Warped Tour falls flat but locals keep the party going

A review of the Vans Warped Tour at the Comcast Center on July 19, 2012

, Contributing Writer

Anyone who has been to Warped Tour in the past will tell you that there is an energy there that cannot quite be described. It comes up from the ground and down from the sun, coursing through the throngs of fans and the artists on stage, creating one massive party. This year, however, that energy was sorely missed as a mediocre turnout and lack of passion made for a rather dull afternoon when the Vans Warped Tour stopped in Mansfield on Thursday.

Each year, the tour features elements of the past, present, and future of the punk/rock/metal genres and more while making sure to bring local talent into the mix as well.

For the “past” acts like veterans The Used, Taking Back Sunday, and New Found Glory had a hard time finding their footing with the young crowd on hand. Yellowcard, for example, put on a show with a variety of old and new tunes (with plenty of new material since they’re about to release a third album in the last 18 months). Yet in spite of their rocking out on the violin, the crowd never really became absorbed in the group’s music – mainly because many of them didn’t know it.

The “present” acts fared slightly better. We The Kings’s slightly more low-key vibe fit the mood as the sun began to go down, but lead singer Travis Clark’s own energy and excitement lead to plenty of dancing and singing among the crowd. Although the crowd made sure to move during their new hit single “Party Fun Love and Radio”, many were young enough that ever a cover of Jimmy Eat World smash hit “The Middle” was a mystery to them. All Time Low unfortunately suffered through one of the first time slots of the day, meaning that many latecomers completely missed their set. That didn’t stop those who were there from getting down to early classics like “Jasey Rae” or the group’s newest song “The Reckless and The Brave”, promoting lead singer Alex Gaskarth to declare “Boston is DTF right now.”

Later that day in an interview backstage with Boston Music Spotlight, All Time Low lead guitarist Jack Barakat explained why he felt Boston has been such a supportive city for the group. “One of the best parts about Boston is that when we started touring we were in a van with our parents and we couldn’t really go that far, so Boston was one of the first places we played that wasn’t that far from our house,” said the Baltimore native. “We have some fans who have been seeing us in Boston for eight years. I think that’s why our fanbase here is so strong.”

The “future” groups have always been one of the best parts of Warped Tour, both for the fans to discover new music and for the artists’ ability to get their name out. We Are The In Crowd sounded like All Time Low with a female lead singer. They didn’t draw an enormous crowd but those that did check out the band’s set, were clearly very passionate, chanting along to the band’s bigger single “Kiss Me Again”. Breathe Carolina drew one of the biggest audiences to the amphitheater, combining many sounds like the classic punk-rock roots of Warped with the newer additions to the tour like electro-dance. The dynamic duo ruled the stage, hitting their stride with the radio-played “Blackout”.

Without fail, what makes the Warped Tour’s stop in Massachusetts each year so special is watching the local talent shine. This year proved to be no exception. Worcester’s Four Year Strong had numerous attendees wearing their merchandise throughout the day all of whom showed up to create a rather ruckus crowd for the band’s end of the day set. Electro-pop duo Young London brought their unique flair to the Silent Disco stage and embraced the hometown vibe.

“It’s really different,” said Young London’s Sarah Graziani in a post-set interview. “It’s just been Matt and I all summer so it’s crazy today we have friends here… It’s awesome playing for new people too but it’s so cool to look out and see people, they’re like your forever.” Matt Rhodes added that after tweeting with the local supporters for so long, the pair felt “star-struck” seeing their fans in person.

Fellow Boston natives A Loss For Words tore up the stage during their mid-afternoon set, bringing a high energy that filled the amphitheater and had countless individuals attempting to crowd-surf in the pit. Chatting with lead singer Matt Arsenault before the show, however, revealed he was feeling the pressure.

“It’s awesome to be here, I’m stoked to the play the show,” he said before adding, “But it’s also stressful trying to entertain your family and your friends… it’s good and bad. It’s stressful because you know more people but it’s fun when you play the show.”

The 2012 edition of the Vans Warped Tour technically had everything a Warped Tour should, with artists new and old, local and national, playing side by side on stages across the Comcast Center – the only thing missing from a true Massachusetts date of the tour was the rain (although it was not missed). Yet, something was still missing; that special, slightly frenetic but always exciting energy that Warped brings when it comes to town was gone. Let’s hope that in future years, it can find that intangible thing again that makes Warped Tour such a unique experience.

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