Article and Photography by: Larry Young –
The musical phenominon known as the Van’s Warped Tour steamed through Dallas on what was projected to be “Hottest Day of The Year in Dallas”….and the projection was not wrong. It’s was easily 102 in the shade. In this type of heat is this event truly about the music and the experience of Warped Tour? This the question that I ask myself every year and every year the answer is the same…. YES!
The cross-section and diversity of the acts playing at the Dallas date is why the Van’s Warped Tour has been successful for 23 years!
Save Ferris – From Orange County California fronted by the infectious Monique Powell. She grabbed the crowd and never let go!
New Years Day – Also from California (Anaheim). When it comes to the Vans Warped Tour, this isn’t New Years Day’s first rodeo. Ash Costello and the guys in New Years Day have traveled this road before and are one of the more seasoned acts on the roster. Costello is a dynamic front person and she definitely knows how to command a stage. She’s backed by one of the most polished bunch of guys to ever hit a Warped stage. Pop/punk that’s infectious and delivered with an intensity that many other bands lack.
American Authors – They’re an interesting mix of banjo and mandolin (James Adam Shelley), up right bass and marching band bass drum (Dave Rublin), drummer Matt Sanchez and lead vocalist and guitarist Zac Barnett. They did not disappoint playing hit singles “Believer” and “Best Day of My Life”. Great Band!
Bowling for Soup – Local favorites from Denton, TX. The boys hit the stage announcing to the crowd that they were “The best ‘freakin’’ in the world!!” And for their 25 minutes they were! Look up party band in the dictionary and you see ‘Bowling for Soup! They are so much fun to watch.
Neck Deep – The crowd chanted “Neck Deep” and then erupted into applause as the guys jumped on stage. Lead singer Ben Barlow always seems super happy to be performing, as seen in his goofy facial expressions. Their setlist contained mostly songs from their most recent record, “Life’s Not Out To Get You”, with the addition of their two newest songs, “Happy Judgement Day” and “Where Do We Go When We Go”. This was definitely one of the best sets of the day, considering the enthusiasm and adrenaline coursing through everyone.
Last but certainly not the least there was….GWAR!!! GWAR is a spectacle! GWAR is pure theatrics! GWAR is….GWAR! This was my first experience with the mighty GWAR. They did not disappoint. There was decapitation, a blood spewing dog, chain saws, a contraption that soaked the audience in blue “liquid” to transform the crowd in the ‘GWAR-IST’….it was with out of doubt it was the craziest thing that I had ever seen, and they actually played music. When set ended my shirt was soaked in red die, it looked like I had been in a car wreck.
While the mostly younger crowd seemed energetic and enthusiastic throughout the festival, it was clear that the heat was getting to people. I could see people crawling underneath raised platforms just to stretch out and lie still in that sweet darkness, like gila monsters hiding under the floorboards of an outhouse. People who came to the fest without hats either hit the merch tents to buy hats, t-shirts anything that could be improvised into headgear.
One of the coolest things about this hell-hot tour is how many moms and dads are always in the house (or on the pavement, as the case may be). Part of this is attributable to how the tour is operated (parents can get a free ticket to accompany their kids). But it also speaks to the communal ties of punk rock itself. The same people who went to Warped Tour 20-some years ago still go today; it’s just that now they’ve got their kids in tow. Perhaps this is why Warped has managed to stick around for so long: It’s a family thing, whether the crowd is bonded by blood or beer.