News Column

Warped Tour is a summer feast of colliding styles

July 24, 2013

YellowBrix

July 24--The Warped Tour turns 20 next summer, and though the sights and sounds of the annual festival have changed over the years, its intent hasn't: Deliver an onslaught of music at reasonable price.

Tuesday in Bonner Springs, from before noon until after sunset, more than 8,000 fans watched more than 100 bands perform on nine stages set up in the parking lot outside Cricket Wireless Amphitheater and on the main stage inside the venue.

The tour was founded as part of the skateboarding culture and, early on, featured primarily punk and ska bands. It has since evolved into something broader: a showcase of music styles, including hard-core punk, pop, ska, metalcore, glam-metal, hip-hop.

The parking lot stages were set up so that noise from one didn't overwhelm the sound at another. The two main parking lot stages, set up side by side, alternated sets, which lasted 30 minutes or so.

There were places to stand amid the stages and the dozens of merchandise tents and vendor booths where the sounds met and conspired in a torrent of noise, primarily jackhammer guitars and screamed Cookie Monster vocals.

Metalcore isn't Warped's only flavor, but it is its most abundant and most obvious. Several of those bands drew big crowds all afternoon. Bring Me the Horizon, a British group, incited scream-alongs to songs like "Shadow Moses" and "Chelsea Smile"; Chiodos, a Flint, Mich., band sang titles like "There's No Penguins in Alaska" and "Baby, You Wouldn't Last a Minute on the Creek"; August Burns Red, Christian metalcorists, played a furious early afternoon set that included the incendiary "Provisions," the lead track off its latest album; and Silverstein, which sweetened its hardcore sound with doses of more mainstream punk and emo on songs like "Stand Amid the Roar" and "SOS."

Kansas City was represented by the Beautiful Bodies and rapper Mac Lethal. Their sets were scheduled concurrently yet they drew healthy and rowdy crowds to two of the smaller parking lot stages.

The Bodies draw fair comparisons to Paramore, but the group's songs have more pop and a more serrated edge. It's invigorating stuff. And Bodies' live vibe is inflamed by the motions and antics of lead singer Alicia Solombrino and guitarist Thomas Becker, who like to make the crowd part of their act.

Mac Lethal showed off his considerable skills as a lyricist, comedian, social commentator and composer of tracks that combine rap with a polyphonic blend of grooves and music styles. He showcased them all during tracks like "Black Widow Spider" and "Calm Down Baby."

Inside the amphitheater, the sounds were geared more toward fans of lighter fare and pop bands like Goldhouse from Chicago, who would fit perfectly on a bill with bands like One Republic or the Fray; All Star Weekend, a California pop/dance band; and Story of the Year, Warped veterans from St. Louis who add pop to their hardcore punk; and Gin Wigmore, a New Zealand singer/songwriter who fuses rock, soul, blues and Americana into an appealing sound.

For the old-school punks, there was Reel Big Fish. Despite the heat in the asphalt parking lot, the group showed up in suits and ties and delivered some jaunty ska numbers, like "Your Guts (Hate 'em)." Billy Talent threw down a set that drew a big crowd ("Fallen Leaves," "Runnin' Across the Tracks," "Red Flag").

One of the biggest and rowdiest crowds showed up to see Black Veil Brides, the glam-metal band from Los Angeles, Calif., that revives the early spirit of Kiss and Motley Crue in its pop-metal/punk anthems. Their shtick was amusing, their songs were hard and catchy and they drew lots of ladies to their set.

It's easy to see why they attract has much derision as they do praise. Amid a torrent of sounds that often seemed to blend in to one, they were memorable, however.

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to tfinn@kcstar.com.

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(c)2013 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

Visit The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at www.kansascity.com

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