It’s 9 am, and the line’s already down the street. The marine layer in Ventura is starting to recede, and the sun is shining bright. My Irish complexion is already starting to feel the burn, and I’m already two layers-deep in sunscreen.
I see people of all ages and races, lined up, anxious to see their favorite bands and get their faces rocked. I’ve already been accosted by an innumerable amount of hopeful bands begging for their chance in the spotlight. And the Vegans are in our faces armed with pamphlets and those rubber wristbands.
Welcome to the 2014 Vans Warped Tour.
This year is a big deal. It’s the 20 the Anniversary, and they’ve pulled out all the stops. Vendors peddling their band’s merch, various food trucks offering artery-clogging specialties, and more hopefuls clamping for attention.
Volumes & Vanna are on the two main stages as opening acts, and after their sets, I know I’m in for an amazing day. I had a short meet & greet with Vanna afterwards, and those are some talented, hard-working dudes. It’s always refreshing to meet a band that’s truly grateful for their fans.
Everywhere I turn, there’s smoke from cigerrettes & joints, I see goths, scene girls, bored parents, and even ravers. And the feeling of excitement in the air is all but tangible.
There were SO many good sets, it’s difficult to pick a favorite. Bowling for Soup stands out, mostly due to the fact that half way through the set they stopped playing and did a photo op.
Brilliant. They even pulled off a decent cover of “Stacy’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne.
Easily my favorite set was Four Year Strong, obviously being one of my favorite bands, and they were cool enough to autograph a posters after their set. I even got a quick picture with frontman Alan.
There were so many intense sets, like those of The Devil Wears Prada and Finch, as well as a surprising amount of genuine and sincere moments that were shared by bands like For Today, The Color Morale, The Ghost Inside, and The Word Alive. If you ever get an opportunity to see any of those four bands I just listed, do it. They love their fans and love what they do.
Halfway through the day, the crowd was given a nice little surprise show from none other than Linkin Park. I’m not exaggerating when I say that half of the stalls closed to see this set. They easily had the largest crowd out of any other band playing. Although admittedly I’m not much a fan of Linkin Park ever since Minutes to Midnight came out, but I’ve got to say, they put on a decent show. The moment that stuck out the most for me, however, was when they were joined by The Devil Wears Prada frontman Mike Hranica for an INTENSE performance of their classic Meteora tune “Faint.”
After hours of head banging, getting baked by the sun, surviving circle pits, trying not to get contact highs, avoiding unnecessary contact with mostly naked dudes wearing bunny ears and girls whose ages were questionable, we finally ended our day with a crazy set from the most intense, and pure hardcore band I have ever had the opportunity to see. TERROR
These guys don’t mess around. The frontman was in the crowd 90% of the time, calling out those acts like Attilla & Motionless in White, and making it very clear that a rock star complex has no business in hardcore.
All in all, I’m really thankful to have had the opportunity to attend the 20th anniversary of the now legendary Vans Warped Tour, and am looking forward to many more to come.
Some honorable mentions: Less Than Jake, Bayside, Acidic, Yellowcard, Mixtapes, Beens and Her Money Makers, and the fantastic Every Time I Die.
Also, this guy: