Warped Tour 2014 @ Utah State Fairgrounds 08.02
I’ll get to get to the point right away for my review of the 2014 Warped Tour so you get the idea of what you will be reading. If it wasn’t for my 15-year-old daughter, Lindon (skip to page 6 for Lindon’s review) and her extreme desire to see the tour and a fair amount of the bands playing, I wouldn’t have even bothered going. Suffice it to say, during battles of the day muddling through the heat, crowds and noise, I found some great times at the show and most of those great times were equally shared between myself and the kiddo. Though, with a pretty obvious bias toward the bands on the tour from myself, when I talked to Teenage Bottlerocket frontman Ray Carlisle, I got the best outlook on the tour for a person not fully interested in 99 percent of the bands playing.
“With every band at Warped Tour that I’ve taken the time to watch there’s one thing about that band that I really like,” says Carlisle. “It’s like, ‘I don’t really like this band,’ but they’re drummer kills it or their bass player is so great. Right down to Motionless in White, their bass player looks terrifying. There’s always something that I find that I really enjoy. I think it’s cool to come to Warped Tour if you are a jaded person, like some of us older people who come. It’s great to come to the tour with an open mind—you can find new music and you can find good in a lot of things. But if you want to come out here and think, ‘I hate all this stuff, fuck these bands,’ you’ll leave with that same feeling.”
To tell this story in the shortest way possible—when I was 15 I had the opportunity to go see Metallica. It would be the first real concert of my life. That opportunity came with a catch. I could go for free as long as I wrote a short blurb about what it was like to go see my favorite band at the time with my Dad—the real “journalist,” a longtime Salt Lake Tribune reporter. In the end, the opportunity and my words shared with my father won a critical review award and I scored a free concert ticket and one hundred bucks. It was my first adventure in journalism, one that has resulted in a massive amount of amazing opportunities including writing for the Salt Lake Tribune myself at 18 and then roughly six years later starting with SLUG Mag, where my time is approaching 10 years of writing adventures. Fast-forward 18 years later with my own daughter and our shared experience here for your reading pleasure. I don’t think my daughter has much intention to enter the journalism world, but getting the opportunity to hit the tour with her Pops and get in the photo pit for her was her big score of the summer.
My daughter and I did our pre-show research quite thoroughly. We plowed through what seemed like hundreds of bands playing by way of listening/viewing on YouTube. I’m pretty sure the number of bands was actually right around the one hundred mark, give or take a few numbers. My daughter already knew of a handful of bands she wanted to see, so we listened to at least one song from every other artist on the tour and made a list: To See – Maybe – and To Miss. Once we were prepared on the band front, my daughter found an application download for her phone that aside from a timed countdown to the tour, gave little tidbits of knowledge, like if you brought canned food or a used cell phone to the show you could get a wrist band to bypass the entrance line.
When we thought we were prepped, we stuffed a backpack with the allowed sealed bottles of water, snacks, sunscreen a blanket, extra clothes and our band list. We arrived just as a huge line formed, but found our guest-list tent to get our press credentials quickly and got into the fairgrounds just before the music started to play. We knew to hit the press area and get our names on any interview lists. We dropped on three bands lists and wound up with only one interview to actually happen.
Despite the coming complaints, the bands stage times were spot on the deadline. The tour and local staff ruled—they were amazingly helpful and had the tour running smooth the entire time. What we weren’t prepared for was the fact that to squeeze in all the bands, some we wanted to see would crossover in timing. Also, the fact that besides the giant blowup sign that listed what band was playing and when, if you wanted one to hold in your hand and be able to refer to, you had to spend two bucks to buy one, which wasn’t really a problem, only we had to wait an hour or two to get one because when we first went to purchase a schedule they were all sold out. Our list was made mostly irrelevant because of the set times crossing over and just the sheer number of bands playing and the timing of everything as well as from one side of the grounds to the other it could take up over five minutes just to make it to the other side of the grounds.
Initially we couldn’t find a “To See” band on our list playing so we found a “Maybe,” which was Parkway Drive, metalcore/hardcore type band. I had my daughter jump on in the photo pit and let things unfold. She shot some pictures and from what I assumed felt a bit uncomfortable in the area so I jumped up and shot some photos as well, all while the band screamed and crunched its way into mediocrity for both of our listening tastes. The gathering crowds seemed to be pumped and a good chunk of folks that had already staked their claim in front seemed to know the lyrics.
Already sweating and extremely hot my daughter and I found the watering hole area where a slip n’ slide was being set-up. We got cooled off and headed over to see The Ready Set, another “Maybe” band. We watched the majority of the bands show of some slightly amusing pop punk, more pop than punk conglomeration. We watched the band play out their set mostly because one of our “To See” bands was playing the stage right next to where The Ready Set were playing. Once the set ended, the next band started playing and it was Beebs and her Money Makers, one of the only real Ska bands on the tour, at least that I knew of. In our research the band looked like it could be fun to watch. The checkerboard pants wearing brass and guitar players joined who I’m assuming is Beebs. I don’t know much about the origins or history of the band. I was hopeful for a fun ska romp—yes I have listened to and enjoyed Ska in the past, I still dig the Slackers. In any regard the band’s stage presence and performance seemed to lack the actual energy of the music. We watched a couple songs and both decided to move on.
Up next was Laramie, Wyoming’s Teenage Bottlerocket, a band previously mentioned because I secured an interview with Ray Carlisle. I actually knew a bit about the band prior to the tour. I knew they were one of the few as I would call “real punk” bands on the tour, well, them and Less than Jake. After a few bands of musical mediocrity for both myself and my daughter, the day got a huge burst of energy for us and the really good times—those things that make memories—were about to begin. I actually talked to Carlisle after the band’s set. My daughter was supposed to join me, but an artist she really wanted to see was performing during the interview time. In any regard, before talking about those memory moments. Here’s a string of part of the conversation I had with Ray.
SLUG: What do you think is the appeal to all of the folks coming here to see the stuff that’s not in your realm?
Carlisle: Like Falling in Reverse?
SLUG: Yeah or the deathcore, metalcore bands etc.
Carlisle: You get screamed at a lot around Warped Tour. I hate to be that person that says, “the kids these days” because then you’re just that grumpy old dick.
SLUG: That’s kind of what I’ve felt like today.
We got to the stage where Teenage Bottlerocket was playing a bit early, and actually caught the tail end of a band I had put on the “To See” list, called Plague Vendor. The band has kind of an old school punk (Dead Kennedy’s) vibe mixed with Iggy Pop to them. Despite a small crowd, the singer was in seizure/sing mode. The last song the singer busted out a can of PBR, and from what I understand the Warped Tour (at least in Utah) is always dry, so, craving that cold brew stuff, I jumped in the front in hopes to get some beer thrown on me, instead the singer took a nice mouthful and spit it out onto the front. Walking away wiping the spit beer from my face, my daughter laughed and mentioned how sad I looked at the fact that I got beer spit on my face.
Funny thing is there was supposed to be a small change over in time from Plague Vendor’s set to Teenage Bottlerocket but a few minutes passed Teenage Bottlerocket were ready to play. We got some great jokes from Carlisle’s 7-year-old son, who joined his dad on stage just to give the fans some comedy. He actually had some great jokes and it warmed up what was to be an eventful set from the Laramie punk rockers. In all seriousness, get past all the bro-metal, growly chugga-chugga bands (which thankfully my daughter doesn’t like), the speed and energy of Teenage Bottlerocket beats down the “core” guys to a bloody pulp. Before the band started their set, Carlisle told the crowd they’d be back to play in a few minutes and when they got on stage to have the fans scream and go crazy like they were going to see Metallica. He also mentioned that the particular stage they were playing on was sponsored by a car brand and told the crowd to flip the band the bird as much as possible because one lucky audience member would win a car, (a joke), but it did lead to lots of bird flipping, and the small but rowdy crowd did go nuts when the band hit the stage to play. Teenage Bottlerocket started their set with the song “Headbanger,” that I am quite familiar with. It was hard not to want to completely rock out up in the photo pit, but I got the job done and went back out into the crowd to join my daughter to rock out some more. The band got a good circle pit going for most of their set. I decided to let my daughter see her old Dad in the mosh action and jumped in the pit. My daughter told me I had a massively goofy look on my face because the pit was dust filled and I had clenched my lips so I would be inhaling the dust. She got a pretty good kick out of seeing me run around in the frolicking pit.
Next up on our itinerary of bands we wanted to see was Of Mice & Men. We thought we had the right stage, but found out two stages were similarly named. We sat at the stage we thought was correct but then the backdrop came down and discovered it was the goth/metal/hardcore whatever band Motionless in White, we bounced over and found the right stage, which happened to be the one geared for the larger crowds, so large that photo pit access was denied for the sake of letting the security staff do their jobs and not have the pesky journalists running into them. We watched about two songs of what was horrible metalcore whatever, just chugging and screaming where my daughter said she had seen enough and we could skedaddle, so as not to miss one of the artists on the tour she really wanted to see.
We wound up getting to the stage to see female hip-hop artist K. Flay, whom my daughter had been anxiously awaiting, to be greeted by sounds from a DJ, I don’t recall his name, but I do think he was the DJ man for nu-metal revivalists Issues. In any right we got soaked again, did the bathroom, water bottle refill thing and just hung out and chatted waiting for K. Flay’s set. This would be the first time I really parted from my daughter because I was scheduled to go do my interview with Teenage Bottlerocket during K. Flay’s set. So I watched the highly talented gal perform a song complete with a real drummer, not much programmed beats, which was pretty cool. So I cruised over to the press building to do my interview and left the kiddo to see K. Flay.
I got to the press building and met up with Ray Carlisle we chatted about a few random things. Some mentioned before. The Q & A here is the other bulk of the mostly relevant stuff we talked about, so enjoy.
SLUG: This is the first year I’ve been in maybe ten years. My daughter has started getting into music especially in this realm so I guess a good question is, what do you think of how the youth culture is now compared to shows and fests you’ve played in years passed?
Carlisle: The first Warped Tour I went to was in 1995 and the main thing that changed everything is the internet and cell phones… back then I got a Lookout Records catalog and I ordered a Green Day Kerplunk on cassette through the mail. You had to dig to know Propagandhi in 1995 it was a lot more different to know them then in 1995 to now in 2014—everything is so accessible. I think it’s great, it’s easy to find out about bands like Teenage Bottlerocket just by saying, ‘Okay, let’s do a YouTube search for it and you see what the band is all about.’ Instead of like the first time I saw the band The Queers in the Lookout catalog I actually bought Love Sucks The Retarded not knowing what the hell they sounded like at all, just because of the name the queers sure, let’s get this tape. Nowadays it’s like ‘The Queers, huh, Google it…’
The chat with R. Carlisle was brief. We ended off with the front man saying he was going to go take his son to go sing a song with I Fight Dragons, and I cruised back to meet my daughter to see if I could catch any more of K. Flay. I got there with one song left and didn’t immediately let my kiddo know I was there, I snapped some cute photos of here clapping and singing along to K. Flay. After Flay’s set she moved over to her merch tent for a signing. The kiddo snagged a T-shirt and K. Flay’s new album Life as Dog. She got the CD signed and got to meet K. Flay and snag a photo with her. The fact that many artists, even some of the larger ones on the tour were doing signings and meetings was one of the cooler aspects of the tour and something that has continued throughout the years. It’s great that even in such a massive setting of artists and schedules that the artists can take the time to give fans that face to face experience.
From there we jumped over to see This Wild Life, one of the few mellower acts to have a larger stage. There was an acoustic set tent, but This Wild Life is deemed popular enough to get a larger stage and a band my daughter had discovered she really enjoyed out of all the Warped madness. The adjacent stage had Echosmith finishing up their set and from what I could see, it was actually an interestingly varied sound and performance with lots of drum beating. Something that, if my brain remembers, I’ll actually check into more. My daughter decided it was safe to jump in the photo pit for This Wild Life, considering the band is an acoustic duo. It was actually a bit odd from all the loudness surrounding the entire fairgrounds. You could hear some hardcore/deathcore screaming going on during K. Flay’s performance, basically with all the noise bombardment to see something so chill and mostly light was almost a nice refreshment, especially with sun starting to hide behind the clouds and allow temperatures to mellow a bit more.
The calm sounds from This Wild Life also set the fact that my daughter and I had been at the show since 11 a.m. and it was roughly 6 p.m.. The sun drains your energy, not to mention all the moving around and standing all day. I’m sure our extremely healthy lunch of a hot dog and fries didn’t quite give us the appropriate sustenance to maintain the same energy we had once the day had began. We stood close to the stage and watched This Wild Life play a few songs including my favorite of the set called “Puppy Love,” which the main singer said he had written for his dog. It made me want to be home at that moment giving my pup some love and just being in that comforting place. One of the few moments of the tour other than the jokes and times spent talking to my daughter it was one of the more emotionally connecting musical moments of the show for me. After a few songs we wandered back and sat under a shaded pavilion where you could see the two adjacent stages. Ate our snack and filled up on more water. I knew psychically I was pretty much toast at this point in time, but some genetic fluke has granted me extra points to my endurance. I was in it for the long haul, and my daughter wanted to be too, so we soldiered on.
The stage next to where This Wild Life played had the nu-metal revivalist band Issues, who I was already biased against, I joked that I’d go snag some photos, just for myself to witness and reassure my disdain for the band. So I shot photos while listening to two guys who couldn’t scream, sing nor rap bounce around to pretty simple guitar riffing. Yeah, it was pretty bad, my daughter agreed. We made the call to go end our day at the “Big Stage” that was to have Falling in Reverse, a band I know my daughter likes, even though she dislikes the lifestyle and personality of the vocalist. We were at the stage pretty early, we found a bench to sit on and rest our legs, listened and partially watched The Summer Set play which to me sounded like a pure pop band. We did our fair share of people watching and making comments, even though I did point out to my daughter that the same people we were making judgments on outfits, choice of T-shirt etc. could be saying the same things about us.
In that same down time where we knew our energy was basically next to nothing, it was time I valued just to get to talk to my daughter and be reassured of knowing a lot about who she is at this moment in time. Getting further reassurance of what kind of head she’s got resting on her teenage body. Talking about the pressures of her deciding what school she’s going to choose for 10th grade. The fact that none of her friends really like the same music she does. Her attitude that has no desire to want to even try drinking, smoking or any sort of drug. The fact that she will stick to her opinion no matter what any friend may say or talk bad about it. We talked about the fact that she got to go flying in an airplane and that she would get to pilot a good chunk of the flight for the second time during the summer. And if she’d have the energy to get moving after our long Warped Adventure. That’s time you can’t buy and the time spent just sharing the experience and viewing something I may already had formed an opinion about but through her eyes is the stuff money can’t buy. It’s invaluable, better than any musical experience that the Warped Tour could bring to either of us.
So to bring the day to a close, we waited in the sun, watched a security guard give a lecture to a teenage girl that had written “Fuck Off,” on her cleavage and cheer on the security guard for giving positive advice to the girl. The time for Falling in Reverse had come, my daughter and I had made our way a bit closer to the stage and promptly watched one song, my daughter was singing along. She knows the bands songs but I knew she had hit that wall of no energy. I knew if she had the energy to stay and watch the rest of the set she would have but she said, she had seen enough. We called it quits, made our way to the car and found out that she had left her car window rolled down, just as much my fault as it was hers. I knew there was nothing of high value to take from the car, but extreme kudos to the Warped Crowd for not even touching a thing in the car. Will we venture to the tour next year? I’d say it’s a safe bet… the question is, will my daughter a year older want her Dad to tag a long?
Warped Tour 2014 @ Utah State Fairgrounds 08.02
Warped Tour: hot, crowded, and amazing. My Dad and I started preparing a couple weeks before the show. Dad and I slowly went through all the bands that were playing. There were a lot! We sorted them into three categories: to see, to miss, and the maybes. I think that was the least fun part of the whole experience. It took a while and was boring and we didn’t really use the list. I didn’t know most of the bands that were playing, so it was cool to hear some new people. After we created the list we started talking about logistics. Mostly we talked about where to meet if we got separated. We also talked about what we were going to wear. It may seem like a silly thing but it’s really important. We wanted to wear something comfortable and somewhat covering. We also wanted to not wear black. Once we picked out what we were going to wear we were ready.
The morning of Warped Tour was pretty hectic. We got dressed and covered ourselves in sunscreen. Then we went to breakfast. Dad and I both had french toast. Then we went and got a pack of beef jerky, two big waters and packs of gum. We were on our way to Warped Tour! Once we got there we were surrounded by women in very little clothing and shirtless guys. We went and got a schedule.
We then went to the Kia Soul stage saw Parkway Drive. After that we walked to the Journeys stage and saw The Ready Set. Once they were done we went back to the Journeys stage and watched Beebs and Her Money Makers. I really liked the setup of the two stages. It was neat that there was a band playing all the time. When one band was done on one stage the other was ready to play. After Beebs and Her Money Makers we went to the Hard Rock Kevin Says stage and caught the end of Plague Vendor. At the end of their set Dad had beer spit on him. It was really amusing because the look on his face was disgusted. After them it was Teenage Bottlerocket. They were one of my favorite of the day. First the lead singer had his son come on stage and tell us some jokes. Then they played a joke on the crowd. They told us that whoever flipped them the bird the most won a car. Obviously it was fake, but it was funny to see all the people with their middle finger up the whole set. But the best part was when Dad went into the mosh pit. I had never seen him do that, so it was even funnier. When he went in he had his lips pressed tightly together so he wouldn’t breathe in the dust, but he failed because a few seconds later he had the biggest grin I had ever seen. After Teenage Bottlerockets we went to the Electric Soul Stage to see Of Mice and Men. We didn’t say very long. It was really crowded and I’m not a big fan of them.
At 4:50 p.m. it was time for K. Flay. I have been listening to her for about four years, so to be able to see her live was amazing. To say I was excited is an understatement. I was bouncing on the balls of my feet because I was so excited. Unfortunately, I got stuck next to two seven year-olds who were really obnoxious. Then there was an overweight guy in an American flag speedo. It was really gross! Once K. Flay got on stage the show started. She played some old stuff and new stuff. The part that disappointed me was she used the computer for a lot of the chorus, but other than that it was amazing. Later she had a signing and I got to take a picture with her and I also got a CD signed.
After K. Flay we headed over to the Warheads stage and saw This Wild Life. They were good but we got stuck to this really gooey couple who were really into public displays of affection. I had recently started to listen to This Wild Life and really liked them. Then while reading comments on their song Roots and Branches on YouTube I found out that they were coming to Warped Tour. We watched part of their set and headed over to the Electric Soul Stage and watched The Summer Set. They were OK but it was hard for me to focus because this girl was almost sitting on part of me. That was not fun! After The Summer Set we went into the fray for Falling in Reverse. It was really crowded and people were pushing through us to try to get to the front even though there was no room at all. They took forever to set up and I was really tired and my feet hurt badly from not wearing the best shoes. We only stayed for part of a song and then went home.
Warped Tour was an amazing experience even with all the crazy people. I had a lot of fun and I feel like I got to know my Dad a bit better. I would go again!