It was a bright, sunny day in Nashville, TN, early July, not a cloud in the sky… On this occasion last year, it rained all day, and the fairgrounds became a giant mud party in the name of Warped Tour. This year, the sun was unforgiving, and I spent at least a week afterwards peeling off several layers of burnt skin.
I never know quite what to expect with Warped Tour. Every year has its own vibe and is an entirely new experience from years prior. The 2016 lineup is definitely an interesting one, featuring several late 90’s and early 00’s punk and ska bands such as New Found Glory, Less Than Jake, Sum 41, and Reel Big Fish. It felt like I was having a strange flashback seeing these bands on stage after all these years. What have they been doing all this time… have they all really been continuously playing music this whole time that I forgot about them as I graduated high school.. graduated college… moved to Nashville… started my career…? Because.. I totally forgot about all of these guys. Actually, I do have a Spotify playlist that highlights music from my high school years, and I still sing New Found Glory’s “Sincerely Me” and “Better Off Dead” as loud as I can in my car once in a while. However, they did fall off my radar and have apparently released five more albums since I shifted from my punk phase to my metal phase….
So I started off my Warped Tour experience this year with Whitechapel, a deathcore band that I have seen once before years ago in their hometown of Knoxville, TN. These guys are brutal, and they’re great. You should check them out.. because I love promoting the amazing metal bands that come out of my home state, and because they are just dirty, driving, grindy metal goodness.
I’m not going to lie- I hate ska, I’ve always hated ska. I also hate the sound of saxophones, with the exception of a few players. Despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the Less Than Jake show. These guys know how to have fun on stage and know how to give the crowd a good show. Everyone in the band was great at engaging the audience and making everyone feel included in their performance and excited about it.
The Color Morale gained a new fan this year.. me! They were the third show I caught, and I
had not heard of them before seeing their name on the lineup. I love hardcore and post-hardcore, so their music hit my happy spot. When they played their song “Learned Behavior”, it was so beautiful I got chills.
I was so excited to see New Found Glory perform. As I mentioned earlier, they played a big role in my youth, and I used to play their self-titled album over and over. I consider them to be one of the “gateway” bands that led me to discover my true love of hardcore/metal. It was an absolute pleasure seeing them perform live.
Ice Nine Kills is another band I had not known of before seeing the lineup. There were things I loved and other things that were not so much my taste, but they definitely kept my interest. They are a unique hybrid of sounds, with a sort of apocalyptic, goblin-metal type of vibe.
I stopped by Reel Big Fish next. With their bright, snazzy outfits on, they had a fun, contagious energy throughout their show. Another ska band I would usually not listen to managed to impress me with their stage presence and performance. It’s also a breath of fresh air to see more instruments on stage than just guitars, drums, and bass.
If you like guys in eye liner and creepy makeup, Motionless in White is the band for you to check out at Warped this year. They are a very talented metalcore band from none other than Scranton, PA, and they have put their own twist on the metal genre by giving their music an industrial, gothic sound. I also found myself thinking during their performance, “Hmm…. I think I like guys in makeup.”
My second favorite performance this year was Volumes. They
are newer in the metal scene than a lot of the others, and they brought a great energy to the stage…and off the stage. Myke Terry, former Bury Your Dead vocalist, spent a lot of his time climbing over the barriers and jumping into the audience. He was great at involving the crowd in their music, and he was the most memorable part of the show for me.
This next group was one I never imagined I would see perform, but here they were right in front of me… Sum 41… playing oldies such as “In Too Deep” and “Fat Lip”. My inner teenager laughed and danced and jumped with the rest of the crowd who were all probably as baffled as I was at the whole experience of it.
Veil of Maya has been a popular band in the metal genre for quite a while. This was my first time seeing them, and I love their music so I enjoyed them a lot. It is always hard for me to adjust to bands who change vocalists, and I prefer early Veil of Maya without the clean singing, but it’s still good stuff.
Lastly, I have seen Every Time I Die several times, and their live show is always fantastic. The energy is wild, and I have to note that they are incredible jumpers. I would have to give them my vote for the best performance I saw at Warped Tour this year. They performed later in the day, and I left after they finished because I knew no one else would top it and that I had to leave on a high note.
I will conclude by saying that Warped Tour 2016 at the Fairgrounds in Nashville, TN was a success, although it was not nearly as eventful as last year’s rainy mud monster party. The tour continues its way around the U.S. through mid-August, so catch it if you can.