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So Sorry, Its Over: A Look At The Final Vans Warped Tour

So Sorry, Its Over: A Look At The Final Vans Warped Tour

All good things must come to an end. As cliché as that may sound, truer words have never been spoken. Often time long running events overstay their welcome and eventually become a shadow of their former self. Now, although many old school Warped Tour fans would like to say the tour was well past its prime, I would say that the tour was continuing to meet its purpose.

The Warped Tour was originally brought to fruition by Kevin Lyman in 1995, and received the official Vans sponsorship in 96. While folks will forever protest that the Vans Warped Tour has always been a “punk festival”, I’ve always viewed it as a celebration of alternative genres and a way for newer acts to reach an audience. While those early years focused on the punk genre there were also many notable acts from across the musical solar system. The “punk-rock summer camp” was more of a tag line than a focus on a singular form of music. Now, a history lesson on the Vans Warped Tour is a story for another day. All you need to know is that the Vans Warped Tour has been the launching pad for hundreds of bands and is a staple for music fans across the country.

My experience with the Vans Warped Tour actually happened a little later in life, my first show being the 2010 edition. The eclectic mix of punk and metal was, pun intended, music to my 18 year old ears. Why had it taken me this long to reach the “promise land”? Since that fateful day at Merriweather Post-Pavilion I’ve attended 6 out of the 8 tours that followed, alternating between the Columbia, Maryland and Camden, New Jersey shows. I’ve discovered countless bands throughout my years attending the tour, many of which have become favorites of mine. Bands/artists like Every Time I Die, Ballyhoo, Yelawolf, MC Lars, Vanna (RIP) and many others are bands I discovered on Warped Tour and bands that remain in constant rotation today. No matter the lineup, it was always important to make it out to the show as you never knew what you might discover. It was something to look forward to every summer.

On November 15th, 2017 Kevin Lyman announced that the 2018 Vans Warped Tour would be the final cross country tour of the brand’s lifetime. The reasoning behind this decision saw Lyman discussing falling ticket sales amongst the tours prime demographic (teenagers) and the fact that he’s just tired. This is completely understandable as the man has technically been doing cross-country tours for 26 years. The news was devastating. This incredible thing that I had discovered less than ten years prior, and others have been attending for over twenty years, was going away. It is truly the end of an era.

Fast forward to the summer of 2018. The bands, an eclectic mix of first timers and veterens, have all been announced. There was no way any sane person could miss this event. Even if you weren’t a fan of the lineup, the Vans Warped Tour had been a staple for all fans of alternative genres, how could you miss the LAST one. So, it was decided, I was adventuring out to where it all started for me. On July 29th, 2018 I attended the Final Vans Warped Tour at the Merriweather Post-Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland.

As stated earlier, I spent a few Warped years attending the Camden, NJ show as I found parking to be much easier and the overall aesthetic to be much more pleasing. However, with it being the last hooray I knew where I needed to go. As I pulled into the parking garage it was easy to see that today was going to be special. Thousands of “kids” were lined up to get into the venue, a number that honestly dwarfed the amount of patrons lined up in years prior. Sure, in years past the venue eventually filled out, but you could tell that this year no one wanted to miss a second. I quickly checked in, grabbed my photo pass/ticket, and retrieved a spot in line. For the first time that I can remember, the doors opened 30 minutes early. Now, at Warped Tour the doors are usually scheduled to open at 11:00. From my experience, this has always been true, not a minute before or minute after. I welcomed the 10:30 surprise and made my way into the venue.

I quickly realized just how different this show was going to be compared to last. According to multiple merch workers, the venue decided that it didn’t want anyone to use the “woods” area of Merriweather Post-Pavilion. This was mind blowing; they had always used the woods area and the field on the other side. This allowed for easy movement and 0 congestion amongst many of the stages. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, by removing this portion of the venue they’ve essentially halved the available space. It was noticeable. Overall many of the stages were cramped with the Monster Energy/Mutant Stages being placed on the parking lot, practically turning attendees into fried eggs. Listen, I understand these are small complaints, but I just can’t wrap my brain around why things worked a certain way every other year and were different this year. One attendee mentioned that it may have been a reaction based upon the pavilion collapse at the beginning of the year, however, the adjustments that were made were nowhere near where the accident had taken place. Nonetheless, these are all complaints about the venue itself and their handling of the event, not Warped Tour as a whole. So let’s move on.

For those of you unfamiliar with how the Vans Warped Tour works, let me explain. No one is aware of the set times until you arrive at the show. Once you enter the gates there is a big inflatable schedule in the center that displays the times. There are also multiple vendors selling schedules for about $2 each. It’s definitely a stressful method that always keeps me up the night prior. I always end up wide awake the night before, stressed I’m going to sleep through my alarm and miss that “one special band”. This has never happened, but I stressed out about it yearly.

Once I received my schedule my first destination was decided. I made my way over to the Mutant Red Dawn stage to catch Australian metalcore band, The Amity Affliction. The band got their start in 2003 and first popped on my radar in 2012 with the release of “Chasing Ghosts”. I admit my knowledge of the Aussie trio is very limited. I came across the boys around the time I was stepping away from the metalcore genre as a whole. I felt it had become a bit oversaturated with countless bands sounding too similar to one another. Unfortunately I didn’t give The Amity Affliction a fair shot at the time, but I am thankful to say that that has changed in recent years. Being the first band of the day you’d think it would take Ahren Stringer and Joel Birch a minute to warm up, but to hell with that. As soon as they took the stage they busted out into a blistering rendition of the title track off their fifth album, “This Could Be Heartbreak”. The rest of the set contained tracks throughout the band’s career, closing with one of their larger songs, “Pittsburgh”. The Amity Affliction have a new album, Misery, dropping on the 24thof August and you won’t regret picking it up!

At this point I took off towards one of the main stages, the Journey Right Foot stage in order to catch The Maine. Having played the festival 6 times, the Arizona band is always one I try my best to catch. Their infectious pop rock grooves are catchy enough to get even the hardest of metal heads dancing. Honestly, it is crazy how these guys having completely blown up. They’ve got the skills to write pop hits for days and damn do they know how to put on a show. Lead singer, John O’Callaghan always has the audience in the palm of his hands. He says jump, the crowd screams, “how high?!”. The band called The Maine played songs across their decade long career. The highlight definitely being when O’Callaghan pulled an audience member on stage to join him in singing “Girls Do What They Want”. Unfortunately I’ve never seen The Maine outside of Warped Tour, and that definitely needs to change soon.

During the show there was another festival happening in Philadelphia known as “This is Hardcore”. Obviously I wasn’t able to be there so I had to figure out another way to get my hardcore fix. Enter, Kublai Khan. Kublai Khan is a band I hadn’t heard much of in the past, but I knew I wanted to check out. Their downtuned guitars and slow, but heavy grooves had me two-stepping all over the photo pit. If there is anything that annoys me about being in the photo pit, it’s that everyone in there just looks pissed off to be there. What’s there to be mad about? You’ve got a front row spot, you more than likely were able to get in for free, and your work is going to get posted and recognized by other music fans across the globe. Hey, why not have some fun while you’re doing it!? That’s what I did. Kublai Khan put out their latest record, “Nomad” last September. Check it out!

Next up was hands down the wild card of the festival. The night prior I had been researching a few artists on the lineup I had never heard before. I came across the artist known as Yungblud. I was completely enthralled within seconds. Between the visuals, the lyrics, and the varying genres that weave in and out of one another, I couldn’t help but be fascinated. I can happily say that this was increased tenfold when I witnessed it live. I would describe Yungblud, real name Dominic Harrison, as Twenty One Pilots meets MIA with a big glass of IDGAF attitude. While Dom played one of the smaller stages of the day, you’d never realize it. The crowd was packed into this stage like sardines. The place went wild as the 19 year old hit the stage and there wasn’t a body standing still in sight. Yungblud just released his debut album, “21stCentury Liability” on July 6th. If you take away anything from this write up it should be to go pick up that album!

We’re a few hours into the day, but there is no time to rest. Next up we have Warped Tour legends, and one of my favorite bands of all time: Less Than Jake! Honestly, what can I say about Less Than Jake that I haven’t said before? They’ve been going strong for 25+ years and show no signs of stopping. They opened the show with “All my Best Friends are Metal Heads” and that was all she wrote. What followed was 30 minutes of ska punk greatness that only Less Than Jake can provide.

At this point I headed over to the second main stage, the Journey’s Left Foot stage which was for some reason not next to the Right Foot stage like it had been in years past. When I arrived at the Left Foot stage a wave of fear crashed over me. This was not enough room for the amount of people who would be filling this space later (which we’ll get to). Regardless, the next band to take the stage were some high school favorites of mine, 3OH!3. 3OH!3 is an electropop duo that got their start in 2004. They hit it big with 2008’s “Want”, releasing hits Don’t Trust Me and Starstrukk (both tracks having remixes that feature Kid Cudi and Katy Perry respectively). When I felt that some of their later albums started having a jokey vibe in the vein of The Lonely Island I stopped listening. That being said, Sean and Nat absolutely killed it. Much of the setlist focused on the band’s early work which was right up my alley. 3OH!3’s latest release, “Night Sports” is available now from Fueled By Ramen.

Now it’s time for a band I never thought I’d see on Warped Tour. I’ve covered them multiple times before, and it’s always a pleasure. I’m talking about, of course, the demented duo TWIZTID. If you’re a usual visitor here at Icon Vs Icon then you know my history with this band. I went into a long tangent of my experience in the Juggalo world back when I covered Twiztid’s Psychomania tour, check it out because it’s a great read! A quick refresher: since leaving Psychopathic records Twiztid has been doing huge things! They’ve received opportunities they could only dream of in years prior. Not to mention they’ve started their own label with some of the best names in underground hip hop. Twiztid is going strong, and they’re definitely not stopping. Also, no surprise here, they absolutely killed it! I was truly curious as to what tracks they would choose for the setlist. While the crowd was filled with juggalos it was also filled with people whose curiosity led them to the Mutant Red Dawn stage this afternoon. I was happy to see that they played tracks that spanned their entire career. Anyone that thinks the demented duo is hurting in recent years either isn’t paying attention or is in serious denial. The crowd was packed and I can’t wait to see where they go from here.

A change of pace was needed so I made my way back to the main stage for some ska goodness. The next band to grace my ears was The Interrupters. I’ve had the pleasure of catching this group of fine folks three times, the last being in Ohio at “Punk In Drublic”. While the crowd was a bit lighter, it definitely filled in as the band took the stage. Aimee Interrupter has such an infectious smile that it is impossible to be upset when they’re playing. Leave your cares at the door and get ready to skank because by the end of their set we were all one big family! The Interrupters just released their newest album “Fight the Good Fight” on June 29thfrom Hellcat Records.

What happened next is what I was worried about in this small space. The night before Warped Tour, founder Kevin Lyman had tweeted about Maryland having a very special guest. Well this was it. Maryland was greeted by hometown heroes, Good Charlotte. GC is no stranger when it comes to Warped Tour having played the festival 3 times prior. No surprise, they came out and the crowd went absolutely nuts. We were definitely at capacity when it came to this area of the festival, and it was definitely poor planning on the venue’s part. Nevertheless, Good Charlotte ran through every hit they could in their short time set. Joel mentioned after playing the opener, “The Anthem”, that they wouldn’t be talking much as they wanted to get through as many tracks as possible. They achieved just that. These guys haven’t lost a step. Good Charlotte has a new album out on September 18th.

During the Good Charlotte set, my younger sister had gotten hurt in the crowd. We went and sat down a little bit, tired and hungry. Unfortunately the next band that played would be the last I would see on the Vans Warped Tour, but how appropriate that that band would be Reel Big Fish. Reel Big Fish is a band I’ve seen over 15 times. I grew up listening to them and I’ve been attending their shows ever since I was old enough to go. There is nothing in this world like a Reel Big Fish show. While Aaron Barrett may be the only original member left in the band his eye/ear for talent has kept the band going for 27 years. They tour nonstop but play every show like it’s going to be their last. Here’s the thing with an RBF show, you know what you’re going to hear, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Reel Big Fish played all of their well-known tracks, well…well known to their fans. I cannot recommend checking out Reel Big Fish anymore than I already have in the past. If you want an incredible time, go see Reel Big Fish!

So that was the end of it. No one in my party felt well after spending all day in the heat so we decided to cut our day short. The only band I am really disappointed I missed was Every Time I Die. So here’s a hypothetical review of that show: it was great, they’re always great, go and see them.

Well there it is! That was the Final Vans Warped Tour. Life will never be the same without this cross-country tour being in my life every summer. Kevin Lyman announced that something will be done next year, for the tour’s 25thanniversary, but this is the FINAL cross-country tour. It’s bitter sweet really. It’s sad that it’s over, but it feels great to reminisce about all the incredible memories. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

About The Writer: 
Dylan Lyles – Staff Writer
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles is an obsessive fan of cinema, pro wrestling, horror, vinyl, and comic books. Bursting from the womb in 1992, Dylan’s surrounded himself with all things geek culture. Earliest memories include Wrestlemania 11, ‘The Death of Superman,’ and Jason popping out of the waters of Camp Crystal Lake. He worships at the alter of the the alter of Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla. You may see him sharing his opinion on just about everything on the internet or maybe even working the various pop culture conventions on the east coast. Most importantly,vyou love him and he loves you!
Twitter: @thedylanlyles

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No Doubt Celebrates 25th Anniversary Of Their Self-Titled Debut Album With Special Vinyl Reissue!

No Doubt Celebrates 25th Anniversary Of Their Self-Titled Debut Album With Special Vinyl Reissue!

No Doubt‘s eponymous 1992 debut album introduced the world to a one-of-a-kind band that would soon dominate the music world with their dynamic sound. With such early hits as “Trapped In A Box” exemplifying the group’s original ska-pop sound, No Doubt kicked off the band’s career with a bang, laying the groundwork for the   multi-platinum success that they’d achieve over the next twenty-plus years.

On November 10, UMe celebrates the 25th anniversary of No Doubt’s original release with a sparkling new vinyl edition of the album that originally put No Doubt on the map. In addition to marking the debut disc’s first-ever vinyl release, the new LP will be pressed on high-quality 180-gram vinyl. Additionally, exclusive limited-edition colored-vinyl versions will be available through No Doubt’s official website, as well as the online retail sites uDiscover and The Sound of Vinyl. In addition to the album’s original front cover art, the back cover of the new vinyl edition features a never-before-seen band photo from the original photo session by photographer Chris Cuffaro.

No DoubtGwen Stefani on vocals, her brother Eric Stefani on keyboards, guitarist Tom Dumont, bassist Tony Kanal and drummer Adrian Young—originally became a local sensation on their Southern California home turf, before bursting onto the national and international scenes with an effervescent, new-wave infused sound that offered an upbeat alternative to the angst-driven grunge-rock that dominated the charts at the time. No Doubt’s early ska leanings are balanced on the album by a state-of-the-art pop sensibility that manifests itself on such tunes as “Let’s Get Back,” “Move On” and “Get On The Ball.” Although the debut album was not a major hit at the time of its original release, it emerged as a fan favorite as No Doubt subsequently became one of their era’s most popular bands.

After releasing No Doubt, the band would score a series of smash singles and massively popular  albums like Tragic Kingdom, Return of Saturn, Rock Steady and Push and Shove, helping to secure  Gwen, Tony, Tom and Adrian their place in the American rock music pantheon. The band’s massive success can be traced back to No Doubt, whose definitive new vinyl edition cements its pivotal place in pop history.

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Concert Review: Reel Big Fish Invade Baltimore Soundstage!

Concert Review: Reel Big Fish Invade Baltimore Soundstage!

I don’t think it takes an expert to notice that last week was long, exhausting, and hellish. With the election of a new president there were nonsensical things being said from both sides of the coin. I don’t know about anyone else but I was just ready for the whole thing to be over. Thankfully, Thursday night held a silver lining. Reel Big Fish, a band I had seen between 10-15 times would be playing their second full length record ‘Turn the Radio Off’ in its entirety. This is an album that affected my life the first time I heard it. It opened my eyes to incredible ska bands and eventually the punk rock world as a whole. I could not pass up the chance to go see one of my favorite albums being played from beginning to end. It definitely helped that DC ska legends, The Pietasters were also on the bill! So here we go, an honest review of the show I experienced on Thursday, November 10th.

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Leading up to the show I noticed constant posts by Baltimore Soundstage that tickets were going fast, so you could understand the shock on my face when I entered a three quarters empty venue that night. I was honestly bummed out. Most of the RBF shows I’ve attended have been a packed house and tonight they were playing their greatest album. WHERE WAS EVERYONE!? Thankfully by the time the local openers began, the place had filled out.

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The first band up was Joint Operation. These guys, from Baltimore, MD, of course, really surprised me. On this side of the coast we have a surprising amount of…”white kid reggae” bands. This includes Bumpin Uglies, Pasadena, Ballyhoo!, etc. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love each of these bands but there’s beginning to be an overabundance of them. Joint Operation took the local “reggae” sound and gave it their own spin. Honestly, Josh Lewis’s vocals reminded me of Todd Fausnacht of Philly reggae band, The Snails. According to the band this was their biggest show to date and I can’t wait to see where they go from here!

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Next up was the ska-rock band Stacked Like Pancakes. Much like Joint Operation, these guys are also from Baltimore, however, they’ve established a pretty decent sized following opening up for RBF on the entire tour and a stint on the Vans Warped Tour. It was a decent performance, but I feel like I’m personally growing out of the usual Reel Big Fish-type ska rock sound. It’s not for me much anymore. I like my ska to be a bit punkier much like the legendary Less Than Jake. Do not get me wrong, these guys are very talented musicians, but the sound isn’t for me anymore. I’m not too familiar with their work so I’ll definitely delve a little deeper before I pass on them altogether.

Now at this point I received a text from my girlfriend informing me there was an anti-Trump protest happening right outside. That mixed with the gameday traffic I was sure to face made me incredibly antsy. I’m already tired; as someone who works in education, weekday concerts aren’t as fun as they used to be but I’m still holding my head up!

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The following performance was the stand out of the night next to the main event. Legendary DC ska band the Pietasters came and rocked the house. I was a bit disappointed in the crowd as they weren’t ready for that classic ska sound. On other shows true pop punk band Masked Intruder were the direct openers but I believe their upcoming show at Soundstage with the Bouncing Souls prevented them from being able to perform. In my opinion, as much as I love Intruder, it was an excellent replacement. Through all my tiredness and worries I was skankin’ across the dancefloor with the biggest smile on my face. I love the old school ska sound that these guys have always brought to the table and Thursday night was no different. Last time I saw the Pietasters was a surprise show they did with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. They kill it every time and I hope they come back soon.

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Alright….this was it! The main event of the evening. As I stated before, I had seen Reel Big Fish well into the double digits but they were about to play my favorite album from beginning to end. The guys come out to a thunderous applause and kick into “I Want Your Girlfriend to Be Mine”…..a song not on “Turn the Radio Off”. I can honestly say that I was disappointed. I thought I had read the flyer wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I love that song and RBF killed it as always but I began to get worried that this wasn’t what I had came to see. From then on they played “The Kids Don’t Like It”, “Thank You For Not Moshing”, and “I Hate Your Guts”. By the time they began their 5th song, “F.U.” I was ready to head to the back and enjoy a normal RBF show away from the crowd…….but then it happened. Aaron got on the mic and said, “I’m sure you guys saw the advertisement for this show…..it’s been 20 years since the release of “Turn the Radio Off”, and we’re going to play the entire thing for you right now. Even the bad songs!”

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I was in heaven! My favorite album kicking in with their only radio hit, “Sell Out”. They rocked the house from beginning to end. Of course, they took “Beer” from its position in the album and moved it to the end. This is completely understandable as next to “Sell Out” it’s probably their biggest song. Trying to beat game day I left half way through that last song. The album was over and I was sure that I had heard the encore songs a thousand times live. However, for anyone seeing them for one of the first times, any RBF show is worth getting up front and personal for.

So that’s it. That was my experience at the “Turn the Radio Off” album show. As previously stated, I’ve seen Reel Big Fish almost 15 times. They’re one of my favorite bands of all time and I can pretty much guarantee that I will see them again and again. As a matter of fact, they’ll be back here in January for another round of the “Turn the Radio Off” album. After the end of this current TTRO tour they will be co-headlining with Anti-Flag as they play their 20 year old classic “Die for the Government” as well. It should be a great show and you can catch it all over the country starting in January. Direct support includes Ballyhoo!, Direct Hit, and PkewPkewPkew.

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About The Writer: 
Dylan Lyles – Staff Writer
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles is an obsessive fan of cinema, pro wrestling, horror, vinyl, and comic books. Bursting from the womb in 1992, Dylan’s surrounded himself with all things geek culture. Earliest memories include Wrestlemania 11, ‘The Death of Superman,’ and Jason popping out of the water. You may see him sharing his opinion on just about everything on the internet or maybe even working the MonsterMania Con on the east coast. You love him and he loves you!
Twitter: @thedylanlyles

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Neville Staple of The Specials To Release New Album, ‘Ska Crazy!’

Neville Staple of The Specials To Release New Album, ‘Ska Crazy!’

Ska Crazy!

Ska Crazy!

The Original Rude Boy returns! Neville Staple, charismatic vocalist/toaster for one of the most celebrated 2 Tone ska bands ever, The Specials, reclaims his place in the spotlight with a triumphant new album to be released on Cleopatra Records on May 13. Entitled Ska Crazy!, the album features phenomenal cover versions of ska/reggae classics by Prince Buster (“Time Longer Than Rope”), The Slickers (“Johnny Too Bad”), and Max Romeo (“Wet Dream”) plus brand new compositions including “Rude Boy Returns,” “Girl,” and the gritty single “Roadblock,” which will make its worldwide debut in a professionally shot music video that premieres on the syndicated music/pop culture webzine Something Else! this coming Monday, April 28.

From the cinematic opening scenes of urban decay filmed in Neville’s hometown Coventry, England, the video bristles with tension as the song’s melodic hook, a killer horn-guitar combo riff, pulsates over shots of graffiti walls and CCTV cameras, like the title sequence to a lost season of The Wire. The dramatic plot of the video, a drug deal that erupts in violence, unfolds as Neville and fellow toaster Daddy Woody act as a Greek chorus warning against youthful hubris. Director Joseph Wallace comments, “I wanted to film a video that approached the subject of street crime seriously, yet still very much retaining the relaxed mood and chilled tone of the music. I wanted Neville walking through Coventry’s cold, empty streets at night singing to the camera as though almost preaching his message; weaving in and out of the narrative itself and blurring the line between performance and social issues.” The video was produced by Rawline Entertainment.

Catch the video premiere here> 

Staple enthuses about the album, “I am so pleased and proud to have put this album together as it includes some old time classic favourites, which I grew up with and which I have added some ‘original rudeboy’ flavour to. My current band are brilliant and they put a lot of time into creating that authentic Jamaican sound with me, that you will hear in the tracks, as well as helping me with the creation of brand new material. You will also hear a lot of vocals from my wife Christine and my good friend and Jamaican DJ artist, Daddy Woody. I hope you all love it as much as I do and I’m dedicating the album to Jerry Dammers and my cousin Alvin who helped me on the way to a career in music.”

To pre-order the CD or vinyl on Amazon: http://georiot.co/3u10

To pre-order the digital album on iTunes: http://georiot.co/21ea

For the latest information on Staple, visit: https://www.facebook.com/NevilleStapleBand

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