Warped Tour Columbia, Md. review

Well, my whirlwind week has wrapped up and I’m back into a more normal schedule. I went to the Morven Park and Oatlands mansions on Sunday  the 31st since I’d never actually been through them. I took some photos and will try to get those posted soon. This past week, I had the Trilogy saddle fitter finally come out and get Oh So’s measurements for his new dressage saddle. Now to wait 8-16 weeks…

I also wrote up a review of my Warped Tour experience–

The Ready Set

The Vans Warped Tour made it’s annual stop in Columbia, Md. at Merriweather Post Pavillion on July 24. We’ve been having an unusually hot July, but a cold front came through just in time to make the day less humid, but still hot.

There’s a lot to like about hosting Warped at Merriweather. It’s a beautifully wooded area with lots of places to sit in the shade, as well as the big ampitheater which hosts two alternating stages. The parking is easy to navigate and the lines move fairly quickly. It’s also conveniently located between Baltimore and D.C./Northern Virginia.

What I hate about Merriweather is the horrible bottleneck that audiences have to pass through to get to the main stage and most of the merch tents. For some reason this year, the Kevin Says stage was located right along the major walkway before the bottleneck. With people hanging around that stage, plus surrounding merch tents, it made for a busy place. There were also merch tents close to and along the bottleneck, making it even tighter to squeeze through. Add to that food and drink vendors with lines extending into the walkway, and frequent closings of one “lane” to allow emergency vehicles and food trucks through, and it felt like rush hour in DC! I got caught in one crowd that literally was not moving for 10 minutes and could have easily been overheated.

The venue also made some other minor changes like not having any tents at all on the lawn area of the ampitheater. I didn’t like that decision because it forced people to walk through the bottleneck to go to signings and meet and greets.

As far as press, they moved the press tent up towards the parking lot, which was fine, but I would love to have a press entrance if possible. We’re there to cover the show, but I seem to always end up missing the first few bands because of the lines.

I’ve always been a fan of Nissan Pavillion (now Jiffy Lube Live). It was convenient for me to get to and I liked the layout of the festival more, but I’ve made the trek to Maryland year after year to experience

Go Radio

what is now my 9th Warped Tour.

It could be that I’m not as immersed in the scene as I used to be, but this year there were only three bands on my must-see list; Go Radio, Relient K and Family Force Five. But Warped Tour is not just about seeing your favorite bands in one place. It’s also about discovering new music. How could you not considering there are eight stages and over 70 bands playing?

I had a rough idea of who I wanted to photograph when I walked through the gates. The three above are in my top 10 favorite bands, but a few bands I like but don’t love were also playing, so I kept myself busy. In years past, I’ve been frustrated because there were so many bands that I loved playing at the same time on different stages. Luckily I didn’t have that problem this year, so I was free to check out some other sets.

My day started with the long trek to the inflatable schedule. In the end, I purchased a list, which was easier to read. Warped Tour created an app this year which I thought was pretty helpful. It had all of the bands listed with some info about them, plus a place to type in the set times of the bands you wanted to see. I still ended up using my good old-fashioned paper list. I shot The Baby Grand first on the Kevin Says stage. They’re a local band from Maryland, and I know the lead singer’s mother Cindy who runs a MusicBox Promotion company and has helped me out with contacts and photo passes in the past. I’d never checked on TBG before and I enjoyed what I heard. They played a great blend of acoustic/pop rock.

Less Than Jake

Since I’m a fan of most pop and pop/rock music, I checked out The Ready Set next. They sounded really good live and I made a note to check them out when I got home. (And in fact I did. I wasn’t feeling the recorded version of them.) They had a pretty big crowd of screaming teenage girls.  Next up was Go Radio, one of my current top 5 favorite bands. Lead singer Jason Lancaster’s powerful voice really translates live and I really enjoyed their set. They played a few songs from their EP “Do Overs And Second Chances” and some newer songs from their full-length Lucky Street.

I stayed put under the pavilion for The Dangerous Summer. They’re also local to Maryland. I’ve seen them a few times before and know that they’re very well reviewed on AP.net, but I never quite got into them. They do a good job live and I recognized some of their songs.

All of the bands I wanted to see were playing on the two stages in the pavilion, but I decided to venture over to the main stage to shoot a couple of bands. This was where I got stuck in the horrible congestion I mentioned earlier. I began to question why I decided to go, but pushed through and made it to the main stage in time to shoot Warped Tour veterans Less Than Jake. I’m not a fan of ska at all, but they had a decent-sized crowd and lots of crowd surfers. After enduring the terrible journey to the main area of the festival, I decided that since there weren’t many or any bands I was familiar with, I’d head back to the relatively cool pavilion.

Relient K was up next. They’re definitely one of my top fives. I’ve listened to them since high school and have seen them countless times. They’re definitely a band that I can say has progressed and matured in their sound since I’ve been a fan, and I like where they’ve gone. They just released a covers EP, but only played “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, which got people jumping. They have such a hugh catalog to choose from, and they went with a couple of tracks from their last two releases.

I stuck around to watch Lucero, who had a country-ish sound. They looked like old-school veterans, and I was surprised to see only one other photographer shooting their set.  I had just enough time to get a couple of shots and went off to the Ernia Ball stage to watch former Taking Back Sunday guitarist Fred Mascherino’s new band Terrible Things. Before this band, Fred had another band called The Color Fred, which I liked  a lot better. Luckily, the band played my favorite TCF song, “Hate to See You Go”, along with some of their current music.

I finished up my day by watching Family Force Five. They really impressed me when I saw them live a year ago. They’ve got infectious beats and a bit of a rap/rock sound that really gets people moving.

Relient K

They came out in Lady Gaga-inspired gallons attached to backpacks, which was odd, but costumes are their thing. It made for some challenging shots, but they took them off by the end of the first song.

Overall, I thought this year’s tour was very diverse, but leaned more towards the hardcore crowd. Therefore, there wasn’t much for me to see, but Warped Tour goes in cycles. It follows general music trends. Last year was more electronic/pop, and in years past it’s been more pop-rock and more sceamo. I think it’s definitely a good barometer of where the scene is currently.

Sometimes I feel like I’m too old to attend Warped Tour, mostly because I’m surrounded by screaming teenage girls and moshing teenage boys. As I was catching my breath, I watched Japanese punk band Peelander-Z bring a young boy, probably seven years old, up on stage. His dad hoisted him up and the band handed him some drumsticks to help them with the song. When the band finished and the boy and his father walked away from the stage grinning, I realized that I’ll never be too old for Warped Tour. It was a big part of my teenage years, and as long as the bands I love continue to play, I’ll keep my summer tradition.

 

You can see many more photos at my website, avoidthescene.com.

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