Bands to watch – Warped Tour 2015

Set It Off frontman Cody Carson takes a leap of faith and shows off his signature crowd walk at this Vans Warped Tour in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Set It Off frontman Cody Carson takes a leap of faith and shows off his signature crowd walk at this year’s Vans Warped Tour in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

www.ncfcatalyst.com Online Exclusive

By Caitlyn Ralph for the Catalyst

Despite heat indexes frequently over 100 degrees, rain always a looming possibility, and occasional controversy, the traveling “punk rock summer camp,” officially known as Van Warped Tour, has hit cities across America for the past 20 summers, bringing along dozens of established and up-and-coming acts in the scene. Evolving from its pure punk roots, Warped Tour now includes music from all ends of the alternative genre and beyond, everything from pop punk, hardcore, and indie pop, resulting in a mecca for concert enthusiasts and fans alike. The two month long tour weaves it way through the states and sets up in different parking lots, amphitheaters, and fairgrounds each day. Nine stages with individual names and usually an individual musical style surround the premises, filled with band merch and non-profit charity tents in between, creating what looks like a young adult flea market. Through its evolution, Warped Tour now includes other entertainment avenues that often interconnect with music, including “Warped YouTubers,” a spoken word section, and a comedy tent. While some complain about the increasing amount of commercialization and sponsors, no one can deny the irreplaceable career kickstarter the tour is for young bands and the excellent causes it advertises (see Living the Dream Foundation, Do Something, and Feed Our Children NOW!, the latter collects literally tons of cans and donates them to local charities at each stop). Here’s a list of ten must-see acts on Vans Warped Tour 2015.

  1. Moose Blood
Moose Blood singer Eddy Bremerton tells the crowd how much he misses his wife and daughter at an intimate acoustic performance.
Moose Blood singer Eddy Brewerton tells the crowd how much he misses his wife and daughter at an intimate acoustic performance.

All the way from Canterbury, England, this year’s Warped Tour marks Moose Blood’s first time in America. Their latest release I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time to Time cements their unique image as a dreamy, emo band, complete with soothing vocals and melodic instrumentals. Moose Blood possesses this undeniable charm that sets them apart from a sea of appearingly similar music. Possibly the most enchanting part, the band’s lyrics chronicle extremely personal stories, relationships, and scenes in a blunt, relatable, and tangible way. A strong full band performance was followed by a lovely acoustic set from frontman Eddy Brewerton. With these two opportunities, there is no excuse, and no reason, not to catch Moose Blood.

Check-out: “Gum” on I’ll Keep You in Mind, From Time to Time

Stage: Journey’s Left Foot (full band) and Full Sail University Acoustic Basement (Brewerton)

Dates: Whole tour

  1. Neck Deep

Continuing with the international presence, pop punkers Neck Deep hail from Wrexham, England. The band formed in mid-2012, and since then have signed to popular independent label Hopeless Records, toured with pop punk mainstays Real Friends and Knuckle Puck, and are about to complete two years on Warped Tour. Honing in on traditional pop punk archetypes (see their “generic pop punk” embroidered merch flag), Neck Deep easily attracted a devoted fanbase with the perfect combination of smooth brash vocals from lead singer Ben Barlow and coming-of-age lyrics. The band’s set overflowed with energy, reflecting their fastpass to scene stardom in the past two years.

Check-out: “Can’t Kick Up the Roots” on their upcoming album Life’s Not Out to Get You

Stage: Journey’s Left Foot

Dates: Whole tour

  1. PVRIS
Commanding the crowd with effortless energy, PVRIS frontwoman Lynn Gunn impressive with a solid early morning set.
Commanding the crowd with effortless energy, PVRIS frontwoman Lynn Gunn impresses with a solid early morning set.

In an industry dominated by male presence, Rise Records, traditionally known for their metalcore bands, signed their first female-fronted act last year, powerful pop rockers PVRIS. (And no, it’s not pronounced “p-virus.” It’s “paris.”) Since playing dates on the 2013 and 2014 Warped Tours, PVRIS released their highly anticipated debut album White Noise in November to massively positive receptions. By pairing empowering vocals with electronica melodies and a hard rock mentality with an aesthetic-filled image, the band is a refreshing dark horse quickly turning heads in the scene. Their performance, fuelled by songs that emit an irresistible flair, caused the audience to constantly be off its feet. Practically screaming Top 40 potential, PVRIS is a band to catch in the small Warped Tour setting before they pull an Echosmith and break down the barriers of mainstream success.

Check-out: “My House” on White Noise

Stage: Journey’s Left Foot (but frequently gets bumped to mainstage)

Dates: Whole tour

  1. The Wonder Years
Among the misty haze of Albuquerque's evening sunset, The Wonder Years show Warped Tour how it's done.
Among the misty haze of Albuquerque’s evening sunset, The Wonder Years show Warped Tour how it’s done.

When viewing the history of punk, pop punk in particular, a timeline that starts to emerge, with certain bands defining an era. The current sad boys generation has The Wonder Years, a band that possesses so much dominance in the genre that up-and-comers can only hope and dream to procure an opening spot to support them on tour. In a Major League – also on Warped Tour this year – song called “Seasons,” The Upsides is clearly referenced, for example. The scene just waits for The Wonder Years to trip up, to put some holes in their respected pop punk image, but it never happens. They simply produce genre-defining album after album. With continuing success from their latest release, aptly titled The Greatest Generation, the Pennsylvania-bred pop punkers are spending a summer, their tenth year together, on Warped Tour before the their new album, No Closer to Heaven, drops from Hopeless Records in September. The single “Cardinals” is already proving that the band’s control over the scene is, rightfully, here to stay. With their perfected pop punk attitude, sing-alongs that get the whole audience active, and crowd surfers competing for frontman Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s attention, The Wonder Years are an experienced entertaining act that should not be missed this year.

Check-out: “Passing Through a Screen Door” on The Greatest Generation

Stage: Shark (main)

Dates: Whole tour

  1. Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties
Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties (A.K.A. Dan "Soupy" Campbell from The Wonder Years) performs to a packed acoustic basement.
Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties (A.K.A. Dan “Soupy” Campbell from The Wonder Years) performs to a packed acoustic basement.

While we’re on the subject of The Wonder Years frontman Campbell, the talented and versatile musician has a mainly acoustic solo project entitled Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties. A semi-autobiographical character, Aaron West is personified by Campbell. His debut album, We Don’t Have Each Other, released last summer and chronicles West’s journey through his father dying, his wife losing their baby and subsequently leaving him, and his emotional reaction to the devastating events. Dubbed “a character study through music,” the album is an experience, an experience that carries over onto Campbell’s intimate performance. Instead of assuming his actual self, Campbell characterizes Aaron West through the set, telling heartfelt anecdotes between songs, adding insight, captivating attention, shifting performance to story along the way.

Check-out: “St. Joe Keeps Us Safe” on We Don’t Have Each Other

Stage: Full Sail University Acoustic Basement

Dates: Whole Tour

  1. As It Is
Exuding charisma, As It Is frontman Patty Walters is playful and entertaining with his attentive audience.
Exuding charisma, As It Is frontman Patty Walters is playful and entertaining with his attentive audience.

The first British outfit signed to popular independent label Fearless Records, As It Is have came out swinging since their formation in 2012. A frontrunner in the upcoming pop punk generation, the band released their debut album Never Happy, Ever After (reviewed by the Catalyst here) earlier this year after completing their first tour in America. Named one of Alternative Press’ “100 Bands You Need to Know” for 2015 and “Best British Newcomer” by Rocksound Magazine’s readers poll, the band has clearly developed a solid base for their promising future in the scene. Vocals from frontmen Patty Walters and Benjamin Biss play off each other, simultaneously adding an extra layer of interest to As It Is’ set and separating the pop punkers from the rest. Walters bounces around the stage, singing with fans, inevitably passing on an air of excitement to the crowd. Everyone watching can tell he’s having fun, so they follow suit.

Check-out: “Dial Tones” on Never Happy, Ever After

Stage: Journey’s Right Foot

Dates: Whole tour

  1. Set It Off
Boasting an impressive live track record, Set It Off, expectedly, treated Albuquerque Warped Tour to a captivatingly energetic performance.
Boasting an impressive live track record, Set It Off, expectedly, treated Albuquerque Warped Tour to a captivatingly energetic performance.

After personally seeing Set It Off live six times, the band never fails to impress with a fantastic performance like no other. Their latest album, Duality, released October of last year, transcended music to be a message, a lifestyle, a brand that Set It Off have integrated into every aspect of the group’s image. Based in Tampa, Florida, Set It Off began in 2008 after lead singer Cody Carson gained cult internet fame through his YouTube covers. Set It Off redefine themselves with every album, making it nearly impossible to pigeonhole the band’s sound with one concise label. However, the flexibility and diversity of Set It Off is something to be admired, exemplified with the release of Duality Stories Unplugged, a charming acoustic EP. Led by Carson’s natural born talent as a frontman, Set It Off’s live performances conjure up an indescribable amount of energy as soon as the first note drops. Carson crowd walks, interacts with fans, and projects an impressive vocal range, packing an incredibly fulfilling experience into a succinct 30 minute Warped Tour set.

Check-out: “Wild Wild World” on Duality Stories Unplugged

Stage: Journey’s Left Foot (but frequently gets bumped to mainstage)

Dates: Whole tour

  1. Never Shout Never
Never Shout Never's set was carefree, fun, and youthful, everything Warped Tour should be.
Never Shout Never’s set was carefree, fun, and youthful, everything Warped Tour should be.

After breaking everyone’s middle school hearts with the beautifully honest album What Is Love?, Never Shout Never experienced a series of ups and downs in the past five years. Though there are many high points within the impressive amount of music the band produced in that short time, even frontman Christofer Drew admits that their last two releases, Sunflower and Indigo, “were total flops.” However, with Drew admitting defeat and realizing his own shortcomings as a musician and as a person, the band has bounced back with the infectiously catchy summer single “Hey! We OK” off their upcoming album Black Cat. The song injects hope into Drew and co., a feeling, it seems, the band hasn’t had for a while. Everything that Never Shout Never should be, “Hey! We OK” is an anthem to those who accept their failures. The song basically screams “be yourself and be proud.” Playing mainstage for another summer on this year’s Warped Tour, Never Shout Never, with Drew boasting freshly dyed bright blonde locks, treats the audience to an entertaining set that focuses on the band’s popular older material.

Check-out: “Hey! We OK” on their upcoming album Black Cat

Stage: Shark (main)

  1. Our Last Night
Our Last Night frontman Trevor Wentworth possesses a powerful live presence, allowing his vocals to complement his brother's Matt.
Our Last Night frontman Trevor Wentworth possesses a powerful live presence, allowing his vocals to complement his brother Matt’s.

With most of the members starting when they were teenagers, or, as in frontman Trevor Wentworth’s case, even younger, Our Last Night celebrated their tenth anniversary as a band last summer on their co-headlining “Come Alive Tour” with Set It Off. A twisty ten years to say the least, the band signed to Epitaph Records, left when their contract expiredwent DIY, and has since released two strong EPs and just recently a powerful full length, fittingly titled Younger Dreams (see the Catalyst’s review here). Enjoying the positive reaction to the record, Our Last Night is a tasteful addition to this year’s Warped Tour lineup. Through experimentation with a series of popular YouTube covers, Our Last Night have perfected the combination of clean and unclean vocals between Wentworth and his brother Matt, forming an immensely enjoyable and accessible listening experience. If the inspiring Younger Dreams is any indication, Our Last Night have a successful ten years ahead of them.

Check-out: “Prisoners” on Younger Dreams

Stage: Monster Energy

Dates: Whole tour

  1. This Wild Life
The simplicity of This Wild Life's set on Warped Tour is charming and attractive.
The simplicity of This Wild Life’s set on Warped Tour is charming and attractive.

This Wild Life possesses an odd relationship with the scene. Beginning as a pop punk effort, the band’s lineup slimmed to just Kevin Jordan and Anthony Del Grosso. Deciding to embrace a new path rather than recreate an old one, the duo became an exclusively acoustic outfit, producing beautifully melodic and calming songs that still pack a punch with every chorus. However, even with their chill, “punk rock acoustic” mentality, Jordan and Del Grosso frequently find themselves touring among the likes of Emery and Slaves. This Wild Life’s heartfelt and honest lyrics address a wide variety of themes, including break-up, acceptance, and, yes, puppy love. Appearing on Warped Tour 2011, 2012, 2014, and now 2015, This Wild Life are a seasoned and solid act not to be missed.

Check-out: “Sleepwalking – Live Session” (Bring Me the Horizon cover) on Clouded Atmosphere Edition.

Stage: Journey’s Left Foot

Bonus bands to keep on the radar: TransitKnuckle PuckMajor LeagueAlvarez KingsCitizenSeaway, and Baby Baby.

Information for this article gathered from www.facebook.comwww.wikipedia.comwww.huffingtonpost.comwww.spotify.comwww.asitisofficial.comwww.altpress.comhttp://vanswarpedtour.com, and http://thiswildlifeband.com.

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