Mini Show Reviews: August 2016

Warped Tour Chicago – July 23
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Even though Warped didn’t make a Toronto stop this year, I was in Chicago for their date and I truly feel like I finally experienced Warped the way it’s meant to be experienced. There were no delays from bands struggling to cross the border; all the merch was available instead of stuck in transit; and it was so hot, I broke into a sweat just by sitting still (rather than being rained on, which happens every year). We started the day with Young Guns (highly recommend) just after noon and ended the night around 7:30pm with Sum 41 (Canadians represent!) who drew a huge crowd. In between, we saw about a dozen bands total (including partial sets from bands we happened to be passing or who we caught while waiting for the next band), but the highlight for us was The Maine who ALWAYS puts on a stellar show. I’m so glad we got a chance to hit up Warped this year – the summer just isn’t the same without a day at pop punk camp!


Seaway – July 29
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I’ve seen Seaway a couple of times before, but this was their first headlining tour (and they sold out their final date in Toronto!). They’re pure pop punk and I love it: nothing like thrashing around to bangers like “Freak” or “Your Best Friend” on a Friday night. I missed the first two opening bands because I was eating dinner (sidenote: people rave about Sneaky Dee’s but I was quite unimpressed – their nachos weren’t as good as other people would have me believe), but Coldfront was decent. I like how Canadian this tour was!


Nothing But Thieves – August 2
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For something completely non-Canadian, we saw Nothing But Thieves play their first Toronto show ever at the Velvet Underground (I’ve never been there, so that was cool). Opening band Weathers was really good – catchy and decent performers – and the second band, The Unlikely Candidates, were okay, but the singer was greasy in an unpleasant way and it coloured my ability to enjoy them (you know in books when people go to shows and the band is made up of really sleazy dudes? That was this guy). Nothing But Thieves, however, was phenomenal. His voice is so impressive (and very Matt Bellamy) on the album and live he’s even more powerful – check out “Excuse Me” for an example of his range. The highlights, of course, were “Wake Up Call” and “Trip Switch“, but the whole thing was well done and I’d 100% see them again.


blink 182 – August 21
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I’ve always wanted to see blink-182 live, and I finally got my chance on the 21st. I was all sorts of stoked when I originally found out that All Time Low was opening for them, and I definitely lost my voice during their set – they played “Six Feet Under the Stars” (the song that made me an ATL fan) which I wasn’t expecting, plus Jack Barakat ran past me halfway through the opening song (“Lost in Stereo“), and I ALMOST touched him. I’ve also heard great things about a live A Day To Remember show, and let me tell you, they did NOT disappoint. They’re literally everything I want in a band (and a little more), and I’m kicking myself for not getting into them sooner, because they’re sooooo good (“2nd Sucks” might be my new favourite song/video/thing in general).

So I was already pretty hyped before blink even came on stage…and while they were good, they weren’t as magnificent as I imagined. I’ve always heard that All Time Low’s stage presence was greatly influenced by blink, but there was no banter, and barely any audience interaction, apart from a handful of sentences thrown out by Mark Hoppus. And while the hits were awesome to sing along to (the crowd was so boisterous, I couldn’t even hear myself during songs like “The Rock Show” and “All the Small Things“), they seemed to be playing them by rote and without any real passion. I also have to say that, while Matt Skiba did a decent job on vocals, it was weird hearing certain songs without Tom DeLonge’s nasally voice, especially that second verse of “I Miss You“. It was still worthwhile seeing pop punk royalty like them, but they were probably more exciting a few years ago. Travis Barker is a MACHINE, though, and watching him drum was definitely the highlight of their set.

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Warped Tour 2015

I used my really great (and obvious) title for last year’s Warped recap, so I’m stuck with generically listing them from now on.

Anyway, this was my SIXTH Warped experience!

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For some reason, a bunch of bands on our list were playing between 1:50 and 3:20, so it was hard to determine who we saw and who we neglected, but we generally went with bands we’d never seen before (which meant I missed Neck Deep and The Wonder Years, but that’s okay because they both have new albums coming out, so I’ll catch them on tour). We “discovered” some new bands we ended up liking it (Moose Blood), saw some old favourites (Family Force 5), and managed to catch the top three bands we most wanted to see: PVRIS, Hands Like Houses, and Mallory Knox.

In order of when we saw them:

As It Is

They sound better live than they do recorded; also, he has a very high voice.

PVRIS

Vocalist Lynn sounds even more powerful live than recorded, and it’s so impressive. They played the main stage, and it was well deserved.

Moose Blood

A British band that has an old-school Taking Back Sunday vibe? Count me in!

Hands Like Houses

Three words: Australian David Beckham. The music is excellent too.

Asking Alexandria

We weren’t that impressed with them, which was sad because we were expecting their set to blow us away.

Black Veil Brides

Andy’s voice is considerably deeper than you would expect from someone who looks so effeminate, but it was a pleasant surprise.

Man Overboard

Classic pop-punk. You can’t really go wrong with Man Overboard, even if Zac’s dancing weirds us out.

Family Force 5

It’s impossible to stand still during one of their shows – it’s always so much fun.

Set It Off

“Why Worry” is such a jam.

Mallory Knox

We were front row and we didn’t stop screaming from the time they walked on stage. It was amazing.

We also saw part of ’68,Juliet Simms, and August Burns Red, plus the first song from This Wild Life before we wandered away to look for the Mallory Knox band members (we ended up finding Mikey, the singer, who was very sweet!).

Overall, it was one of the most successful Warped experiences we’ve had, despite it raining for the first 6.5 hours (including an hour when we were standing in line to get in). I can’t wait to see what next year brings!

A Guide to Surviving Music Festivals [re-direct to Mind the Gap]

It’s summer, which means it’s concert season. Since I’ll be attending Warped Tour for the sixth time on Friday, and I’m pretty much counting down the days until Riot Fest in September, I put together some tips and tricks to surviving a day-long music festival. You can check it out here and let me know if I missed anything important!

Also, feel free to check back on this blog next Monday for my Warped recap!

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Photo by Adam Elmakias, one of my favourite photographers – go check him out!

I couldn’t wait for the summer and the WARPED TOUR

It’s the most glorious time of the year – Vans Warped Tour is in full swing!

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I’ve attended the Toronto date since 2010 – it’s my second favourite day of summer (the first being Ro’s birthday, of course).

In the months leading to Warped, I carefully make a list of bands: which ones I desperately want to see, and which ones I wouldn’t mind seeing if I happen to have time. Because that is Warped’s biggest downfall: timing. Inevitably, a band you want to see will be on one stage and another band you want to see will be playing all the way on the other side of the grounds and you have to make the decision of which one is more important to you. It’s heartbreaking, but sacrifices must be made.

This year was a little more disorganized than the past few years (and that’s saying something!) For one, I hate the venue (the Flats at the Amphitheatre are a pain in the butt on a normal day – throw in a few thousand sweaty music fans, and you get chaos!), plus a lot of the bands were late crossing the border from Indiana, so the schedule wasn’t released until over an hour after doors opened.

I could dwell on the bands I (regrettably) missed (don’t even get me started on Crown the Empire because I might cry), but, after a rocky morning, the day got better.

On Friday, we had the best possible weather – the past two years, rain bursts delayed performances and basically just made a mess (Warped ’12 stands out in particular, as the tour was actually put on hold for almost an hour and everyone was crammed into the amphitheatre because of the storm) – but it was all clear skies and brisk windy periods.

These are the bands we saw (in order) and my favourite song of their set:

We the Kings

The Maine

The Ready Set

Neck Deep

The Summer Set

Breathe Carolina

We also saw parts of RealFriends (they were on right before The Maine) and The Color Morale (we could have seen more but they took forever to set up and we had to walk all the way across the grounds to see Breathe Carolina). Plus I met Rob Dyer from Skate4Cancer (who is one of the sweetest people in the WORLD), and Eric Halvorson and Nick Santino from A Rocket to the Moon (Nick was playing acoustic – stupidly enough at the same time as The Maine – and Halvo was their secondary merch/tech guy).

I was disappointed that there were bands that I missed (*sniff CROWN THE EMPIRE sniff*) (also, if Anberlin doesn’t play a final show here, I might riot), but at the end of the day, I was sweaty, sticky, smelly, and sore…and satisfied. I can’t pick a “best” Warped experience because each year has been so different (in terms of bands playing vs bands we actually saw, weather, etc), but it was still an excellent day of music, merch, and meeting band members – three of my favourite things.