamous riff from Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and mashed into “A Box Full of Sharp Objects.”
So that was a portion of my 2012 Warped Tour at a glance, and all in all, it was a blast. I will definitely scope out the set list again next year. If you went to the Warped Tour, share your thoughts below, and check out more pics in the gallery!
All photos by Jeremy Nobile