The Vans Warped tour gets a lot of guff from the sort of people who get off on guff-giving. Beyond the skinny-pantsed, Auto-Tuned, Cleveland-steemo acts (and there are several of those), the tour offers a chance to see a surprising variety of quality national groups that might not otherwise stop here, and more importantly, it’s not going to Austin. Booyah! Back on top, baby.
A dozen years after their debut, Alkaline Trio is sounding decidedly more pop than punk, nearly New Wavey, but their subject matter — codependency (“This Addiction”), post-traumatic stress disorder (“American Scream”) — reveals a maturity that suits their mellower style.
I’m not so much recommending this one as informing you it’s a thing that exists. The idea of a traveling show starring little people dressed as Oompa-Loompas, leprechauns, and various “mini” versions of celebrities such as Britney Spears and Donald Trump makes my liberal guilt flare up like rheumatism before a rainstorm, but the name Justin Wieber makes me laugh anyway.
The Dillinger Escape Plan
The DEP have spent more than a decade hiding out in that sweet spot where nerd-rage noise-rock, mathematics-based hardcore, and terrifying awesomeness intersect, and their fourth full-length, Option Paralysis, released in March, is one of their best ever.
Grind Time Now Emcee Battle
A freestyle battle’s always a gamble, and the a-cappella videos on the Grind Time site don’t get my hopes up, but watching these wannabe 8-Milers swap insults just might be your best bet if you want a break from the fest’s many, many guitar-based rock bands.
Pierce the Veil
This band melds melodic screamo with elements of honest-to-gosh hardcore, probably alienating inflexible fans of both genres, but their mixture of hooks and intensity and aggressive instrumental proficiency should play well live for an open-minded audience.
Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
This Indiana country-blues outfit is actually only a three-piece, but they’re the only act on the tour that can supply your washboard fix. Even live, they’ll probably sound like an age-worn blues record pulled out of Alan Lomax’s attic.
These Denton-via-Austin punks would make a crummy soundtrack to a leisurely raft ride down the mighty Mississipp’ but an excellent one for losing your shit in a mosh pit. Just remember no matter what you do, you can’t out-crazy frontman Mike Wiebe.
The Summer Set
If the Bay City Rollers grew up listening to the Jonas Brothers, this is what they’d sound like. Watch out for all the 40-something women obsessed with this band, the so-called “Summer Set moms.” Yes, we only recommended them so we could use that joke.
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