VANS WARPED TOUR 2014, Pomona Fairplex, Pomona, CA, June 20th, 2013
After a commencement of nothing but soaring temperatures in places such as Texas, Arizona, and Nevada, relief was certainly within the sights of this year’s edition of the Vans Warped Tour. Welcome to Seaside Park in Ventura, California – overlooking the Pacific Ocean with the sun and cool breezes always associated with a beach community. The site has always been one of the best places to see Warped Tour, and this Sunday in late June would be no exception. Not only was the weather absolutely perfect, but a special guest band had been announced. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the mighty Linkin Park would be making an appearance at the Ventura date as part of the Warped Tour’s 20th Anniversary. There was a genuine excitement and anticipation within the concert goers that permeated the atmosphere. While Warped shows are always memorable occasions, this particular day in Ventura would be an event to be remembered for the ages! But now, it was on to the Ernie Ball Stage to check out some of the Battle Of The Bands’ winners.
The New Varsity
The New Varsity from Claremont is one of the most underrated pop punk bands on the planet today. One could clearly see that playing Warped Tour was certainly a “bucket list” event for each and every member, and at the Ernie Ball Stage, they hit it out of the ball park as the first band on the day at the Ernie Ball Stage. Opening with the dynamic refrains of A Place To Call Home followed by the memorably titled I Puked At The Fonda, The New Varsity clearly won over the early arrivals with their infectious anthems and vibrant musicianship. In addition to songs from their Running Out Of Time release, a standout new song entitled The Last Day In November was performed. The New Varsity definitely proves that pop punk is far from a dead genre, and left a lasting impression with their short but exhilarating set. The talented members of The New Varsity are Kyle Feyk-Miney on guitar and lead vocals, Eric Putnam on lead guitar and backing vocals, Diante’ Thomas on bass and backing vocals, and Taz Reeves on drums. A well-deserved win for band who very well could help bring pop punk spiraling back to the Warped Tour and beyond!
The Ernie Ball stage continued to be the place to discover new talent, as False Puppet from Santa Barbara were ready to rock the living daylights out of the Warped crowd. This tremendously charismatic power trio attracted quite an audience, and delivered a wonderfully energetic performance. With remarkably solid songs such as What You Do To Me and Hall Of Shame, one could clearly see why they were selected as a Battle Of The Bands winner. False Puppet is a true winning combination, featuring the participation of Tyler Benko on vocals on guitar, Channing Peake on bass and backing vocals, and Brennan Benko on drums. A standout set from a band we are destined to hear a lot more of in the months ahead. Upcoming dates include August 10th at The Avalon and August 29th at The Troubadour. They may be called False Puppets, but their music is anything but bogus – one listen and this trio will launch you straight into the rock and roll stratosphere!
Based out of the Camarillo area, Galvanized Souls was another Battle Of The Bands winner who took over the Ernie Ball Stage in a big and glorious way! This young band has been receiving a good deal of acclaim above and beyond Ventura County, and they definitely showed the Warped Tour crowd the impact of timeless, heartfelt rock and roll. Opening with Fall Of Icarus, Galvanized Souls instantly attracted a good amount of people ready to check out the rocking goodness emitting from the stage. The short but solid set included standout selections such as Make A Sound, Carry On, and the very much in your face Shut You Down. Galvanized Souls consists of Matt DeMartini on bass and vocals, Zakk Silveira on guitar and lead vocals, Chris Traylor on guitar and vocals, and Kevin Cogen on drums and vocals. Be sure to catch Galvanized Souls on June 26h at The Whisky and July 5th at The Troubadour, both in the wilds of Hollywood!
When attending Warped Tour, one must be prepared for any kind of sonic extravaganza – this festival has become wondrously diverse over the years – and no one displays a penchant for pushing boundaries more than the world renowned sensation known as Shiragirl. Founder of the notorious pink colored Warped Tour stage which bears her moniker, Shiragirl’s set is lively, sassy, and ready to bring on the dance party! Channeling classic acts such as Madonna and Joan Jett, the seductive Shira and her two gorgeous dancers (and a hard working DJ too!) thoroughly enraptured the crowd with their wildly infectious songs. It’s a change from the punk rock anthems Shiragirl has been known for in the past, but it shows a true artist at the height of her creativity. The stage is being sponsored all summer by Conquer Entertainment. If you are looking to get away from the hardcore and metal overdrive on the various stages, be sure to check out the pulsating dance-tastic sounds of Shiragirl.
And now for the main event of the day – a surprise set by Linkin Park that absolutely stunned and surprised the Warped Tour Ventura throngs – complete with many famous special guests. There were people as far as the eye could in front of a giant center stage that was constructed especially for the Linkin Park appearance. At 5:30 in the afternoon, the legendary Los Angeles based band took the stage, exploding into a rousing rendition of One Step Closer. Nate Barcalow of Finch was the first of the many guests to appear, singing his heart out with Linkin Park during One Step Closer. David Schmitt of Breathe Carolina delivered a rapturous vocal for New Divide, followed by Mike and Jeremy of The Devil Wears Prada, absolutely killing it with Guilty All The Same. The all-star rocker cast kept on arriving for special appearances – featuring key members of Issues, Yellowcard, A Day To Remember – even Machine Gun Kelly unleashed vo-kills for Bleed It Out. Social media would overload before, during and after this powerful set – with many in the audience stating this was the best performance they have EVER witnessed at the Vans Warped Tour. It was indeed a set of epic proportions – and an absolute stroke of genius from Warped Tour promoter Kevin Lyman. Kids will be talking about the Linkin Park show at Warped Tour 2014 in Ventura for many years to come…
There were still plenty of bands left to experience after Linkin Park exited the stage. For us, it was back to the Ernie Ball Stage to catch a set from Cursed Sails, a newer signing from Velocity / Rise Records. Featuring Ben and Cory Ferris formerly of Issues and Woe, Is Me – Cursed Sails is a whole new beast entirely. Imagine hardcore combined with the sickest of grunge, and you are only beginning to envision the dark sonic meanderings of Cursed Sails. Opening their set with the pummeling Dead Daze from their debut Rotten Society release, the ferocious attitude heaving out from the stage reminded me of the great hardcore bands that used to devastate Hellfest on the East Coast. The most memorable song in the set was definitely Thunderbird, whose chorus “live fast, die young” reverberated with a vast amount of fiendish glee. Also credited to the controlled chaos known as Cursed Sails are Omar Magana and Brent Guistwite. Together, these four musicians will annihilate your senses and leave you wanting a whole lot more! It’s always exciting to discover incredible new bands such as Cursed Sails at Warped Tour!
The Ready Set
The last band we would see at Warped Tour in Ventura would be The Ready Set, kicking off the pop rock dance party on the Warheads Stage. Now finding themselves on a brand new label with their third album in tow, The Ready Set certainly had the screaming girls going strong when performing selections such as Love Like Woe and Best Song Ever. Of the newer material from their Artery Records debut The Bad & The Better, Freakin Me Out and Fangz possessed a ton of hit single potential, with many in the audience already singing along even though the albums only been out a few weeks. Jordan Witzigreuter is the mastermind of The Ready Set, a charismatic performer who continues to shine and deliver absolutely amazing songs. On the way out, this reviewer was humming the infectious chorus of Best Song Ever – and it continued to jangle relentlessly in my head on the ride back to the SFV!
Ventura was surely that stuff that Warped Tour legends are made of – from Linkin Park all the way to new band discoveries that more adventurous types tend to make throughout the afternoon! And a few days later, it would be off to San Diego for the final 2014 Southern California date…
(Review by Ken Morton – Photos by Edward Brandon)
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