There are two things I know for certain when it comes to the Vans Warped Tour: 1. People who voluntarily choose to wear black in 90-degree weather are insane and 2. Warped Tour has and always will continue to give stage time to up-and-coming artists. Last year’s lineup had a clear focus on hip-hop artists with Mod Sun, T. Mills, and G-Eazy taking the stage all-summer long. This year finds the tour taking a road less traveled with a slew of indie acts ranging from Americana to shoegaze to indie pop.
At the Holmdel, New Jersey stop of the tour, Brooklyn’s Allison Weiss played an acoustic set in the (of course) Acoustic Basement tent. The morning sun was relentlessly beating down, but that was the last thing on anyone’s mind as Weiss sang “Why can’t I get what’s left of you?/There’s nothing left of you.” As she played through “Nothing Left” from her latest LP, Say What You Mean, the scorching heat was but a distant memory. Swept away into a world of blissful, jubilant tunes, the Brooklyn songstress provided an escape as her story-songs weaved an alternate reality around her crowd. Weiss’ set also consisted of new songs like the ever-catchy “Making It Up” and chatting with the crowd about YouTube. The American Scene’s Matt Vincent played a solo set in the Acoustic Basement tent as well. He played with the most gentle of serious demeanors and showed that the all-acoustic tent could have just as dynamic performances as the bigger stages.
Motion City Soundtrack played it energetic and quirky over at the Kia Forte stage as they introduced songs like “This is a song about things”—which turned out to be the classic “Time Turned Fragile.” They ripped through their set leaving no prisoners or time for much banter other than quick one-liners. However the speed Motion City Soundtrack were going at was much appreciated, because as their crowd grew bigger and bigger, slowing down wasn’t a choice.
New to the Warped Tour circuit was Los Angeles’ New Beat Fund. Self-described as “g-punk,” these Cali-rockers definitely brought their West Coast heat over to our neck of the woods. The foursome were a rainbow of colors on stage, donning brightly colored t-shirts and even purple hair. The aesthetic only added to their performance as they bobbed their heads in almost robotic movements that only brought smiles to the crowd. Their sweet dance moves were coupled with their equally sweet tunes, dripping in cheeky lyrics and fresh beats.
Aussies and Warped Tour newbies Hands Like Houses entertained in the amphitheater where many sought refuge from the sweltering sun. Their set showcased much of their upcoming album, Unimagine, with “Shapeshifter” being a set highlight. The band not only had some fancy looking mustaches but were on point throughout their performance. Lead singer Trenton Woodley’s vocals were scorching from beginning to end, backed with instrumentation that could be the textbook definition of precision. This year’s Warped Tour lineup really showcased Warped Tour founder and curator Kevin Lyman’s ongoing devotion to rising artists. With indie pop artists performing on one stage, and metal acts on the next, there’s a bounty of musical discoveries waiting to be heard time and time again.