Warped Tour 2017, Tinley Park, IL…A Review

Last week I had the privilege of attending the Vans Warped Tour just outside of Chicago.  A lot has changed since the last time I attended the traveling musical music festival back in 1998.  What was once ruled by pop-punk and ska bands has been “warped” into a haven of melodic hardcore bands with a smattering of just about everything else.  Although screamo is not my thang, there were a few bands that made me eager to make the 4 hour drive.  It is impossible to see every band at Warped Tour because of the rotating stage setup, so I can only review the bands that I personally saw.  Also, since ska was not very well represented this year, this review will include other genres as well.  Well here goes…

 

  1. Save Ferris (full set) – Monique Powell and crew was one of the main reasons for wanting to go to Warped Tour this year. Although radically different from each other, I love both of their full length albums and was eager to see them live once again.  While it was great to hear new tunes from the band along with some old favorites, this was a bit of a let- down for me.  Monique still has some powerful pipes, however they were marred, probably from a 20+ year Camel Light habit.  The vocals were raspy and even slurred at times, that of a bar hag that closes out the local saloon.  Overall, it was a pretty decent set, with the band being livelier than ever, it just did not hold up to my expectations.  Grade: B-

 

  1. New Year’s Day (partial set)- I don’t listen to a lot of metal, but after listening to a few of their tunes on Spotify, I thought I’d give this band a try. Most of the band members were covered in some sort of face/neck makeup as if they missed the memo that they were not in fact playing at a Hot Topic.  Ash Costello rocked her signature half black, half red hairstyle as she belted out lyrics with the best of them.  Although ska is still my thing, and I am still not a self-proclaimed metal head, this band is great.  Combining straight up metal with a slight pop element (similar to Papa Roach) with powerfully intoxicating female vocals made for an enjoyable set.  I wish I could have seen the entire show, however, we did leave a little early to catch the next band on our list.  Grade: A-

 

  1. Stacked Like Pancakes(full set)- The other reason for attending Warped Tour this year.  After falling in love with their album and also trying to take in every ska band on the list, SLP was a must see.  Their ‘This Is Us’ album is fantastic, however, it seems to be heavily produced at times and I always wondered if they could pull of their songs live.  Boy did they ever!  Whether playing cover tunes or their own ditties, Stacked Like Pancakes came through with their almost perfect set with both precision and bombastic flare.  Kellen even nailed the rap parts in “Laughing at Me.”  This band has definitely honed their craft.  Move over Reel Big Fish, because Stacked Like Pancakes are the new kings of ska punk!  Grade: A

 

  1. Sonic Boom Six(partial set)- To be frankly honest, I never really got into this band.  Because much of their music is influenced by ska (no horn section) I felt obligated to check them out.   A lead singer has to either have a classically good voice, or at least a voice that is interesting for me to appreciate the band as a whole.  I am sorry to say that in this case it was neither.  I found the vocals to be annoying and difficult to understand what she was singling most of the time.  This was hugely distracting and took away from the band as a whole, as the instrumentation was pretty solid.  This was probably the biggest disappointment of the day for me.  Grade: D

 

  1. Jule Vera (partial set)- Amongst the hardcore screaming bands, Jule Vera was the proverbial sore thumb of Warped Tour. Playing a very pop-heavy version of rock, this band was a breath of fresh air when crunchy guitars and guttural vocals could be heard in the distant.  Switching between traditional drums and  electronic drum pad, Jule Vera’s sound was the likes of something you’d hear on top 40’s radio.  I say this not to criticize but to only categorize.  The biggest stand out for this band was the lead vocalist.  Sweet, but powerful vocals came out of this seemingly 12 year old girl ( I think she is closer to 20 IRL).  Jule Vera was one of the biggest surprises of the day for me.  The only reason we left earlier was to check out another band on the list.  Grade: A

 

  1. Alestorm-(full set)- I can honestly say that Alestorm was the first pirate metal band I had ever seen/heard.  I don’t normally like bands with gimmicks, but these guys are the real deal.  The fact that their music has a “theme” does not take away from the excellent musicianship and often witty song writing.  The lead singer sounds just like you’d expect from a band like this, raspy and a little wacky.  Featuring not only an organ but also a keytar, Alestorm put on a fantastic set.  Check these dudes out if you get the chance.  Grade: A

 

  1. Bad Cop/Bad Cop (full set)- We had not seen any punk bands yet, so it was time to check out Bad Cop/Bad Cop. This all female group was full of sass, but yet looked nice enough to be your mom.  Playing straight up punk with a dash of pop, this group of ladies sure could tear up the stage.   One of the gals had a better voice (I think it was Jennie) and wished she would have sung the lead on more of the songs, but overall this was a fun show.  Classic punk riffs with great vocal harmonies; what’s not to like?  Grade: B

 

  1. American Authors(full set)- This is a band that I have not followed, but was curios to check out because they were on of the more ‘famous’ bands at the venue. Playing a more radio-friendly version of rock than most of the bands at Warped Tour, this band had the stuff.  There is a reason why these guys have “made it” so to speak, from the pleasant vocals to the instrumentation with mass appeal.  The highlight was when the horn section from Save Ferris backed up the guys during their big hit “Best Day of My Life”  Grade: A

 

  1. Anti-Flag(partial set)- I’m not a big Anti-flag fan, but because there were no other bands that we wanted to see at that time slot, thought we would give them a listen. If brash punk rock it your thing, than you would have enjoyed this show.  Although it was kind of what I expected, I was hoping for something more.  It wasn’t horrible, yet I did not become an Anti-Flag convert after this show either.  Besides, the incited circle pit was too much for this old dude to handle, so we made our exit.  Grade: C

 

GWAR(full set)-  GWAR seems like an odd choice for the Warped Tour, but so does a rapper with a mullet(Feeki).  Seeing GWAR was never on my bucket list, but because we were already there, we could not pass up the opportunity.  After all, GWAR is the stuff of legend.  I do not like the growling type of metal the GWAR plays, however, seeing the elaborate costumes and over the top stage show was worth the watch.  Although I was not close enough to the stage to get doused in blood or any other strange liquids, it was still a site to behold.  Grade:C+

So what did you think? Share it my friend!

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