Warped Tour – Cricket Pavilion – San Diego, CA – August 10, 2010
The Vans Warped Tour swung through Southern California once again, now in the homestretch as it heads into its final week. For all the adverse weather conditions the traveling show has been encountering throughout the country – including hurricanes, torrential rains and sweltering heat – the warm and mild San Diego day must have seemed like a refreshing reprieve for all of the touring acts. It was one of those days at Warped that many will reminder for some time to come – good bands, the best of times, and a moment of poignancy towards the end of the day presented by a local San Diego band that gave many a time for reflection. San Diego is a road trip for us Los Angeles journalists, but certainly well worth taking every year.
For the super early arrivers, they had a choice of either seeing Andrew WK and his crew party it up on the Main stage or local band A City Serene showing the crowd why they are one of the most talked about new bands in SoCal on the Ernie Ball Stage. Both were certainly fine ways to kick off a Tuesday afternoon in August at Warped.
The last time I saw a full set of The Word Alive was their debut show at the Chain Reaction in September of 2008, and Craig Mabbitt of Escape The Fate was the lead vocalist. An impressive debut to be sure, so it was a bit disappointing to hear about his being kicked out of the band a few months later. The times and faces do change, and The Word Alive circa 2010 remains a mighty force to be reckoned with. Telle Smith, formerly of Greeley Estates and In Fear And Faith, has really become an accomplished front man, and delivers the vocals with a strong sense of urgency. Since they did not have the opportunity to play their own local Warped date in the always sweltering Arizona, they made San Diego their adopted hometown for the tour, and the fans certainly responded their approval. Song such as Casanova Rodeo, The Wretched, and their new single Epiphany thrilled the crowd. Their upcoming full length on Fearless Records is entitled Deceiver, and judging by the tracks they played from it during their set, the disc is bound to gain them a good deal of respect and acclaim. Most notable is the atmospheric keyboard underscore, which sends the material to even greater heights.
Even Disco Curtis lead vocalist Tanner Howe found it strange and ironic that their band would see themselves performing on the Punk Rock Legends stage. A place where Fear and The Adolescents would be playing later on, it did not matter to the many fans who showed up to watch Disco Curtis rock the place out. Their brand of infectious pop really had all in the crowd bopping along, especially when the guys burst into their playful rendition of the Lady Gaga song Just Dance. Their own original tunes should gain the band a good deal of attention, including Ammunition, This Gravity, and their MySpace hit Ashley. There were a lot of smiles and good times reflecting from the stage, and you could tell that the band connected with ease to the crowd. All the little girls understood – and fans of groove inspired power pop should enjoy what Disco Curtis has to offer as well.
Having won yet another intensive band competition, Damnear Divine made the trek from Las Vegas to perform on the Ernie Ball Stage in San Diego. The guys played Extreme Thing two years ago, headlining the local band stage, and impressed the hometown crowd. Unfortunately in San Diego, the set was short and rushed, yet Damnear Divine nevertheless left a lasting impression. Vocalist Ryan Hart is extremely charismatic and performed with both conviction and professionalism. The entire band took what could have been a bad situation (sound problems, abbreviated set time) and gave the audience a fine sampling of why they remain one of Sin City’s most promising collectives. Songs performed included Break Out, Didn’t You Get The Memo, Waiting at The Gallows, and Warning: Serious Injury or Death May Occur. In case you didn’t get the memo: Damnear Divine is damnear fantastic!
Witnessed in the audience during the set of Never Shout Never on the AP Advent stage – Girl running towards the stage dragging her boyfriend screaming at the sight of Christofer Drew, while her boyfriend says, “I fuckin’ hate that guy!” For those who like Never Shout Never, this was THE event of the Warped Tour. With an overflowing crowd at the stage, Christofer Drew and his band performed an emotional set of tunes that struck a knowing note with many in the audience. The audience sang along to songs such as Love Is Our Weapon, Trouble, and the absolutely remarkably heart wrenching What Is Love?. There is no denying the effectiveness of Drew’s performance and songwriting talent – and with a gift this vast and wondrous come both the lovers and the haters. Never Shout Never has come a long way over the last few years – and all the hard work has apparently paid off tenfold. For many decked out in “I Love Christofer Drew shirts,” Warped Tour was already over.
A band who has gained a solid reputation for lively shows and terrific songs over the last few years is Artist vs Poet, who performed on the opposite Glamour Kills stage right after Never Shout Never ended their set. Even after several weeks on the Warped Tour, the band remained as dynamic and energetic as ever. Tarcy Thomason is an animated front man, really reeling in the crowd with his stage presence and emotive vocals. The entire band is tighter than ever, exciting the crowd with songs such as Unconscious Reality and the should-be hit single Adorable. Craig Calloway and Joe Kirkland rev it up to a ten on jangly, dueling guitars while Jason Dean on bass and Joe Westbrook on drums make an unbeatable rhythm section. Closing with Damn Rough Night, the band had the entire crowd singing and jumping up and down to its wildly infectious refrains. Expect these guys to be on the Main Stage next year. Their latest CD Favorite Fix is out now from Fearless Records!
Back to Punk Rock Legends to see a band who definitely represented the name of the stage – The Adolescents!!! These guys may always open up their set with the classic No Way, but what is terrific song it is! The punks started the pit immediately while Tony Adolescent sang the chorus, “No way! I cannot live in a world this gay!” The Adolescents remain as powerful and compelling as ever, with tunes such as Welcome To Democracy and Creatures still retaining their confrontational impact. The place went wild when the band burst into their KROQ classic Amoeba, showing the youngins at Warped what true punk rock is all about. The group closed with Kids Of The Black Hole, about a place that belongs “to all the homeless kids” – another signature Adolescents song that remains as crucial today as it was when first recorded in 1981. The Adolescents perform on the Punk Rock Legends stage every year, and always remain the absolute highlight of the day. Looking forward to hearing their upcoming record The Fastest Kid Alive, which should be out before the end of the year.
In Fear And Faith played late in the afternoon, presenting a memorable set in the face of personal tragedy. Part way through the set, bassist Tyler McElhaney announced that his mother had passed away the previous day. Being from San Diego, she had planned to go check out the band at the Cricket Pavillion. Tyler reminded the audience just how precious the time we spend with loved ones really is – and there wasn’t a dry eye to be seen after the tremendously poignant moment. The band really pulled it together though, and launched into their impressive cover of Coolio’s classic song Gansta’s Paradise. And to cap of the end of the set, Craigery Owens (ex-Chiodos, Cinematic Sunrise) joined the band onstage for a song, definitely making the entire experience one that will be remembered and cherished as a Warped 2010 highlight. Tyler will be understandably staying home with his family while the rest of the band will continue on to complete the final week of the tour.
Leaving a bit early because of the long drive back home to the City Of Angels and the prospect of Warped Tour Pomona in the morning, San Diego was definitely a memorable road trip. For those reading this far, take the time out right now to get away from the computer for a minute and call a loved one…
(Review and Photos by Kenneth Morton)