VANS WARPED TOUR 2011, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA, August 10th, 2011

As the Vans Warped Tour was well into its final week, the last Southern California stop took place in Carson, CA, where local kids packed the grounds of Cal State Dominquez Hills for some fun in the dog days of August.

One thing Warped really needs to be commended on is their endless supply of free filtered water at the Klean Kanteen refilling stations. This is something that the many other outdoor summer tours really need to consider doing. Many thanks to Kevin Lyman and the staff at Warped for thinking about the kids who attend their shows and caring enough to set this up! Once again, the Vans Warped Tour has proven to be the most cost effective, thoroughly entertaining concert experience out there today.

Here are the bands Highwire Daze checked out at the Carson stop.  (Pictured above: Jordan Witzigreuter of The Ready Set visits the crowd at the Tilly’s AP Stage)


Right off the bat, a big musical surprise arrived in the form of Hopes High. Fans of Relient K and Mayday Parade are destined to make a date with their musical destiny when encountering the memorable tunes this Los Angeles based collective has to offer. A well deserved winner of the Ernie Ball Battle Of The Band’s Competition, Hopes High presented the early arrivers with a solid set of inspiring pop rock tunes. Amazingly unsigned, Hopes High performed songs from their self-released Move Stop Wait effort. Top tunes in their set included Words Well Chosen, Bring It Back, and Answer. The new generation of laid-back So Cal rock has arrived in the form of Hopes High, and their tunes will jangle in your head long after the back leaves the stage. The capable Hopes High Warped tour lineup consisted of Steve Tippeconnic on drums, TJ Barnhart on bass, Matt Mark on guitar, and Jesse Weidner on vocals and acoustic guitar. (MIA was guitarist Keenan Hall). What a terrific way to start off a pleasantly sunny day in Southern California. And someone please get Relient K a copy of their EP – Mono Vs Stereo (or any record label) should be calling for these guys pronto!


While unimaginative critical types have likened Neo Geo and their charismatic vocalist Rainy Terrell to Paramore, I would say that Pat Benatar or Blondie would be a more apt comparison. Up onstage, Rainy places so much heart and passion into her performance, and the sparks really fly out into the audience. The entire Neo Geo experience is tremendously tight and empowering. The rockers were highly effective, with Rainy and band shining through the dazzling material. THS was especially moving, a song Rainy said was about “never having a father.” Touch Me is another standout hard rocker that should be played all over the radio airwaves – and is super potent when performed live. Sex Robot was another attention grabbing stunner! Their explosive self-titled CD is now available from Hardline Entertainment. Based out of Fullerton, Neo Geo has broken out from behind the Orange Curtain and is more than ready for the big leagues. Be sure to catch this band for a truly gripping performance. In addition to the knockout vocals of Rainy Terrell, the inspired Neo Geo lineup consists of Ryan Walter on keys and guitar, Andy Cole on bass, Nick DiBiasi on drums, and Jesse Suave on guitar.


If you want to see the new generation of old school OC punk rock, the New Skool Kings is definitely the band for you! Bringing back the early days of Warped with an all-out vengeance, this young collective presented a volatile set of tunes that garnered them a good deal of notice. The punk rocking anthems never let up, with original songs such as My Obscenity and Running Out Of Time being absolute highlights. Their cover of Separation Of Church And Skate by NOFX was also exceptional! Lead vocalist Chad Lundy was all over the stage and in the crowd, singing with a fierce sense of power and conviction. Ricki Kincer and Adam Haines slammed it out of the park on dueling guitars while bassist Krystian Hodges and drummer Mike Dittman made for a rock solid rhythm section. Another Ernie Ball winner that we’ll be hearing a lot more of in future days!


No need to leave the Ernie Ball stage, as the best in local talent kept on arriving, this time in the form of Bella Terra from Gardena. The band recently unleashed a tremendous EP entitled Kingdoms, and proved to be a big winner in the annual Ernie Ball Battle Of The Band’s Competition. Drawing a rather sizeable crowd to the local stage, Bella Terra launched into their set with the mighty strains of Brutal Combo Mambo. It was exhilarating to see everyone singing along and moshing to a hometown band, showing the same excitement usually reserved for the big national favorites. Other especially impressive songs were Twenty Three Nineteen and A Monster In Daylight. A metallic hardcore band with a decidedly progressive edge, the standout Bella Terra lineup consists of Edwin on vocals, Steven on guitar, Mario on guitar, Lawrence on bass, and Derick on drums. These guys are ready to be signed now, and have the material and fan base to back it all up. With terrific bands such as Bella Terra, New Skool Kings, and Hopes High all winning slots on the Ernie Ball stage at the Carson Warped date, one clearly witnesses just how wondrous and diverse our local music scene is!


It was time for a Pop-tastic! dance party when Stephen Jerzak and his band took to the Skullcandy stage. The set kicked off with the techno version of She Said, a pulsating rendition of the song that had the audience really taking notice. Then up next was Miles N Miles, a crowd favorite that really impressed with its sunny, infectious melody. Time Bomb was an older Stephen Jerzak tune that the fans were all singing along with. The real anthem of the set was the joyous Party Like Your Single, the closing number that has tremendous hit single potential. Jerzak possesses a good deal of positive energy and charisma, and the vibes were infinitely contagious. Also joining in on the band were Adam Chojnacki on keyboards and guitar as well as Joel Tock on drums. If you didn’t see Stephen Jerzak’s set at Warped Tour this year, you truly missed the pop rock party of the summer! Be sure to check out his debut album Miles And Miles, out now from Republic Records.


A summer on the Warped Tour has surely gained Jordan Witzigreuter and his band The Ready Set a whole new collection of fans. On the pop rock side of the spectrum, Witzigreuter has grown tremendously as a performer, singing more aggressively and passionately than ever. Kicking off the set with the anthem rock number Young Forever, there was quite a sizable crowd packed around the Tilly’s AP stage singing along to each and every song. Operator was a brand new cut premiered live at Warped Tour, demonstrating an edgier yet still highly effective take on The Ready Set’s signature sound. Spinnin’ from The Ready Set’s debut album I’m Alive, I’m Dreaming was super infectious highlight, pop rock perfection with a swirling chorus showing just how diverse and effective Jordan’s vocals are. And the set closer, the hit single Love Like Woe, had everyone in the crowd dancing and singing along to its breezy funky inflection. Such a talented artist who could pretty much achieve anything he sets his mind to, expect Jordan Witzigreuter and The Ready Set to be headlining main stages all across the country – and perhaps at future editions of Warped Tour.


It was time to take a visit to the Main Stage to check out the always-intensive The Devil Wears Prada live set. Zombie Songs and other Prada favorites abound, featuring the band tearing up the stage with a ferocious precision. Tighter and even more brutal than ever before, there were multiple mosh pits all around, and the crowd surfers were in full flight. Mike Hranica is one of the most dynamic front men out there today, whose energy and sheer intensity threatened to detonate all over the stage. Guitarist Jeremy DePoyster supplies the perfect contrast on clean vocals, singing with a dynamic sense of passion. Also notable is James Baney’s effective keyboard work, weaving an ominous sense of danger throughout the fiery tunes. Chris Rubey shreds it up on guitar while bassist Andy Trick and drummer Daniel Williams make for a truly devastating rhythm section. Stay tuned for their upcoming Ferret Records release entitled Dead Throne, guaranteed to scorch all that encounter its unearthly reveries.


The last band we would see at this year’s edition of the Vans Warped Tour would be The Word Alive, and what a fantastic way to end a day of grand music and perfect weather. It was late in the day, yet the fans surrounding the Advent Stage were more than ready to mosh it up for the Phoenix, Arizona based band. Vocalist “Telle” Tyler Smith was super intense and in top form, delivering the lyrics with a magnetic sense of passion. You could also feel the sincerity and appreciation in his voice when he expressed his thanks to the fans for their support. Zack Hansen and Tony Pizzuti took turns delivering some very impressive guitar solos while Dusty Riach underscored it all brilliantly on keyboards. Bringing it all home with relentless force are Daniel Shapiro on bass and Justin Salinas on drums. Standout cuts from the set included Like Father Like Son and 2012.


And thus ended the Southern California Vans Warped Tour 2011 dates! While the tour and the summer wraps up, the memories many a music fans has from Warped are sure to last beyond the turning of the season. Congratulations to Kevin Lyman and all at Warped Tour on another successful year and thanks to Libby, Bethany and the tireless staff at MSO! See you all next year!!!

(Reviews and Photos by Kenneth Morton)

Hopes High on Facebook
Neo Geo on Facebook
New Skool Kings on Facebook
Bella Terra on Facebook
Stephen Jerzak on Facebook
The Ready Set on Facebook
The Devil Wears Prada on Facebook
The Word Alive on Facebook
Vans Warped Tour Official Home Page


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