In the early 2000s rock was in its prime. There wasn’t a single soul who didn’t at the very least know Linkin Park and Evanescence. And when Green Day launched the legendary “American Idiot” album it grew so popular that a Jamaican covered the song.
Fast-forward to a decade later and rock has slipped into the shadows. Rock labels have disappeared, and rock bands aren’t getting nearly the support they used to. I needn’t look further than Atlanta, where everyone is hyped up on trap music and the “cool factor” of African American culture.
In a city like this, the rockers stand out, and nowhere near as much as when thousands congregate at Vans Warped Tour. This year was my second, and I had way more fun than I did the first time.
Here’s who I saw, what I did, and a few shots from some of the most amazing bands on tour this year.
I got to Vans Warped Tour at 11:30 AM thinking I was late. Little did I know I would stand in line for an entire hour alternating between Georgia rain and shine as Mother Nature tried to decide what to do with the ink-skinned, pink-haired, blue lipped kids in line.
There was endless entertainment while we waited, though. There was one kid asking us to pay for his therapy, by buying his “iceys”, and two fashionistas walking the line squirting us with water to cool us down.
Finally, Vans Warped Tour felt sorry for us and sent out a van with free ice cold Monster Energy drinks for the crowd.
One guy ran to the van screaming, “Feed us! Please feed us! We’re poor!”
The first band I caught on stage was Microwave. I had never heard of them before, but the lead vocalist caught my attention immediately. He was a great singer, but I was being stingy with my batteries and didn’t record a video.
Now I want to kick myself, because once I got home and checked out the band, they didn’t sound nearly as good as they did live.
Memphis May Fire
I didn’t really plan to see Memphis May Fire, but once they took the stage, they were hard to ignore. Then they started to play one of my newest Spotify discoveries – No Ordinary Love – and I was sold.
The song is three years old now, but still pretty darn amazing. Check out a snippet below. With all the pushing and shoving, the mic gets blocked every so often, so bear with me.
Dance Gavin Dance
After Memphis May Fire, I was ready to see one of the bands I had highlighted on my list for the day. One of the main reasons I really love Dance Gavin Dance is that they always pick really amazing vocalists.
I was a fan when Jonny Craig was their lead singer, and after he gave that up to Tilian, Tilian had me wondering Jonny Craig, who? Sad to say, I was really disappointed by their performance.
The unclean vocalist, Jon Mess, really played his part, but Tilian was not having a good vocal day. He couldn’t hold his notes and was just overall really weird and uncomfortable-looking on stage.
In the right corner of my eye though, I glimpsed hope in the form of Andrew Wells. With eye-candy like that before me, I happily forgave and forgot. He was hands down the most comfortable person on the DCD stage, followed close behind by Jon Mess.
Much as I still love Dance Gavin Dance, I skipped out on their last song and high-tailed it to the Hard Rock stage to catch The Ataris. And not a moment too soon!
The closer I got, the more I could distinguish them playing one of my absolute favourite songs, In this Diary – a true relic from my teen years. So I ran, so I sang, and by the time I got there, I was pumped and ready to go. I got there just in time to catch this snippet:
What I found surprising was how tiny the crowd was that had come to see them. True, I hadn’t heard anything from The Ataris since the earlier 2000s, but had people really forgotten them?
In any case, The Ataris really didn’t care. They sang and played like it was nobody’s business, and closed out their set with another favourite of mine: Boys of Summer. They were the best show I had seen all day.
By then, hours had gone by and it was time for a lunch break. While I ate, an angelic voice on stage caught my attention. I was way too far away on the lawn to get a good shot of her, but luckily I found a video from a fan in the crowd.
Check her out for yourself. She’s yet another band on Vans Warped Tour 2017 that sounds way better in person. I didn’t like her albums half as much as I enjoyed hearing her on stage.
Andy Black etc.
A whirl of other bands passed by during my lunch, including Andy Black and some other etceteras I didn’t quite pay attention to. Andy Black did seem quite popular with the ladies, and reminded me of William Control.
After Andy Black, I decided it was a good time to read Harry Potter, while I waited for the last three acts I wanted to see. There was one band that caught my attention during that time, and that was Hands Like Houses with Perspectives.
I wasn’t close enough to get a good shot, but here’s the official music video for the song that finally made me ditch Harry, Hermione, and Ron at a Quidditch World Cup in Britain.
Then down came the rain. Those who were outside fled inside, and those who were already inside (like yours truly) fled to the lower levels. At this point, American Authors was on stage, commending us for our bravery in the Atlanta rain.
I had checked them out on Spotify after seeing them on the Vans Warped Tour 2017 lineup for Atlanta. They were okay, but I was in no rush to see them live. I’m glad I saw them, anyway.
American Authors put on one of the best shows that day. They are definitely one of those bands that are best appreciated live. Their songs are catchy, the lead vocalist sings like an angel, and they are the only band who can play a banjo without grating my ears.
By the way, see that “mist” in the video? That’s the rain blowing into the Lakewood Amphitheater.
Failed William Control Spotting
After American Authors, I ran off to try and catch William Control on stage, so I could get a shot for Alyssa (my best friend and Senior Designer at the firm), by the Skullcandy stage.
I waited for half an hour in the rain, only to see White Noise come on stage, instead. The rain had delayed all the shows on the Skullcandy stage and it would be another 50 minutes at least before he came on.
By then, I barely had time to rush back to the Journeys stage to catch Hawthorne Heights. I made it back just as the guys started piling on stage. Of all the bands I really wanted to see that day, Hawthorne Heights topped the list.
I wouldn’t call myself their biggest fan, but The Silence in Black & White album coincided with a particular tough time in my teenage years.
There was one song that stood out most from that album, and was the only single they released but never made a video for.
It’s nowhere near as popular as the others, so I was really surprised when the band started playing it. The lead singer, JT Woodruff, then came down into the crowd to hang out, and help get the moshers to safety. I got lucky and caught the best lines of that performance.
The song most people know Hawthorne Heights for is Niki FM, and since they tailored their entire set around their “oldies” they were sure to play that, too.
There’s still one more band I had on my list that day that I haven’t mentioned here. Why? Because they were hands-down the best performers, and deserve a whole post to themselves.
They’re a brand new fave of mine that I discovered maybe just weeks before I saw the Warped Tour lineup. That said, I won’t be naming them. You’ll just have to stick around for my second Vans Warped Tour post..