2012 Vans Warped Tour: A Review
It’s that time of year when the next wave of punk, rock and metal invade amphitheaters across the nation. Yes it’s the seventeen-year strong Vans Warped Tour, and it found its way to Atlanta’s Lakewood Amphitheatre on Thursday. While a weekend stop may have been more convenient, the teenage to early-twenty something crowd didn’t have any place more important to be on this afternoon. What an afternoon it was, weighed down by an oppressive heat that frequently peaked above 100 degrees. The small pockets of shade were engulfed with people. You couldn’t get water into your body fast enough as it would be pouring out of your forehead seconds later. It also influenced the attire since it seemed the person with the least amount of clothing on won.
The day got kicked off in earnest around noon, wasting absolutely no time digging into the music. Yellowcard took the first shift on the Kia Soul stage as people were still filtering into the park. The festival organizers packed every square inch of the Lakewood setup with eight stages, countless band & sponsor tents and even a skate ramp for those craving the half pipe. It was mass chaos, but in a good way. The 70+ bands playing the festival were dealt across the eight stages and the music was only quieted for long enough to get one band’s equipment push to the side and the next one’s in. Amazingly enough you heard little overlap from adjoining stages. The only explanation I can come up with is everyone was trying to out loud one other. That is the common thread that runs through all of these bands – energy, ADHD onstage and loudness.
Unlike other festivals, there were no real defined headliners at Warped Tour. The biggest names on the bill included more established acts like Taking Back Sunday and New Found Glory yet they got shuffled into the mix, playing midday sets right along with the bands still on the rise. It’s a very unique formula where no band is really bigger than any other one at Warped. Sure there are main stages that played host the bands with the biggest draw, but you never got the feeling that the bands toiling away on the side stages were the festival leftovers. Everybody was on equal footing.
Given the amount of music featured at Warped its damn near impossible to have seen all of the bands, much less to give a comprehensive look at what their set had to offer, but a few acts did stand out from the fold. Falling in Reverse were a very interesting group. Frontman Ronnie Radke came out in neon leopard print spandex pants with a biker jean jacket. The stage had a raised reverse catwalk that stretched across the front and Radke strutted and twirled his microphone to maximum effect. Not only did these guys bring the glamor and the flair, but they rock pretty hard. These guys are definitely going places quick.
Another highlight of the day was Breathe Carolina. Playing on the main amphitheater stage their audience was probably multiplied by a few times what it normally would have been as fans took the rare opportunity to find a seat and enjoy the shade. No matter. The electropop duo of David Schmitt and Kyle Even came out swinging, giving a highly spirited performance that got the audience to their feet.
In all, it was a good day to be a fan of music. The Warped Tour organizers couldn’t have packed any more bands into the aging Lakewood. It’s a testament to every one of these bands that they were willing to enter the boiling pot of Atlanta in July and still give it their all on stage. It was the perfect chance for people to see their favorite band while discovering their soon-to-be favorite. Heat aside, this was a great festival. It’s too bad it couldn’t make the rounds in October.