This year’s Warped Tour brought us a packed-to-the-brim venue. The heat didn’t stop people from arriving in droves, with a line that resembled a snake curving it’s way though the parking lot in a somewhat organized fashion. Whatever the reason, it was great to see people of all ages and creeds, from all walks of life, join together to hear some great music.
It was like a big party, with people crowding as close to the stage as possible for the acts they love or kicking back on the grassy knoll, playing hacky-sack, smoking or simply getting a reprieve from the sun for a few minutes.
With nearly 70 bands ready to perform for the masses across Xfinity Center’s seven stages and all genres of music represented, it was bound to be a fun event. I had the opportunity sit down with Buddy Schaub from Less Than Jake to get his thoughts on Warped Tour, what it’s like to constantly tour and what new things are coming up for the band. Unfortunately, a few moments earlier, he hit his head pretty hard on an air conditioner, but he was still able to talk to me. Still coming down off the high of their 2013 release, See the Light, the band did recently put out a live album from the Astoria show they did in 2001. As for anything new, it might be a little while before we see something on the shelves. The reason? They are just too damn busy.
“We were gone almost a whole year touring and had the intent of coming home and writing, but we found we had six or seven ideas going, and none of us were totally feeling it, so we scrapped all of it and started over. We came up with a bunch of new ideas that we started working on in May, but rather than just rush something out, we want to wait until we know that it’s right. That’s the good thing about not having a label poking you in the ribs and self-producing our work.”
Now with some tours planned, such as Mexico City; their hometown of Gainsville, Fla., England and other parts of Europe, it may be some time before they get to focus on getting a new album out, but fans all around the world will get to see them live, and their performance later in the day had the crowd going completely nuts, so I definitely don’t see these guys retiring in the near future (or at all).
In addition to all the excellent music at the tour, there were many organizations there supporting a cause. Everything from smoking cessation, to animal rights, to breast cancer awareness, to child hunger awareness, to keeping the earth green and more. One of the organizations, Can You Hear Me?, which is based in Maine, is doing great things in the world of allowing young adults to communicate their fears, worries and vices. It provides an outlet for teens to share their voice in a safe place without judgment when they feel there is no one who is listening. Ashley Adler Coro and her mother, Jessica, founded the organization after having lost a young family member to suicide. They tried very hard to get suicide prevention programs into her school and others and were shut down, often being told that it was “too dark of a subject.” Their closed Facebook page provides a place for expression and is monitored so that everything going up is appropriate and organization representatives talk to all those who share.
“It’s really a place where people know that they will be listened to and at least one person is hearing them and that they won’t run the risk of negativity or backlash because of something they said (the page disables comments), which I think is important. They could post on Twitter or their own Facebook page or wherever, but there is this huge risk out there that somebody may not agree and just say the worst things to them for no reason. For those who may suffer from depression or mental health issues, that one thing could put them right over the edge and we are trying to get rid of that,” Adler Coro said.
I mentioned that it seems like depression and anxiety among teenagers is at all-time high, and though it has always existed, I asked her for her opinion on why it seems to be getting worse. She had a really great response, telling me “kids have so much access to the Internet now. Even kids who would maybe never say something to someone’s face now have this tool to destroy someone’s life. We have it drilled into our heads that once we post something or someone posts something on social media that it is always there, that it never goes away, and so it’s hard to escape. It sits and festers and more and more kids are living with that anxiety.”
Kids have also been sharing their stories anonymously at the Can You Hear Me? tent at the festival, and the organization offers some fun promotions. For instance, they hide a golden ticket in the venue each tour date and post clues on their website as to its location, offering a prize to whoever finds it. They are also partnering with bands, such as From Ashes to New, which have platforms for helping other people.
One band that has been through some very difficult personal challenges is Vanna. Their new release, All Hell, is a culmination of all of those experiences. Vocalist Davey Muise, who fought his own battle with depression, believes in being proud of both your accomplishments and your failures.
“Through everything I have gone through, the good, the bad, the self-inflicted … I am proud of it all. The album shares that you should be proud of what you’ve been through and who you are now. I speak at different schools, and some of these kids are battling addictions that some adults have never seen before in their life. And the fact that they are here and living and trying to be happy – they should be proud of that … life really owes you nothing. It’s a lot of hard work, and it’s about finding something that you love and bad things will come along here and there, but it’s about how big the good stuff is. Chase those good things, chase those things that make you happy, because as you’re chasing, you’re growing,” Muise said.
The reaction to All Hell has been overwhelming. Though the album just came out, people are posting about how much they love it, sales are through the roof, and the kids have spoken. Having listened to the album, I can agree that this is one of my favorites at the moment and likely will be for a long time. I can think of many words for it, but impactful is at the top of my list. Vanna’s live performance brought out kids singing every single word, and their energy was contagious, with crowd-surfers trying like hell to get closer, and Muise jumping into the crowd to do the same. A local boy, he mentioned that he gets very emotional when he plays at home like this – there is something unique about playing here, even though he has been around the world.
One of my favorite performances of the day was The Maine, an Arizona band that has really been coming into the limelight in recent years. Last year’s American Candy album really propelled them forward. They have recently released Covers – Side A and Covers – Side B, which I thought was a really interesting choice. I’ve always found it funny that there seems to be some industry debate on whether it is okay to do covers or stick to only original music, but everyone secretly loves a good cover.
The Maine has covered some unexpected bands on these albums, including Justin Beiber and Shania Twain. My favorite is their cover of the Backstreet Boys’ As Long as you Love Me, which I’d argue is better than the original. I spoke with drummer Pat Kirch, who let me know how they went about choosing which songs to cover for the albums.
“It’s something we’ve always done throughout our career, really. It gives us an excuse to try whatever we want, and we’ll do some weird things; for instance, we did one song in the style of The Killers because it was just a different spin on it. We listen to the songs and start playing around with the chords to see if we can do it in an interesting way. It’s a lot of fun,” Kirch said.
The band has rented a house out in California to focus on writing after the tour, so we have that to look forward to.
Other notable performances included Sleeping with Sirens, who mentioned they were hungry and asked the audience for snacks and were immediately pummeled with everything from goldfish crackers to granola bars and Hostess cupcakes. Chelsea Grin, Sum 41, We the Kings, From Ashes to New, Yellowcard, Whitechapel, New Found Glory and Worcester natives, Four Year Strong, all made my top 10 list as well.
By Jennifer Russo