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LIVE: VAN’S WARPED TOUR – July 22, 2016 (Auburn Hills, MI)

| 3 August 2016 | Reply


Venue: The Palace of Auburn Hills

City: Auburn Hills, MI

Date: July 22, 2016

Review and Photographs by: Mike Hubbard

Everyone has their favorite holidays.  Some love Halloween, with the costumes and haunted houses.  Some love Christmas, with the holiday songs and presents.  Others love their birthdays, when it is all about them.  For me, my favorite three holidays are Easter, my wedding anniversary, and Warped Tour.  There’s a running joke where everyone always hates the Warped Tour lineup, when in fact every year has at least something for everyone.  This year’s lineup was distinctively geared towards pop punk.  I’ve generally steered away from most pop punk bands, but given the heavy influence in this year’s lineup I made the decision to expand my horizons and check out some bands I typically may have avoided.

This year’s Warped Tour also had a bit of a different feel from recent years in that the whole festival was simplified.  No rap/hip-hop stage.  No comedy stage.  No acoustic basement.  There was basically 5 stage areas, with three of those areas set up with two stages each, so as soon as a band finished on one of the two stages, another band could start on the second one.  The stage areas were main stage (two stage set up, with mostly pop punk bands), the Poseidon/Cyclops stage pair, the Monster Energy stage (also two stages, with heavier bands), the Full Sail stage (for smaller audiences), and the local stage.

I’ve been lucky in that the weather has usually been pretty good whenever I have attended Warped Tour.  A few days before this year’s edition the forecast was 97 degrees with 80% chance of thunderstorms.  Fortunately that forecast was only half right.  We had the high 90’s temps, but a bright sun replaced the thunderstorms, making for a hot, hot day.


Kicking off the day for me was Broadside, a pop-punk band from Richmond, VA.  And what a kickoff it was.  Still relatively unknown, these guys put on a great set.  Keep an eye on Broadside.  Based on their set this day I expect them to continue to grow.  I happened to run into the band later in the day and chat with them a bit, and found them to be good guys as well as a great up and coming band.


From there I made my first of many trips over to the Monster Energy pair of stages.  This year featured not one, but two Monster Energy stages, creatively called ‘North’ and ‘South’.  First up on the ‘North’ stage were metalcore stalwarts The Word Alive.  I think this was my third time seeing TWA. Their sound has evolved significantly since their debut full length ‘Deceiver’, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the band’s ability to put on a great show.  Telle Smith has to be one of the scene’s most dynamic front men, and drummer Luke Holland is widely regarded as one of the best metalcore drummers out there.  The day was still early, but this set was going to be hard to top.


Almost as soon as The Word Alive finished their set, From Ashes to New were up, leading off the day for the ‘South’ stage.  Trying to classify FATN with a genre is a futile effort.  They kind of remind me of a harder version of Linkin Park.  Featuring a blend of metal, rap, Nu Metal, with some electronica thrown in, their unique sound had the crowd going.  Even though the band just released their first full length earlier in the year, the audience seemed to know their music well and ate it all up.


For some reason Chicago’s Knuckle Puck has flown a bit under the radar in the pop punk world.  While the main stages were filled all day with various other bands from the genre, Knuckle Puck was relegated to one of the smaller stages.  I almost didn’t make it over to their set, but man I was glad I did.  The stage may have been small, but the set was huge, in terms of energy and emotion.  This is a band I intend to continue to follow, based on what I saw.


Speaking of pop punk bands on the main stage, my first trek over there was to catch State Champs.  Going into the day I had not planned to spend much time at the main stage, but this was one of the few bands I wanted to catch.  These guys have been blowing up the last year or two and I can see why after seeing them live.  They looked right at home on the main stage, commanding the attention of the audience throughout their set. By this time the temps had risen well into the 90’s and I was more than ready for a short break out of the sun.  Fortunately this also happened to be the time I had scheduled to go inside to interview the Australian band With Confidence.  Unfortunately this was also the time that hardcore band Old Wounds was playing, so I had to miss them.


After a great conversation with the guys from With Confidence (interview coming soon) I headed back to the main stage area to catch the ever popular Reel Big Fish.  It doesn’t matter what kind of music is your favorite, everybody loves RBF.  I’ve caught them at Warped Tour a couple of times in the past and they never disappoint.  And this time was no different.  They played old favorites like ‘Sell Out’ and ‘Beer’, as well as covers like ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and ‘Take on Me’.  Never ones to take themselves too seriously, the band had a blast fooling around on stage, and the audience had a blast being part of it.


Metalcore giants Atreyu were one of the more intriguing bands in this year’s lineup.  The band was huge in the 2000’s, but went on hiatus for several years and had comeback recently.  I wondered if the old fire would be there after taking so many years off, but I quickly saw that these guys were on top of their game.  Playing mostly fan favorites from their earlier albums made sure the crowd got what they were looking for.  And not just playing them, but putting on an epic stage show all the while.  They also mixed things up a bit by playing a cover of ‘You Give Love a Bad Name’ by Bon Jovi.  I sure didn’t see that coming, but they pulled it off.


As soon as Atreyu was done, Australian metalcore band In Hearts Wake started up.  These guys were one of my favorite new (to me) bands of the day.  They just killed their set.  The brutal unclean vocals of Jake Taylor juxtaposed against the brilliant clean vocals of bassist Kyle Erich was near perfect.  Paired with these amazing vocals were classic guitar work and drums, as well as mesmerizing stage presence made for a set that will stick with me for a long time.


After a short break to refill my water supply I headed back to the Monster Energy stages to catch Boston hardcore band Vanna.  This was my third or fourth time catching these guys and it is always a good show.  Vocalist Davey Muise really knows how to engage the crowd and relate to his audience, and this time was no different.


Some bands defy description in terms of style or genre.  Palaye Royale, the next band that I saw, fits into that category.  I was completely mesmerized by their set, particularly with guitarist Sebastian Danzig.  The band describes themselves as ‘Fashion-Art Rock’, which in my mind does not do the band justice.  Giving their debut full length Boom Boom Room (side A) a listen will give you an idea of their sound (and likely hook you), but seeing them perform live provides a whole new dimension to the music.  They played on the smallest stage, but those who caught their set will not soon forget it.  Adding to the fun was a cover of MCR’s Teenagers, which was a big hit with the crowd.


Although I was in awe of Palaye Royale, the day was far from over.  Another hike over to the Monster Energy stages was in order, to catch British metalcore band Oceans Ate Alaska.  On the heavier end of the metalcore spectrum, OAA delivered a brutal, pounding set of breakdown infused tracks that woke up an audience that was starting to show the effects of the heat and sun.  The mosh pit was in full force jamming to the mixed meter assault delivered.


I was pretty beat after OAA, but there was no time to waste as I once again had to travel across the parking lot to catch my new friends from With Confidence performing.  Much of the current pop punks bands have lyrics that are more introspective and often depressing, verging on emo, but not so with these boys from Sydney.  Even though some of their lyrics are very deep, serious, and thoughtful, they are delivered in an upbeat catchy manner.  The smiles on the guys’ faces as they performed were infectious, and everyone who caught the set had a great time.  After a full day of listening to music, it was their opening song, Voldemort, which continued to run through my head as I went to sleep that night.  If you have never heard With Confidence, check them out, particularly if you get a chance to catch them live.


I left With Confidence with a smile on my face and headed back over to my home away from home, the Monster stage, for another dose of heavy music.  The heavy/hardcore/metalcore music scene is stereotypically viewed as a holding a negative view on things, but that is not always the case.  The next band on my schedule is one of those metalcore bands that have a decidedly positive message to deliver.  Although I definitely dig the music that The Color Morale plays, my affinity for the band is more because of their positive message of hope, over and above their music.  Vocalist Garrett Rapp comes across to me as much more than a vocalist in a band, he is a provider of a positive message of hope to those who are hurting, even to the point that their 2013 full length was titled Know Hope.  This was my third time seeing the band and I always walk away from their set feeling better than I felt beforehand.  I ran into Garrett later in the day as he was catching Gideon’s set and made a point to shake his hand.  I doubt that he and the band realize the positive impact they have made on so many kids that are hurting.


After The Color Morale I took a brief break to grab a bite to eat, because I was going to need some sustenance to get through the next few sets.  Usually when I go to Warped Tour I have a fairly long list of must see bands.  This year the list was pretty short.  At the very top of that list was Every Time I Die.  This was probably my fifth time seeing them, and they never let me down.  They’ve been playing a song from their forthcoming album, Low Teens, due out on September 23, as well as a number of tracks from their extensive catalog.  They put on a phenomenal show, in addition to their outstanding music.  A live set from ETID is not to be missed.  They closed the set with the tune Moor, from their 2014 release From Parts Unknown.  But that wasn’t the end of the show.  They had a meet and greet at their merch tent immediately after the set, and instead of walking over there, guitarist Jordan Buckley crowd surfed all the way there.  After the meet and greet I ran into guitarist Andy Williams and had a nice chat with him.  Andy’s been dabbling in pro wrestling on the side and had a match planned for the following day at the Warped Tour date in Chicago.  He’s a big, mean looking dude, but was nothing but gracious in speaking with me.  Those few minutes were one of the day’s highlights for me.


Good thing I grab a bite to eat earlier, because the heavy music continued with Veil of Maya. Whether you want to describe their music as technical deathcore, melodic hardcore, or djent, it is heavy.  I was particularly fascinated watching guitarist Marc Okubo and bassist Danny Hauser.  They both played seven stringed variants of their instruments, and were both virtuosos of their crafts.  Their (relatively) new vocalist Lukas Magyar has added some clean vocals to the mix which takes a little of the edge of their classic style, but it was still a pretty intense set.


Many bands on Warped were playing tracks from recent releases, but Capsize actually released a new full length that very day.  Given that I figured I would check them out.  They were over on the smaller (Full Sail) stage, where I had seen some of my favorite sets of the day.  They had the honor of closing the day on that stage, and did an admirable job on this special day for them.


I wasn’t able to stay for the whole set for Capsize, because I needed to run back to the Monster stage again to catch deathcore heavyweights Whitechapel.  Vocalist Phil Bozeman has one of the biggest voices in the scene and I just had to catch them firsthand.  And he did not disappoint.  Along with the band featuring three guitars, they assaulted a crowd that was dehydrated, sunburned, and loving every minute of it.


The sun was starting to get low in the sky and the temperatures were finally starting to drop, but the day was not over.  Another ‘must see’ band on my list was Gideon, and they were last up on the ‘South’ Monster Energy stage.  I had never seen them live before, but my interest in them has recently been growing.  I was getting pretty tired by now, but these guys picked me up with their intense brand of metalcore.  It would have been a great way to end a great day, but there was one more band to catch.


Last but not least was Chicago based pop punk band Real Friends, over on the main stage.  I caught them last year when the toured with Every Time I Die and stuck around to the end to catch them again.  They are one of the more popular bands in the current emo-inspired pop punk genre, and they had quite a crowd stick around to finish of their day.  The guys delivered a great set, as expected, closing out the day with the audience chanting ‘one more song’. And that wrapped up my ninth Warped Tour.  That’s 20 bands, if I am counting correctly, plus an interview.  Adding to that the fact that I only got a minor sunburn, I’d call that a successful day.  The heat was no joke, with kids being hauled off in wheelchairs regularly from heat exhaustion/stroke.  Like any Warped Tour, there was still a long list of bands I would have like to have seen, such as The Story So Far, Teenage Bottlerocket, Chunk! No Captain Chunk!, Wage War, Chelsea Grin, Old Wounds, and Like Pacific.  All told I took over 2000 pictures, and a few of them I actually thought turned out decent.  I read recently that Warped’s creator Kevin Lyman said he’s not sure how long he will keep doing this.  I’m hoping at least long enough that I can take my seven year old to it someday.  But for now, I will cherish the memories and start looking forward to next year’s installment!





Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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