MOOSIC — The Vans Warped Tour returned to the Pavilion at Montage Mountain on July 21, and it brought an eclectic lineup of acts with it. Artists from as far as the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan hit the mountain as hard as they could during their allotted 30 minutes, and the performers ranged from DJs and rappers to rockers clad in black pants and combat boots. It’s nearly impossible to see every act during a Warped Tour day—it’s a ‘choose your own adventure’ event—but the multiple branching paths usually lead in enjoyable directions.
This year’s tour was dominated by the pop-punk revival. Bands like Neck Deep, Knuckle Puck, Candy Hearts and Man Overboard waved the genre flag high as armies of teens in backwards trucker caps and Vans slip-ons piled on top of each other to show each vocalist they can scream back every word. Lansdale, Pennsylvania’s The Wonder Years were arguably the genesis of pop-punk’s new lease on life, and their crowd screamed the loudest and piled the highest. The band closed out the night on the main stage, while metalcore band Hundredth wrapped up the action on Warped’s side stages. The Vans Warped Tour doesn’t really have headliners, but both bands lend themselves well to memorable finishes.
Warped Tour is about more than the music, though—yes, that’s the main reason people attend and music is the glue that holds the festival’s parts together—but it’s more than just a bunch of set times throughout the day. It’s also a cultural experience. The sheer number of musical choices means the experience of each attendee can differ, but common ground is found in the rows of tents and special exhibitions that lead to and from each stage. Booths that give away prizes for ‘name that song’ contests blast scene staples like Green Day and My Chemical Romance, inviting strangers into impromptu mass singalongs. Merch guys and girls peddle their wears to potential customers and decorate tip jars in hopes of earning an extra dollar. Each piece of the Warped Tour puzzle is representative of the others, and they change from year to year.
“I like the paint and the enthusiasm,” Kendra Smith of Hanover said. Smith was covered in the neon paint that so many concerts goers had spread across themselves, bringing a staple of electronic music culture to punk rock summer camp. Indeed, Warped Tour has always been a reflection of the alternative youth culture, whatever that culture may embody during any given year, but the existence of body painting stations and the electronic-focused Beatport stage take the Warped culture in a new direction. That’s not to say the tour has abandoned its roots, though—Smith’s friend Hailee Levandoski said her favorite part of the day was crowd surfing to United Kingdom metal act Asking Alexandria. The only things more Warped Tour than crowd surfing are mohawks and heat exhaustion.
Warped Tour 2015 was like a music buffet. There was an acoustic stage, an electronic music stage and a stage that showcased local acts as chosen via an online Battle of the Bands. There were rappers, bands that featured no clean vocals whatsoever and Canadian punk rockers who were the minority on a tour dominated by the pop-punk kids and the last remnants of the metalcore wave. Warped Tour 2015 was like a music buffet that tried to have something for everybody and, for the most part, it succeeded. The ‘choose your own adventure’ event offered the right mix of quality and quantity to appease the vast majority of concert goers. Here’s to next year.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @TLArts