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Warped Thoughts 2013
Thursday, July 25, 2013

After attending numerous Warped Tours, once attending multiples dates in the same year, I have learned summing up such an event is basically impossible. Not only can one person not see and do everything, one person cannot see and do even one tenth of everything. That being said, this year’s festivities definitely had some highlights for me. I am by no means saying these are the only great things going on at this year’s Warped Tour, they are simply my favorite moments from what I saw and experienced.

Here’s what I dug most this year.

The maturation of Tonight Alive

I saw Tonight Alive at Warped Tour last year, discovering them for the first time when they were doing an acoustic set before their actual set. It didn’t take more than a few songs for me to become a fan. I have a thing for rock bands with great female lead singers, and Tonight Alive, with Jenna McDougall front and center, certainly fits the bill. I picked up their albums, and although I didn’t feel they were necessarily an Australian version of Paramore, I could understand why that criticism of them was floating around. At the time, any group performing rock/pop punk that featured a young, spunky, frontwoman singing about relationships was going to draw such a comparison. During this year’s Warped Tour, however, Tonight Alive seems to have really come into their own.

While the band was great last year, they were even better this year, and they’ve done a lot to shed the Paramore comparison. The rock aspects of the group have eclipsed the pop punk aspects, and with her attitude, and strength, McDougall is now following the archetype of Pat Benatar much more than that of Hayley Williams. She even flexes one of her biceps during the band’s set, and ask the audience to flex with her. When you mix that toughness with McDougall’s blonde hair, and the way she carries herself, it’s almost as if she’s become the impossible love child of Benatar and Debbie Harry. This is very good for Tonight Alive, as they continue to be a band I look forward to hearing for years to come.

Getting drunk off of Gin Wigmore

When I first saw Gin Wigmore’s name on this year’s Warped Tour lineup I was really excited. Most of us recognize her voice, even if we don’t necessarily associate that voice with a name, thanks to her work being featured in commercials for Heineken and Lowes. It’s an old school voice filled with soul and attitude, like Amy Winehouse, mixed with Duffy, sans any kind of drug addiction (at least, as far as I know).

As she began her set I noted to one of my peers that I felt the crowd was a little small for Gin, and she deserved far more people checking out her music. At the time there were only a few dozen people hanging out by her stage. By the end of her set, however, there were probably a couple hundred people in the crowd, as everyone who thought they were just going to walk by were drawn in by Wigmore and her incredible band.

Wigmore pretty much has it all; great pipes, a unique voice, fantastic songwriting, a big personality that she’s not afraid to show, and a kick ass band that compliments her perfectly. How much did I enjoy her set? One of Wigmore’s street teamers came by with a box of CDs and I bought an album on the spot. It’s an early favorite to be in my year end top ten.

The fiery Itch you’ll want to embrace

I interviewed British emcee Itch a few days before seeing him at Warped Tour, so I already knew he was a smart, engaging, individual. I was also familiar with his music (since, you know, I actually do research before my interviews), so I thought I had some idea of what to expect from his set. To put it bluntly, I expected to be wowed. Itch is a high energy emcee who thrives on emotion. He also, however, is dealing with a broken leg, an injury that happened as a result of that energy and emotion at a previous show.

Arriving in a black and gold wheelchair, Itch was limited on stage, but his physical limitations only worked to increase the amount of passion he put into his delivery. It was almost like when you hear about people losing one of their five senses and then having all their other senses heightened. Itch couldn’t move around, so he was going to make his lyrics do the moving for him, and boy did they move.

Not only was Itch incredible, the singer he was working with managed to do the vocal parts of both Adam Lazzara of Taking Back Sunday, and Dani Artaud, which is quite the wide range to encompass.

This was a set I didn’t want to see end. It even included an appearance by my friend Duece Bug, whom Itch brought on stage during a giant group cypher. Simply incredible.

Stress for some during The Summer Set’s performance

The Summer Set is a band I made a point to check out this year. Not only had I interviewed them for a cover story for Substream, I really like their new album, Legendary. Despite having the strangest weather of any set this year, going from heat, to a two minute spurt of rain that caused security to cover every monitor with black garbage bags, to going to extreme heat, the band didn’t miss a beat.

My favorite part of the set was something not everyone caught. At one point lead singer Brian Dales climbed up on top of the drums and was standing high for everyone to see. He was doing this while singing. The crowd was focused on Dales, as they should have been. I, however, have a wandering eye, and that wandering eye noticed two stagehands attempting to stay out of people’s sight lines, while clinging to the drum kit for dear life, making sure it stayed up while Dales was on top of it.

Like a great fielding play, or an at-bat the moves a runner into scoring position, it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t show up in the box score, but it was pretty damned important none the less. Plus, I took a pretty amazing picture of the whole thing.

Discovering The Cleopatra Complex

Here’s a little secret about how I prepare for Warped Tour. I put all the bands into one of four categories: 1) must see, 2) would like to see, 3) will see if they don’t conflict with anyone I’m interested in, 4) will pass on. When I walked into Warped Tour I had The Cleopatra Complex on my “would like to see” list, so when I saw their set time coming up, and had nothing else to do, I wandered over to their stage. Very quickly I, and everyone else, was hooked, and when I say “everyone else,” there was even a member of the security team rockin out. In fact, he was enjoying it so much so that the band gave him a free EP.

An apt description of The Cleopatra Complex’s sound is Veruca Salt with a dash of electronic music thrown in. It’s raucous, it’s fun, and it makes you want to act just like the aforementioned security guy and rock out (I later found out that said security guy used to attend Warped Tour ten years ago as a kid, so he was one of the folks really enjoying his gig on this particular day).

Another highlight from The Cleopatra Complex’s set was the giant beach ball being brought out and enjoyed by the crowd. Of course, I ended up getting hit in the head with it, and then accidentally hit someone in the face with it, but the most impressive trip it took was onto the roof of the stage, where eventually a breeze brought it back down into the crowd.

Oh, and one final note on this year’s Warped Tour; to the girl who had “touch my titties” written on her breasts, I’m sorry, but I’m absolutely sure that would have been a felony.

For 51 pics from this year’s Warped Tour (sorry, none are of the aforementioned breasts), check out my Photo Album of Warped Tour 2013.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM  
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