VANS WARPED TOUR 2010 Reviewed

A first birthday and sweet 16 are both important milestones in any existence, and Edmonton was the scene for both last Thursday.

Rolling through cities across North America for its 16th year, the Vans Warped Tour made its very first stop in Edmonton and put on one helluva show for the occasion. And in the midst of one of the city’s wettest summers, even the weather was there for the 7,000 fans and more than 50 bands made it out to Northlands’ fair grounds.

Over the years, this massive traveling punk and metal fest has exercised an ebb and flow with its sound and band line-ups and reverted to a heavier place this time out, which included a number of screamo, emo, hardcore and metalcore acts with less pop punk and fluff. But it was the old school punk bands, sounds that defined the original festival, which seemed to ring the high note this year. Or maybe it was simply because they were in Edmonton, as The Casualties’ Jake Kolatis pointed out.

With all the touring bands caravanning together, it took two full days to make the trip north from Warped’s last stop in Kansas, which Kolatis admits was the band’s low point of the tour. But with a little rest and a healthy fan base here, The Casualties were an Edmonton highlight. They not only had Edmonton’s Graeme McKinnon from the Wednesday Night Heroes up on stage singing The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop,” but Andrew W.K. and a couple oompa loompas from Beacher’s Madhouse for an all-out party finale.

As with any undertaking of this size, set times for the seven different stages were skewed off the get go with some running ahead of time and others lagging far behind. This meant missing Face To Face, another old school group and the only one from the original line-up in 1995, in exchange for The Casualties.

But where one door closes, another opens.

Seven stages running at all different times provided the opportunity to catch a ton of fairly new and unknown bands breaking into the scene. And it also gives the bands an opportunity to prove their mettle and solidify reputations in the midst of their peers. I’d seen and dismissed Alkaline Trio in the past thinking they lacked much edge or integrity. But slotted for a midday set, figured the band was worth a second look and was immediately impressed to hear the trio from Illinois praising Canadian bands. And they gave a special nod to Canadian punk veterans No Means No before playing a cover of their “Two Lips, Two Lungs and One Tongue,” but lost their footing by telling the crowd the Victoria band hailed from Calgary. Way to show the love guys!

Another Warped regular, Pennywise, is totally pro and put on a great show for the massive crowd. Singer Zoli Teglas exercised a lot of faith in his fans when he dove in to surf amongst them with his microphone. And they kept his head above water for a good couple minutes before letting him go under. Unfortunately, it was a young crowd still learning the ways of crowd chaos etiquette, but Teglas took it well and once back on a solid stage, wrapped up the set with a shout out to Warped Tour’s founder Kevin Lyman.

Not a young band by any means, Riverboat Gamblers put on an impressive show, erupting with the most energy seen on any stage of the day. And instead of testing crowd etiquette, singer Mike Wiebe offered the budding fans a priceless lesson – how to form a proper circle pit. He ran off stage and reappeared pushing a large metal cart into the centre of the crowd. Standing on it and towering above the hundred or so fans at the stage, he called the willing into a moving circle around him that graduated into a fury of arms, bodies and yells.

The brave walked away with a new experience under their belts while other, younger attendees retreated back to the softer stages where most of the new bands on tour were playing.

It’d be a good guess that many in the mostly female crowd out for The Early Strike and Disco Curtis, turning out poppy songs about young love and life, were also enjoying sweet 16s this year. It was also many of these teenagers that formed massive line ups for autographs from bands like Suicide Silence and Parkway Drive, the amicable Australian metalcore group that closed out the day.

All in all, Edmonton’s first Warped Tour was a fine time indeed. Fans were exhausted, the site wore the dirty and debris found in the wake of a good party and there’s already talk about next year’s fest.

more in Music Review     |     posted Aug 10th, 2010 at 9:45pm     

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