Warped Tour – Flats at Arrow Hall – Toronto, ON – July 9th, 2010

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN LITHIUM MAGAZINE

Review by Aaron Binder
Photos & afterward by Mike Bax

www.vanswarpedtour.com

Every year the Warped Tour comes around and every year it seems to become a little more unpredictable.  Maybe the onset of age has become a factor, maybe not, but it does seem like the feel-good, party atmosphere of the late 90’s/early 00’s has passed on.  In its stead, the slightly more serious and determined crowds are there to see their favourite bands, but even more importantly, be a part of something just because it’s there.

Growing up in a small town almost two hours from the nearest tour dates lent a certain fascination with attending Warped, it made everything seem that much more real after taking that car ride with good friends and tunes that never deviated from the bands that were playing that particular year.  We’d all take the day off from our summer jobs, wake up earlier than normal, if we even slept, and then take the cross border trip with a wallet full of cash for merch and the sheer excitement that came with being able to see so many bands all in the same day.

That feeling has never left.  The people may have changed, the role of observer may have changed from one generation to the next, but after all this time the reason has never changed – seeing some great music with great people.

I got to hang out with Lithium photographer Mike Bax and we both reminisced about our previous Warped experiences while gaining a bunch of new ones.  Here are some of the bands we checked out.

He parties harder when there are dozens of him on his shirt.

Andrew WK
Some may call this guy a has-been or even a never-was, but when the wall of WK sound hits live, you know you’re in for a great time. Andrew’s motto is ‘party hard’ and the guy lives up to it on stage.

He brought the full outfit out for Warped Tour; big burly band members, a bunch of free shirts that kept slipping off his back every few songs, and even an aerobics instructor on backup vocals…seriously.

They played through a set that ended with the best song, Party Hard. It seemed at times that Andrew may have partied a little too hard the night before though, leaving the aerobics babe to do most of the jumping.

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
“This next one is called Your Cousin’s on COPS.”

When you’re talking about Warped Tour, the topic of which bands are playing is usually the first conversation. Usually there are a bunch of punk derivatives and then a couple of oddly-related bands that are there for diversity.

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band is definitely a diversity band and the name pretty much gives them away.  Well, not really if you think about it.  This is a band so unique that you have to see them to believe them.  Allow me to demonstrate their strangeness with the following word association:

Drums. Check.

Banjo. Check.

Washboard. Check.

As mentioned, this is a band that needs to be heard to be believed. Their live show is pretty hilarious, plus if you’re a fan of washboard solos then you’ll want to be front and centre for the flaming solo at the end of their set.

Enter Shikari
Watching Enter Shikari is like watching someone else play a video game – enjoyable, unpredictable, but sometimes you’re left asking why.  They were pretty sloppy on the instruments and the vocals needed some work.  It’s hard to hold that against a band that just seems excited to be on stage, though.

It probably wouldn’t be worth paying a bunch of cash to see them live, but they certainly are an entertaining bunch if you happen to catch them.  Their stage antics are endearing, the British accents are certain to woo more than just a few ladies, and the sometimes scary stage movement definitely contributes to a pretty fun show if you can get past the sloppy playing.

Whitechapel
Three words: brutal, devastating, extreme. None of them describe White Chapel better than another, but combined you get a pretty good idea of what’s in store at one of their shows.

Utilizing a bigger is better philosophy, the band draws upon the power of 3 massive sounding guitars to create a wall of sound that puts Phil Spector to shame – the guitars also seemed slightly less murderous.  Drawing on the power of 3, the band attempted some triple-trouble circle pit action, although they only achieved two at once, it was still pretty damn impressive.

It was difficult to understand what was happening on stage at times – they’re definitely a ‘read the lyrics’ kind of band.  Luckily for them, it seemed that everyone in the crowd had done just that, so the band didn’t look foolish when the microphone was extended outward for growl-a-longs.

Even with the brutal wall of guitar thrashing around every human in sight, the songs did become redundant after hearing the same progression in almost every tune.  Just like Enter Shikari, these guys are definitely worth seeing if they’re around, but probably not worth the price tag of a solo headlining tour.

All things said and done, Warped Tour can be hit or miss depending on who happens to be playing any given year.  Compared to last year, this year’s lineup seemed to be cobbled together without any true heavy-hitters of the punk genre present for the Canadian leg of the tour.  What will next year hold?  We’ll have to wait and see, but one thing is for sure, that one 45 year-old dude with 3 Casualties patches on his never-washed jean jacket, is sure to be there.

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