Photo Credit, Eric John
One of the longest running must festivals, Vans Warped Tour, celebrated the kick off of their 19th tour in downtown L.A. at Club Nokia. What a party it was! The night started off with a special press conference in the club’s 2nd floor VIP area. The swanky upstairs space was filled with music enthusiasts, photographers, reporters, and a slew of Warped Tour talent.
In attendance were were acts such as Chiodos, Gin Wingmore, Craig Owens, Charlotte Sometimes, Dia Frampton, Lost In Atlantis, New Beat Fund, MC Lars, Beware of Darkness, Juliet Simms and many, many more. Warped Tour founder and producer Kevin Lyman started the night off by addressing everyone and expressing his excitement and gratitude for another amazing line up of artists.
I had the chance to speak with Kevin Lyman about the success of the Warped Eco Initiative (an effort to reduce Warped Tour’s carbon footprint by way of solar powered stage, volunteer driven recycling programs, biodiesel fueling, and waste reduction programs) and the direction it was headed, here’s what he had to say. “I grew up in Clairemont California and I got into punk rock. I kinda realized that punk rock and hippies kinda have the same vibe. Its about change and trying to make something happen. You know, we can’t fix everything. Sometimes we take on all these problems and its overwhelming, but the little things we can do. Touring is going to leave a footprint. If we can reduce that footprint and anything we can do, at least it becomes something subconsciously. What we really leave behind is with the kids and the bands on tour. If we can get them to change a couple of their little habits here and there it will definitely start spreading out.”
After the free-for-all of a press conference (seriously, it was nuts!), the party continued on the main floor with oodles of live performance by the many talented acts. I discovered so much great new music that night, it was insane. These bands are definitely worth checking out and keeping on an eye because they’ve all definitely got some big things ahead!
The first group to rock the stage was a band called Echosmith (formerly known as Ready Set Go!). “Working on Warped Tour is just like family,” said lead singer Sydney, who tours with her actual family (the band is composed of all siblings). Next to follow was an acoustic set by Brian Marquee. Marquee is a Warped Tour veteran and you’ll be able to find him at the Acoustic Basement Tent at this year’s festival.
After Brian rocked the crowd with a cover of Radiohead’s “High and Dry,” a funky young band came on stage by the name of New Beat Fund. These guys were so fun! The band of four had the complete hipster attire in full force: skinny jeans, chuck taylors, and funky white-rimmed sunglasses. Perfection. The band comes complete with their own mascot, “Ghosty.” And yes, it’s exactly what you think, a grown man in a white bed sheet doing ghost-like things on stage with a beer can in hand. Their sound is reminiscent of early Red Hot Chili Pepper days or Sublime mixed with new wave electro pop like Chromeo or Hot Chip. Guaranteed a good time. Check these guys out.
Next up was Season 2 Contestant on The Voice, Charlotte Sometimes. This isn’t Charlotte’s first go with the Warped Tour fam, she was on board in 2008 and this is what she had to say about her previous experience. “I shared a bus with a metal band and it was like a gas chamber of farts, but I’m ready to do it all over again!” Sounds pretty painful. I spoke with Charlotte about what it’s like being one of the few girls on the tour. “We’re still girly,” she said wearing a form fitting red dress and five inch stilletos. “We’re total chicks. We can rock just as hard as the boys do except we have heels on and we’ll kick your ass.” There you have it folks.
Then came the one man show that is MC Lars. He came correct, clad in a Darth Vader jean jacket hoodie and a massive gold chain around his neck, complete with an original golden Zelda Nintendo video game. He made sure to let the crowd know that he was there to “represent the nerds,” and did he ever! His “laptop-rap” had everyone reminiscing of their favorite back in the day video games (Tetris & Mario Bros. of course!), hipster girls, and oddly enough the infamous poet, Edgar Allen Poe. All of whom have a song written about them by MC Lars.
Afterwards, another former contestant on The Voice took the stage. Juliet Simms performed an acoustic set that left the crowd with goosebumps. This young lady is no newcomer to the Vans Warped Tour, in fact she’s a veteran. Her stage presence and voice is reminiscent of Janis Joplin meets Stevie Nicks. Her retro sound is very apparent and plays well with her boho chic style, especially when she belts out covers of “Roxanne” by The Police and “A Man’s World” by James Brown. Don’t miss this chick live or you’ll be sorry.
Next to take the stage was Big Chocolate also know as Cameron Argon. This guy rocks a sick ginger mustache that coordinates well with his killer dance moves. This California native knows how to get the party started. His DJ style is similar to that of Girl Talk, creating funky mash ups and yet keeping things fresh with an electro hip-hop/dubstep sound. This is serious dance party music so wear you dancing shoes kids. Dia Frampton, another Warped Tour Alum and former contestant on The Voice, followed Big Chocolate and calmed the crowd with her soft voice and country/folk sound. She frolicked on stage in a babydoll dress and bare feet as she crooned out songs about love and laughter. If you like Jewel, check out Dia Frampton.
The next act to take the stage was like nothing I’d ever seen. The New Zealand act, Gin Wigmore, consists of five male musicians led by a pint-sized, blond beauty of a lead singer. Virginia “Gin” Claire Wigmore is tiny is size but the sound that comes out of her mouth is anything but. This woman can belt out a song like you wouldn’t believe. Think Carrie Underwood meets Duffy with The Black Keys and any 80’s hair band of your choice backing her up. This music is insanely good.
The ladies in the house went absolutely WILD when Craig Owens came on stage next. The group of three scrambled last minute to put a great set together when they found out that their guitarist had an emergency hospital visit and was no longer able to be a part of the performance. The guys pulled off swoon worthy acoustic set and left all the ladies wanting more.
Last but not least, the Michigan natives that make up the band Chiodos took the stage. I didn’t actually get to see this show, but I did meet some fans of theirs before the night began. They said they were coming just to see these guys. The post hardcore band closed what was an unforgettable night of amazing music.
In the past Warped Tour had caught some flack for supposedly not having enough female artist on the tour. That is most certainly not the case this year. With some many female rockers and such an eclectic group of artists covering all genres from heavy metal to folk and everything in between, concert goers are sure to find something that tickles their fancy. These acts and many, many more will all be taking the stage and rockin’ the mic at this year’s Vans Warped Tour. Check out the full lineup, tour dates, and get your tickets atVansWarpedTour.com
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