July 30, 2018 Final Vans Warped Tour Comes To Scranton, PA 7-26-18
The Vans Warped Tour is an institution, in its twenty-third year – which will sadly be its last, cross-country run – that has touched countless lives, and brought music – new and old favorites – closer to the hearts of many fans. Musicians applaud it, fans love it, and there is literally only one Warped Tour! Punk Rock summer camp if ever there was one, each year the tour travels the United States from late June to early August, West Coast to East Coast, bringing all things Rock and beyond to an outdoor venue near you – if you are lucky. On Thursday (Geoff Rickly Day, if you will), July 26, 2018, the Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton, Pennsylvania received her final, bittersweet dose of Warped!
Blessed are those that have lived and loved at Warped Tour! Continuing in her reign as the longest-running music festival in North America, the Vans Warped Tour’s celebratory and triumphant final edition brought some 50+ bands to Pennsyltucky on a beautifully sunny afternoon. With multiple stages spread across the grounds of the picturesque Montage Mountain, there was plenty of chaos for the tasting. From merch tent to charity organization, Warped Tour is an extravaganza that would require an entire week to fully witness; attendees had under ten hours, from 11 AM to 8 PM, to get their appetites whet and say their farewells to a tour that is truly like no other.
On this particular afternoon, the sun finally came out to clear up a waterlogged Pennsy, who didn’t much care about the weather but rather the music. Fans were able to imbibe a veritable plethora of artists, ranging from hometown heroes Motionless In White to God’s favorite boy band, Waterparks. Here is just a small taste of what went on that day . . .
No strangers to Warped Tour and one of the proud veterans of the tour, Senses Fail were the first band to take the Monster Energy White Lightning stage in the 11:30 AM time slot. With an impressive career spanning nearly sixteen years, Senses Fail – who initially began in New Jersey in 2002 – are a band who have lived. With an outstanding catalogue – ranging from 2004’s breakout debut Let It Enfold You to 2018’s If There Is Light, It Will Find You – despite some stumbles along the way, the band have never once paused to stop evolving and traveling new musical avenues, always staying true to outspoken Frontman Buddy Nielsen’s vision.
Now, let’s be honest, not many can pull off the Ducktales look that Nielsen was rocking while still being taken seriously, but he is one performer who demands your respect and attention, regardless of fashion choices. Taking to the stage with a fury, the band launched into two of their most-beloved, old-school favorites “Rum is for Drinking, Not for Burning” and “You’re Cute When You Scream.”
Fortunately for one crowd-surfer, Nielsen can not only put on a kickass show, but also has a keen eye for his fans: when security was remiss in their jobs, Nielsen flew like Superman from the stage mid-set, helped to save a poor fan from kissing pavement, and then returned to the microphone to lambaste security for their disregarding lack of attention to detail. Needless to say, much in thanks to Nielsen, the quality of their workmanship vastly improved from there on out. Having literally saved the day, Buddy returned to the stage to quip that, no, they were not Motionless In White – who would take the stage hours later – but that Senses Fail can claim the title of being Chris Motionless’ favorite band on the tour. (Not sure that’s exactly true, Buddy, but points for your killer sense of humor!)
The bulk of the band’s set was composed of old-school favorites like the two openers, along with “Calling All Cars” and “Can’t Be Saved,” off 2006’s Still Searching, and “Buried A Lie” and “Bite To Break Skin” off 2004’s Let It Enfold You. “Elevator to the Gallows” was the sole representation of their latest, If There Is Light, It Will Find You. Fans got a treat mid-set, however, when the boys broke out a medley of covers that contained bits and pieces of System of a Down’s “Chop Suey,” Drowning Pool’s “Bodies,” Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff,” and Rage and the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade.” Whatever the setlist or the situation, Senses Fail never disappoint!
The first band of the day up at the Journeys Left Foot stage, occupying the 11:45 AM time slot, was God’s favorite boy band, Waterparks. The Texas-based trio formed in 2011, and have enjoyed quite the successful career since, becoming media darlings thanks to 2016’s Double Dare and 2018’s Entertainment. Of course, connections to My Chemical Romance and Good Charlotte never hurt their cause, either! Fiercely-beloved by their fanbase, Waterparks – Vocalist/Guitarist Awsten Knight (he of the purple hair), Guitarist Geoff Wigington, and Drummer Otto Wood – amassed an impressive crowd for themselves, despite the early hour of their set.
The boys’ seven-song performance was chock full of bubbly-fun Pop Rock with a slight Punk edge. With their set composed of tracks like catchy sing-along opener “Blonde” and head-bopping follow-up “Crave,” the band did not disappoint their crowd, who ate it up at every turn. While their debut disc was fairly represented by “Take Her to the Moon” and “Stupid For You,” the boys slanted their set toward their newest material with tracks such as “Not Warriors,” “Lucky People,” and “Rare.” Working the stage, appealing to their audience with energetic, catchy rockers, Waterparks did Texas proud!
The first band to take the Monster Energy Red Dawn stage – which could very easily be renamed the 420 stage, if you catch our drift – Deez Nuts occupied the 12 Noon time slot and issued in an afternoon of fun. This Aussie Hardcore outfit formed in 2007 and have gone on to release five full-lengths, ranging from 2008’s Stay True to 2017’s Binge & Purgatory. Searching for converts but ready to party with anyone, the quartet – Vocalist JJ Peters, Guitarist Matt Rogers, Bassist Sean Kennedy, and Drummer Alex Salinger – brought the heavy right out of the gates with the blistering “What’s Good” and equally rocking, anthemic “Stay True.” The remainder of their set was a blend of vicious and pummeling, with fans going hardcore for tracks such as “Carried by Six” and the hysterically-named “Your Mother Should Have Swallowed You.” Engaging and fully entertaining, Deez Nuts are a must see this summer!
Another 420, err, Red Dawn band, Chelsea Grin kicked off the 1 PM time slot with a deliciously incendiary set. Hailing from Utah, this Deathcore outfit know a little something about torture techniques (well, they are named after one!) and originally formed in 2007. Extensive line-up changes and five full-length studio albums have followed over the past eleven years, ranging from 2010’s full-length debut, Desolation of Eden, to the brand spanking new Eternal Nightmare.
Taking the stage without a moment’s hesitation, Chelsea Grin – Vocalist Tom Barber, Guitarist Stephen Rutishauser, Bassist David Flinn, and Drummer Pablo Viveros – assaulted the senses with “Dead Roses” and “Playing With Fire.” Their seven-song set was tight, impressive, and unleashed hell with the likes of old-school favorite “My Damnation,” newer track “Hostage,” and fan favorite “Skin Deep.” There was a slight pause for breath, some talk of Eternal Nightmare, and then the boys rounded out the pummeling with “See You Soon” and “Recreant.”
Ice Nine Kills
If you’re big on a band who work the barricade and love their audience to bloody death, then the 4 PM slot at the Red Dawn stage was all for you. Massachusetts’ theatrically-inclined Ice Nine Kills blend Metal and some things ‘Core to craft a sound that is heavily-steeped in all things Horror, be it their cinema-inspired stage garb, dramatic, visually arresting videos, or even their love of macabre literature. With full-length albums ranging from 2006’s Last Chance to Make Amends to 2015’s Every Trick in the Book, the Spencer Charnas led quintet come to Warped with plenty of ammo for one killer (pun intended) performance.
Taking the stage to The Chordettes’ classic “Mr. Sandman,” Ice Nine Kills wasted no time in launching themselves into a trio of fan favorites that included “Communion of the Cursed,” “Bloodbath & Beyond,” and “Hell in the Hallways.” Highly-interactive, Frontman Krueger, err, Charnas took the time to engage his audience, and even went for a stroll across the top of the crowd. Informing fans that the band’s latest album is set to drop in early October, Charnas and the boys tossed celebratory beach balls to the crowd and presented them with a taste of what’s to come in the form of A Nightmare on Elm Street inspired “The American Nightmare” and Friday the 13th, slasher happy “Thank God It’s Friday.”
Closing out their set with more energetic chaos, Ice Nine Kills gave the fans a beloved favorite in “Me, Myself & Hyde,” before bidding the crowd adieu, that is, until October 5, 2018. Their brand spanking new album, the Horror movie-themed The Silver Scream, hits home screens (or ears) as of this date, so be on the look out for more greatness from this amazing band!
The Amity Affliction
Some bands have dedicated followings that would walk through fire to support their cause, and The Amity Affliction definitely falls under this category. Formed in 2003, the band hails from Down Unda, but that didn’t stop them from being highly-beloved in Pennsylvania. Likely this is much in thanks to their five killer albums, ranging from 2008’s Severed Ties to 2016’s This Could Be Heartbreak. Lucky for fans, the quartet’s newest release, Misery, arrives in late August!
Hopping like kangaroos right into their killer set (but not literally), the band came to the stage with the infectious “I Bring the Weather With Me,” bringing the crowd to the tips of their toes for a full-blown sing-along. Next, they kept the momentum going with the melodic choruses of “Open Letter” and the infectiously, ironically upbeat “This Could Be Heartbreak.” It would definitely be hard to pinpoint one fan favorite, as the crowd loved every second of the set, from “All Fucked Up” to brand new track “Ivy (Doomsday)” to “Don’t Lean On Me.” However, as with most any of the band’s live sets, the beloved “Pittsburgh” capped off their inspiring performance with the perfect sprinkling of all that is The Amity Affliction.
MyChildren MyBride came to the Red Dawn stage at the ripe hour of 6 PM, exciting their crowd of Metalheads. Formed in Alabama in 2004, over the past nearly decade and a half, the band have released four full-length offerings, ranging from 2008’s Unbreakable to 2017’s Vicious World. A band that takes chances and puts on a killer, headbanging set, MyChildren MyBride did not disappoint!
Blasting onto the stage with banger “Headshot!” and then rolling into the equally rocking “On Wings of Integrity Part II” and the phenomenal “Xeno,” the band were firing on all cylinders, heads banging, hair flailing. Fan favorite “God of Nothing” was met with approval before the band went back nearly a decade for “Terra Firma,” and then broke out the bass-heavy thump of “Thorns.” They ended with Vocalist Matthew Hasting urging fans to head over to the White Lightning stage to catch Motionless In White’s set, and a special shout-out to that band’s vocalist was given before MyChildren MyBride tackled another fan favorite, “On Wings Of Integrity.”
Motionless In White
What does one say about hometown heroes Motionless In White? There are few, true Vans Warped Tour success stories quite like that of Scranton, Pennsylvania’s own Motionless In White. Initially playing the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands stage in 2005 before they were even signed, the band has gone on to release four exceptional albums, from 2010’s Creatures to 2017’s Graveyard Shift, and show absolutely no signs of stopping.
Scranton’s finest gentlemen occupied the 6:30 PM time slot at the White Lightning stage and, whew, did they amass an audience! Fans were representing their band with keystone-shaped MIW signs, welcoming Motionless In White – Vocalist Chris Motionless, Guitarists Ryan Sitkowski and Ricky Horror, Drummer Vinny Mauro, and current fill-in Bassist, Escape the Fate’s TJ Bell (who is ironically an old-school member of MIW) – to their triumphant homecoming performance.
As with all Warped sets, Motionless’ six-song set flew by, but perfectly presented old and new fans with a smattering of the band’s finest. They took the stage full-throttle with the anthemic “Devil’s Night” and catchy sing-along “Reincarnate,” making it abundantly clear how it is that this band has successfully conquered Warped Tour over and over again, playing the tour a total of nine years throughout their thirteen-year career.
Mid-set, Vocalist Chris paused the action to pay tribute to the man behind-the-tour, Mr. Kevin Lyman, thanking him for supporting the band throughout the years, and repeatedly giving them a home to showcase their exceptional talents. Lyman came out onstage to share a moment with the band and pose for a photo-op before the boys presented two old-school favorites, “Ghost in the Mirror” and “Abigail” – where they were joined by Ice Nine Kills’ Spencer Charnas for a killer duet. With the feels running heavy throughout the crowd and on-stage, Chris paid tribute to the band’s career and Warped Tour once again before MIW went full-throttle on the set closer, “570.” If you haven’t yet seen this band live, what is wrong with you?
Admittedly, it is sad to see Warped Tour go, at least, the Warped Tour that we have all come to know and love, though, one cannot say enough good things about the past twenty-three years and Mr. Kevin Lyman, the man himself. Here’s to the careers made and to the memories, and whatever is next for this phenomenal summer experience!