Juiceboxxx vs. the Vans Warped Tour
The tireless rapper/energy drink purveyor finds some unlikely inspiration from the crunk-screamo kids
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Let me say this up front: I really want to play the Vans Warped Tour. It’s a dream that has been in the back of my head for years, keeping me going through countless nights on tour playing noise-dude warehouses and punk dive bars. Every day in the van I would read my copy of Alternative Press and get lost in a world of 20th generation emo bands and the sickest new developments in crunk-screamo music, hoping that someday I could play with the big boys.
For now, I guess I’ll have to settle for attempting to create my own DIY Warped Tour, the Thunder Zone Tour (a promotional tour for my record label/energy drink happening this fall), so I thought it would be helpful to actually attend the Warped Tour to get inspired and maybe steal an idea or two. I had a really good time and learned a lot.
Every band “kills it”
No matter what you think about the actual musical output of the bands on Warped, one thing is undeniable: pretty much every one of these bands puts on a show and makes the kids go fucking crazy. Maybe I’m just a cheese ball, but I had more fun watching Bring Me The Horizon completely destroy the main stage than I’ve had at any indie rock show in years. It should also be noted that around 80 percent of the bands I saw called for a circle pit at some point in their set, even (especially) the ska bands.
They don’t care about documentation
Early in the day, my friend Alex noticed the conspicuous lack of cameras (cell phone or otherwise). Compared to a festival like Coachella, visible documentation of bands was minimal at Warped. The kids were just too caught up in the mosh to care about Instagram or Vine, and maybe this speaks to something larger: no matter how many decades removed from the original source material, punk is still about kids connecting with music in a very pure, inspiring way.
No Blood On The Dancefloor
One of the few disappointments of the day was the lack of genre-shattering crabcore/crunk-screamo bands like Blood On The Dancefloor or Brokencyde. Maybe these bands peaked a few years ago and inspired a backlash and subsequent regression towards more “credible” metalcore/pop-screamo styles. Whatever the case, I think it’s a shame. These bands combine electronic music, punk, rap, and beyond in ways that inspire confusion and bewilderment. For some people this confusion leads to anger; for me, it leads to happiness and inspiration.
I’m an outsider
Warped is a world where mid-2000s bands like Hawthorne Heights and The Used are “heritage acts,” and the only sign of the tour’s So-Cal heyday is a mid-afternoon set by Reel Big Fish. I’m fine with that. There is something exciting about feeling like an outsider while watching a band, plus it allows me to enjoy a great set by pop act Allstar Weekend without even knowing about their Radio Disney past and current record label troubles.
This music will age well
While pretty much everyone likes to make statements about the disposable nature of the music at Warped, I think that with a few decades of detachment this music will be viewed in a very different light. Look at how certain strands of ’70s and ’80s hard rock and power pop are viewed by critics now; to be sure, that stuff was not appreciated on that level in it’s time. Sometimes the cultural signifiers of a style of music are too much for people to take, but never forget that when the years pass and the dust settles all we are left with is the important shit: sick riffs and good pop songs.
I came out of the Warped Tour feeling refreshed and excited about live music, something I can’t say about most of the shows I go to. The energy and positivity of the bands and audience were infectious and made me want to step my game up in all ways. The Thunder Zone Tour this fall might be happening primarily in underground spaces seemingly a million miles away from what I witnessed Wednesday at the Marcus Amphitheater, but rest assured the spirit of Warped will be in my blood. See you in the pit.