Make no mistake – the conversation around Warped Tour is no longer framed as a discussion about the summer’s best music. That ship has sailed, and time will tell if the problems that plague this scene find resolution and if an answer is found to rectify the steady stream of sexual misconduct that continues to rear its ugly head. Until those answers come, it’s hard to care about much else.
At the same time, It’s All Dead was created with a purpose of finding light in the dark, spotlighting the music that makes our hearts full and our minds contemplative. Amidst the frustration surrounding this summer’s tour, we want to take a moment to highlight some of the good things – bands playing with passion and speaking life in a wounded scene.
Below is a collection of bands that we feel encapsulate that idea. Take a look at a few of our favorites from the tour’s recent stop in Noblesville, Indiana.
Palisades want you to move. The band’s unique blend of danceable electronics and crunchy hardcore riffs are the perfect pairing for hot summer days on Warped Tour. Vocalists Louis Miceli and Brandon Sidney combine cool melodies with spastic screams for a light/dark combination that adds an array of emotion to their tracks. Holding down the Kevin Says stage, Palisades appear to be gaining followers by the day.
This Wild Life
Just one year ago, acoustic duo This Wild Life were one of the biggest buzz bands on Warped Tour. This year, they’re holding down the main stage like scene veterans. Kevin Jordan and Anthony Del Grosso’s calm, unflappable presence on stage matches the peaceful journey through pain found on their debut, Clouded. The band even finds time to slip in a quick cover of blink-182’s “First Date” for good measure.
The Amity Affliction
The Amity Affliction’s last run on Warped Tour in 2013 found lead vocalist Joel Birch hospitalized and near the end of his rope. This year, the band appears re-energized, fresh off of the release of Let the Ocean Take Me. Birch roars with confidence while Ahren Stringer provides clean vocals that soothe against the band’s pounding sonic background. A substantial crowd sings along passionately as the band rocks the Monster Energy stage, emphasis on the “energy.”
Another buzz band turned breakout, PVRIS are riding high on White Noise, their smash debut album. Lynn Gunn has become a staple in this scene behind the microphone in less than a year, belting out powerful anthems like “My House”, while also being capable of crooning softly on more mellow numbers like “Holy”. When the band opens with “Fire” on the Unicorn stage, the crowd jumps to the beat, becoming a welcome backup choir for Gunn.
The Wonder Years
If you can’t wait for the upcoming release of No Closer to Heaven, you’re not alone. The Wonder Years have already claimed the pop punk crown, but they’re not taking their foot of the gas pedal. Dan Campbell is as lively as ever, singing his heart out to new single “Cardinals” as the crowd shouts along. It’s a fast-paced set, but every minute is filled with poppy guitar riffs, passionate vocals and pumping fists.
Pierce the Veil
It’s been three long years since Pierce the Veil released Collide with the Sky, an album that propelled the band to new heights. Now, the post-hardcore act is back on Warped Tour with a new song, “The Divine Zero”, and a massive set filled with powerful tracks like “Caraphernalia” and “Hell Above”. Vic Fuentes sounds as good as ever, and it’s hard not to get excited about the band’s forthcoming album, whenever it arrives.
As It Is
As It Is are making the most of their first run on Warped Tour. The British pop punk group made their mark earlier this year with their debut album Never Happy, Ever After. Their songs are full of melody and spunk and lead vocalist Patty Walters is chaotic on the stage as he sings his heart out. Walters may be a blur, but he’s still able to hit the notes with ease. After starting their set with “Speak Soft”, the band never takes their foot off of the gas pedal.
Metalcore vets blessthefall are Warped Tour pros at this point. Holding down the final set of the day on the Shark Stage, a large turnout sticks around to watch Beau Bokan and company rage through a collection of songs. New track “Up in Flames” sounds like the band at their best, combining crushing breakdowns with melodic passages that mesh with ease. Eric Lambert shreds through each song as Bokan runs from side to side, belting out his notes. It’s hard not to appreciate the work ethic of this band, especially when they show no signs of slowing down.
by Kiel Hauck
Kiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.