Van’s Warped Tour 2017 Delivers Once Again


Photos by David Rubene and Jessica Boldt

The day ended with me puking out the door of my friend’s car and falling asleep by 7:30PM on the floor of my living room right under the air conditioner. How did I get to that point? Two words– Warped Tour. It’s my favorite day of the year and also typically ends up being the worst night of the year. The exhausted and dehydration struggle was real yesterday, as it is every year, but it is always worth it when I wake up the next morning and realize all of the great bands I was able to see the day before.

Clearly, there are far too many bands for one person to catch absolutely every band and even with two photographers by my side, it was still impossible to catch even half of the bands playing. With seven stages and a schedule that isn’t announced until you walk in the doors, it’s impossible to get a game plan going prior to arriving. All you can do is head straight for the blow-up schedule in the center of the grounds and start planning while stressing out about how you’re already missing music. Having a “job” that allows me to go to nearly every single concert that hits the Twin Cities definitely makes my decisions easier. I pick one or two bands that I refuse to miss and leave the rest up to fate. I know that I will be catching majority of these bands in the upcoming months so why even stress. Even with that mind frame, I still found myself freaking out as my photographers and I tried to figure out a plan.

Having caught nearly 20 bands, me writing about each of them would be a bit too much for just one blog post but here were the highlights of my day:

Municipal Waste– “Rise and shine fuckers!” screamed singer Tony Foresta. Those were the first words I heard from a band and it couldn’t have been more perfect. Tony’s energy was a great way to kick off the day and their powerful brand of thrash metal was enough to get even the most hungover kid in the audience going. The band played through their quick set with fury and energy and had me super optimistic as to how my day was going to go. They teased a triumphant return back to the Twin Cities with a show at the Triple Rock and I can’t freaking wait.

Alestorm– Known for the pirate metal sound, Alestorm brought a little bit of fun to the early hours of Warped Tour. Although I was a little disappointed that they weren’t dressed as pirates or anything, there was no denying the pirate attitude that their music gave off. It was fun, upbeat, and made you want to dance a little jig while roasting in the sun. The banter on the stage was perfect and had the growing crowd laughing.

Anti-Flag– Easily one of the bands I anticipated the most on Warped Tour. Anti-Flag was the band that got me caring about politics and while watching them perform on Sunday, I was reminded of the importance of their message. Their music is extremely political and thankfully, their ideals are in line with me. With a mix of both old and new songs during their set, each song truly fit the current world which is almost sad in a way. Even with the powerful message and the sad realization that not much has been fixed politically since the band started in the 1990’s, their set was upbeat and had me inching closer and closer to the circle pit.

Sylar– Okay, so maybe I’m a bit biased about this band. They were the first guys that I ever had an official interview with and they are quickly becoming a staple in my daily playlist. I was more than happy to see that, even though this was their first Warped Tour and they are definitely still an up and coming act, there were a bunch of people who had carved out some time during their busy day to catch their set. Sylar took the stage with the same power and passion that had me falling in love with them the first time I saw them. Their music had a much more rap-rock vibe than other music during the day and that seemed to really get people talking. Also, let’s be real, it’s pretty cool to watch a band that you had a one on one conversation with absolutely kill it on stage.

American Authors– I actually caught these guys by mistake. I needed a little breather and they happened to be playing on the closest stage to where Jessica (a photographer I work with) and I were standing. I was instantly sold on these guys when the banjo came out on stage. I feel like this year’s Warped Tour really focused on heavier music so to hear a more indie-pop band and see colorful outfits on stage instead of the classic black shirts with black skinny jeans was super refreshing. This was one of those bands that I thought I had no clue who they were but as soon as they started playing “Best Day Of My Life” I realized I knew exactly who they were. They were probably one of the poppiest bands of the day but I loved every second of their set and it gave me a bit of a second wind.

CKY– CKY was one of the bands that I knew I just had to see. The last time I saw this band was while I was still a teenage and living in Des Moines, IA. Honestly, that was probably the last time I even listened to this band but as soon as I saw them on the Warped Tour line-up, I knew I couldn’t miss it. Their sound hasn’t really changed much over the years but you can tell the members are a bit older and have calmed down quite a bit. Even with a calmer demeanor about them than the last time I saw them, hearing them play some of their older songs was definitely a treat.

T.S.O.L– Yet another band that I knew I couldn’t miss. Formed in the late 1970’s, T.S.O.L is definitely a legendary group. Even with their age, their sound was exactly what I wanted it to be, it was nitty, gritty and not so pretty but it was perfect. Singer Jack Grisham had a pink suit on and explained that he wears a suit at every show and has other bands sign it. Then he auctions it off for a charity based in California that provides food for people. What a seriously great idea to come from such a humble band. It was definitely heart warming and, at a festival that promoted helping yourself and each other, it was perfect.

Sonic Boom Six– Ska music always gets in a good mood and Sonic Boom Six did that flawlessly. Hailing from Manchester, England, I had never heard of these guys before but their sound and energy had me running to their stage from a nearby stage just to see what was going on. Even though I say these guys are ska, they are so much more. There are elements of pop, punk, dubstep, and even grime that are mixed together to make an attention getting sound. The fact that this band has a sound that was enough to pull me away from a stage full of metalcore (the music I love) giants should be a huge clue that you need to give them a listen.

Stacked Like Pancakes– Yet another ska band that pulled me away from a metalcore band just by the upbeat rhythms coming from competing trombones. Even though they are a fairly new band (formed in 2007) and completely new to me, SLP had definitely pulled a crowd together for their mid-day set. Their music screamed classic ska by way of Reel Big Fish and Mighty Mighty Bosstones but they still had an edge that set them apart from the rest. Their banter on stage was genuine and had the giant crowd rolling in laughter while dancing along to their set. This was definitely a band that helped keep my energy levels up during the long, sweaty day.

Valient Thorr– Hailing from North Carolina, it’s easy to call this group a bit of a legendary band in the southern rock/ heavy metal scene. Their music was down and dirty which matched the sweaty and active crowd in front of their stage. Singer Valiant Himself seemed to egg on the crowd asking for all they could give and that’s exactly what the band got. The audience was thrilled to be seeing such an influential act and, although the crowd seemed to be the older demographic, there was no shortage of pushing, shoving, and moshing.

Barb Wire Dolls– I love the fact that Warped Tour seems to be adding more and more international bands every year. BWD hails from Greece although, judging by the size of their crowd, you could be easily fooled into thinking they were from the states. Their garage punk sound stood out from the rest and their “fuck ’em all” attitude was infectious. With an attitude to love and a sound that caught your attention, this group quickly became a favorite of the day for many people. Even if you didn’t plan on seeing these guys, chances are you were either drawn to their stage or you heard the chatter after it was said and done. 

Sick of it All– The year was 2003. The album was “Life on the Ropes”. I was only 14 years old when I discovered this band and heard that album but that album made me completely fall in love with hardcore music. Even though many years have passed and the band is now celebrating over 30 years of music, nothing has really changed. I loved the energy and conviction the group played with and it was exactly what you would want from a quintessential hardcore band. Their fierce and powerful set may have been short, but being able to even see a snippet of this band was truly a dream come true.

I could go on and on about all of the bands I saw. I saw Hawthorne Heights and chickened out on meeting the singer when I realized he had grey hair and it reminded me just how old I really am. The face that Jessica (my friend and phorographer) made when she saw two members of Gwar walking around was freaking priceless. So much happened yesterday. So many great bands, great moments, and good vibes that I just can’t put it all into words.

Sure, I didn’t make it to the end of the day. Puking out the car door and falling asleep by 7:30 isn’t something I’m completely proud of. Regardless, Warped Tour day will continue to be my favorite day of the year for years to come.

Will I see you there next year?