The Warped Tour debuted in 1995, making the traveling alternative music festival as old as its average attendee. And while punk acts have teeter-tottered in mainstream popularity in the intervening decades, the festival is still going strong with a mix of legacy acts and newer bands.
Skanking to the Oldies
This year’s main stage finds ’90s ska veterans Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish high up on the bill, in spots that might previously have been held by more contemporary groups. In fact, besides headliner Falling in Reverse, most of the bands on the main stage this year hail from the late ’90s and early 2000s—with Sum 41, New Found Glory, Yellowcard, and Four Year Strong rounding out the bill.
The mashed up genre of dissonant metal riffs and pop-punk choruses known as metalcore is a big part of Warped Tour these days. And much of the main two support stages’ acts fall into this category. Pioneers of the genre like Atreyu and Every Time I Die join a number of newer bands like Issues, Chelsea Grin, Oceans Ate Alaska, and the Japanese band Coldrain who are making their very first stop in the Bay Area.
Pop Punk Party
Many of the remaining bands on the bill walk a line between punk looks and pop hooks. Bands like Sykes from the UK (a three piece of keys, guitar, and drums), whose poppy choruses are really only a step or two removed from R&B. Bands from a similar mold are Australia’s Tonight Alive—an unabashedly pop group on the list—The Maine (not from Maine), and The Summer Set, whose lyric “I’m a bit too pop for the punk / but I’m too punk for the pop kids” may be on-the-nose but also seems to be the MO of many of this year’s bands.
Finally, there are the mainstays of pop-punk bands, like Teenage Bottlerocket, who play the Cyclops Stage this year, and Fat Wreck artist Masked Intruder. These two bands have been working the DIY and punk circuit for years and for many people represent the kind of ethos and drive found previously in the Less Than Jakes and New Found Glorys of the festival. Also included is Walnut Creek’s The Story So Far. Just be sure not to take any selfies on stage around them. A video of that group’s singer dropkicking a girl from the stage for doing just that went viral earlier this year.
The Warped Tour has made some rather odd booking decisions in the past. Case in point, that time they brought former From G’s To Gents contestant, dadaist rapper and aspiring professional wrestler RiFF RAFF along for the ride. In the spirit of keeping Warped attendees on their toes, they’ve done it again. This year’s award for biggest WTF artist to Atlanta’s Waka Flocka Flame, whose “Hard in Da Paint” is one of the major early anthems of trap music.
Van’s Warped Tour
Aug 6, 11am, $42
Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View