Written By: Michael and Terri Gonzales
For the past 22 years now Vans Warped Tour has embarked on its coast to coast journey across the nation with an onslaught of bands ranging from new, old, mainstream, underground, and a little bit of everything else in between providing a dynamic blend of artists to the masses. This year was no exception when the tour rolled into Tinley Park, Illinois on July 23 with a well rounded lineup consisting of some heavy hitters such as Sleeping With Sirens, Falling In Reverse, Atreyu, Motionless In White, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Sum 41, Good Charlotte, and many more. To help make the day that much more interesting there was an absurd heatwave in effect for the Chicago area and high percentage of thunderstorms by late afternoon. Nevertheless, rain or shine, the show must go on and that it most certainly did.
First and foremost, it is highly recommended that if you want to be inside the venue before the plethora of performances begin it is essential to arrive early and donate to Feed Our Children Now, they accept donations of (3) canned goods (cannot be dented or expired cans), a $5 donation, or a used cell phone per person for early admission. Even if you arrive at sunrise and are first in line, you will still only be able to get in when general entry begins, so donating is your only way to ensure early entry, plus you should receive a small karmic bonus for your donation. With set times changing everyday of the tour, you essentially have no idea when your favorite bands are playing and some can quite easily be missed otherwise. Wrong time at the wrong stage, trust me it happens. The giant inflatable schedule will have the day’s stages and times listed per band. However, it is very much recommended to spend the $2 for a printed schedule that also comes with a map of all of the stages on the backside of it. The printed schedule is also the only way to get a map of where all of the stages are located at. This will prove to be a lifesaver and worth its weight in gold before the day’s end. Sunblock is another huge essential, especially on a day like this one where the heat and humidity combo was sweltering. Even if you think you have applied enough sunblock, keep putting it on regularly if you don’t want to go home at the end of the night hurting from a nasty sunburn.
Opening things up was Birmingham, U.K.’s Oceans Ate Alaska with an extremely heavy set that included a large inflatable hammerhead shark float being tossed about the stage and crowd. They did not disappoint, and were a perfect way to kick things off even though it was early, everyone was eager to get rowdy. Yellowcard drew a massive crowd as many fans viewed this as one of their last chances to see them perform live. They put on an upbeat and fun performance as they always do. Yellowcard are heading out on a farewell tour this fall and then disbanding afterwords. Issues had an entirely Pokémon themed setup which surely appealed to the countless Pokémon GO players in attendance. Issues put on an energetic and lively set that had everyone entertained.
Ice Nine Kills singer Spencer Charnas was a screaming frenzy as their crowd got nice and riled up. New Found Glory were one of the many veteran acts on the lineup this year with a well rounded pop punk set full of enthusiasm. Reel Big Fish were another veteran act that put on a hilarious and entertaining performance full of covers, classics, and jokes galore which left everyone feeling great by the end of their set. Mayday Parade had a massive crowd gathered for their rock jams. Chelsea Grin came out hard and heavy. As a bonus a band member’s young son came out break dancing on stage with some serious moves before they even started playing.
Every Time I Die put on a wild performance with nonstop chaos on stage and in the crowd. Brothers Keith Buckley, lead vocalist, and Jordan Buckley, guitarist, were simultaneously leaping into the crowd together making their fans go wild. Ballyhoo! delivered plenty of their smooth reggae and punk infused jams. 3OH!3 put on a rhythmic set as the lyrical duo along with their special guest drummer Jess Bowen of The Summer Set on board for the tour.
Whitechapel came out hard and heavy grinding away with an onslaught of guitars and vocals stirring up one hell of a pit. We The Kings had plenty of singalong jams that the crowd loved every second of. Real Friends certainly held one of the largest crowds of the day and with good reason given this was their literal hometown show as they are from Tinley Park, Illinois. Singer Dan Lambton came out all smiles to an ecstatic crowd as he downed some locally made 3 Floyds “Alpha King” to combat the blistering heat at one of the hottest points of the day.
Motionless In White had a smashing presence with bassist Devin “Ghost” Sola taking the stage in an amazing Regan MacNeil costume and makeup from The Exorcist that was on the level of some serious Hollywood grade makeup and attire. Ghost has been changing it up all summer long with a variety of costumes and attire as he has long become known for. Motionless In White brought a nonstop energy that has to be seen live to be truly experienced with one of the wildest crowds of the day by far.
Falling In Reverse had an extreme turnout and frontman Ronnie Radke used his powers of persuasion and influence to command the massive flock to all sit down together on the pavement and then leap up at once upon his command in unison. After a bit of coercion it went quite well. Radke held it down with plenty of stylish dance moves accompanied with his one of a kind vocal melodies. Bassist Zakk Sandler was sweating it out like a trooper with not only a full leather jacket, but also a black garbage on underneath his t-shirt based strictly off of a dare from Ronnie. Check out our Falling In Reverse photo gallery for visual proof.
It was a real treat to get to see the recently reunited metalcore veterans Atreyu as they put on a fantastic show that rivaled their performances from a decade ago. Between paying homage to being in Illinois with a ZZ Top “La Grange” breakdown mid song to lead vocalist Alex Varkatzas spending much of his time within the crowd every fan was left smiling ear to ear. Atreyu brought an energy like only they can leaving their fans enthralled and wanting more. Motionless In White frontman Chris Motionless joined Atreyu for “Lip Gloss and Black” as an added bonus to an already stellar set. Good Charlotte was up next with hundreds of fans reveling in nostalgia as the Madden Brothers were back on stage. Benji Madden’s wife, Cameron Diaz, was also in attendance side stage along with other Warped Tour artists such as Kellin Quinn, and even a special appearance made by Knuckle Puck vocalist Joe Taylor who did guest vocals with Joel Madden.
Australia’s In Hearts Wake had a stage decked out in tons of ivy and inflatable crocodiles that made their way out into the crowd much to the fans delight. The boys from Byron Bay delivered a barrage of heavy music as was expected. Rockford, Illinois natives The Color Morale came out ready to rock being in their home state and wasted no time getting down. Vanna frontman Davey Muise was on stage for “Suicide Stigma” helping things get that much wilder. Longtime Warped Tour veterans Less Than Jake charged the stage with the same animosity as they did 20 years ago proving that they have not stopped since day one. Lead vocalist Chris DeMakes rocked a stylish American themed suit as the Floridians got wild on stage like only they can. Their signature Evo Kid mascot came out with a high powered t-shirt cannon launching shirts and other goods into the crowd.
Sleeping With Sirens were one of the most anticipated acts of the tour and it was clearly evident as they amassed one of, if not, the largest crowds of the day. Kellin Quinn’s vocal harmonies had the crowd entranced as Sleeping With Sirens came out full throttle from the start with “We Like It Loud” followed up with “Kick Me” kicking the energy levels up immediately. Sadly their performance was cut short near the end due to an injured fan that had to receive medical attention.
As the extremely dark and ominous storm clouds loomed closer and closer with heavy winds picking up as well, Arizona’s The Word Alive were closing out the Monster Energy Stages for the night. Despite the foreboding rough storms on the horizon, The Word Alive used it as fuel to their fire delivering an intense performance. Vocalist Telle Smith let out some of the most ruthless screams of the day as The Word Alive cranked away seemingly oblivious to the impending storms on the horizon, and all the while thanking their dedicated fans for sticking it out all day long to watch them perform. Canadian pop punk veterans Sum 41 ended the day for many on a high note. They performed a mix of old and new hits pleasing generations of fans. State Champs shut the night down, but as the rain and heavy lightening began to kick in it was time to go for many.
Nonetheless, it was another chapter in the books for Vans Warped Tour once again delivering a truly one of a kind event that will be remembered by many concert goers for countless years to come. Vans Warped Tour is a very unique festival that must be experienced to be truly understood. It is with good reason that this tour has carried on strong for the past 22 years, and will seemingly be doing so for decades to come. The beauty of Vans Warped Tour is that it combines so many different genres and styles of music and people into such a unique mix that nothing else out there can compare to it. It is nearly guaranteed that you will find a new band, if not multiple bands, you have never heard of before and fall in love with them while attending Vans Warped Tour which is something any music lover can appreciate. Despite the fact that Vans Warped Tour is nearly completed for this year, it is never too early to start planning your trip for next year. This is a one of a kind concert experience that is often imitated yet never duplicated as there is only one Vans Warped Tour. Stay tuned in early 2017 as next year’s Vans Warped Tour lineup should be freshly announced, and like always it is sure to deliver like no other concert or festival can.
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