Show: Vans Warped Tour 2011
Date: July 1, 2011
City: Pomona, CA
Vans Warped Tour 2011
Written by Michelle Oberg
Photos by Nicolas Bates
The hardest part about Warped Tour is undeniably the heat. But, the post-hardcore metal band Woe, is Me certainly got the shit end of the deal with their set time at Pomona. Dressed in all black and facing the sun for the hottest part of the day, and on the only stage that rest atop black pavement, they played an intense set to a wild and crazy crowd.
Patrons huddled tight to the stage and some ducked for cover under the half-foot width awning on the small building adjacent the stage. Woe, Is Me frontmen Derek Carter and Michael Bohn had an off-beat start—blame it on the weather—that was almost like a broken record. They redeemed themselves throughout the performance with their volumized energy. The seven-member line up acted upon their animalistic instincts by climbing rafters and jumping as if they were prepping to blast off into the sun.
They threw their own twist on pop sensation Katy Perry's hit "Hot n Cold" that thrust the crowd into a mosh-pitted rage. Surprisingly, this industrial bunch found inspiration in Katy's tune and spectators also knew the lyrics. Looks like you can't judge a book by its cover because there were some secret pop fans lingering behind their black mascara and hardcore façade. Not to mention their other cover, Ke$ha's "Tik Tok."
The extreme Wall of Death [mosh pit] was commanded upon the minions by the frontmen and those who were still standing happily obliged, going overboard with their antics. "Our Numbers" had great hooks and vocals while the screams were solid. Their last number, "Delinquents," kept fans around to the very last note where they walked off stage most likely exhausted and even more likely to prompt these hard partiers to start their hydrating early. By hydrating, I mean boozing, but it is well deserved for the performance they put on.
Unwritten Law's latest album Swan is painstakingly well done, making their appearance at Warped Tour a must see. Frontman and guitarist Scott Russo hasn't lost those boyish looks and certainly knows how to make the girls panties drop with his raspy voice. A wild crowd causes a few injuries as they bum rush the smaller stage and spill out into other artist's stages.
Playing tunes like "Up All Night" and "Nevermind" keep us on our feet between jumping (of course) to the beats. The band gave their all and replicated their recorded material live. The two most requested songs the fans wanted to hear were "Seein' Red" and "Save Me." Obliging the fans, Law supplied the masses.
The first single off Swan, "Starships and Apocalypse," was one successfully performed song. Seeing Law at Warped Tour, especially for SoCal residents, is what you expect from the festival. While they aren't an average punk band, and realistically fall into the category of alt rock, they represent everything that is summer-Cali style. Either we missed something at their show, or it truly didn't happen, but the only disappointment that came with their set was Big B not joining the quartet on stage. Scott and Big B's long-standing relationship of collaboration is always a smash hit. B was performing his own set from his latest album Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes (which RUKUS spotlight reviewed) later in the day.
Unwritten Law's set was executed to the best of their ability that day. Scott and his entourage that make up Unwritten Law do what they do even when obstacles get thrust in their direction (e.g.102 degrees of desert heat) and march to the beat of their own drum. Luckily, their dedicated and loyal followers like this characteristic, and frankly so do I. Their music is rad and their attitude matches. We will certainly keep buying the albums if they keep making them.
Since RUKUS's interview with Lionize a few month back, we've become fans and friends with this laid-back bunch of soulful rockers who probably would've enjoyed playing in the '60s. They went into Warped stoked to find out that they'd be on the entire festival thanks to, not just their talent, but Kevin Lyman as well. Sharing a bus with The Aggrolites, they quickly made friends and put their best foot forward.
After the posse cooled off on their tour bus between catching shows, we walked with them to the stage as the ensemble set forth ready to rock. Most of the festival-goers were not too well-versed with their reggae/classic rock sound, so they got off to a slow start. But, patrons heard the smooth sounds of guitars, organs, percussion and the soulfully sexy voice of Bergman from afar and made their way over to the stage for a front and center show.
Between long guitar solos as transitioning pieces into the next tune, and watching Henry Upton (bass) literally feel his music, the only non-English dictionary word I can think to describe them with is: redonkulous! Watching Upton play is like watching Stevie Wonder play; you can see the music coursing through him. Chris Brooks' (organ) fingers move so quickly and he utilizes as many keys as he possibly can, creating sounds that the grannies in churches wish they were capable of creating even after 50 years in the trade. Drum solos are single handedly my favorite attribute of a band's instrumentals. With LaMel Randolph behind the skins, the talented artists that have come before him are easily forgotten. With a straight face throughout the set, Randolph beats his skins to a muddled mess.
Lionize played as many songs as possible off their latest album, Destruction Manual, and did absolutely no talking aside from the occasional "thank you" here and there. Do you love them yet? It's all music, all the time for these guys.
The dynamic each member has with each is just as apparent on stage as it is off. They might as well be brothers with the amount of respect they have for each other; and this translates into their music. If all artists believed in their music and each other as much as Lionize does, than we very well might live in an alternate universe. I love this truly rare characteristic about them and what makes them a top ten pick of favorite artists of today. If you haven't heard their music, check it out at www.lionizemusic.com. Their feel-good music and fresh style for the times is unbelievably awe-inspiring. While jamming to their tunes you'll find yourself smoking a doobie with Gregory Isaacs in no time…well the latter part is probably a result of the weed.
Labeled as one of the top ten must-see bands on Warped Tour 2011, Moving Mountains is just that. With the ever-evolving line up as the years march on, Kevin Lyman, founder of Warped Tour, knows how to stay relevant to the times. Years ago we expected to see the punk pandemic take its hold but now the festival features everything from the originating genre plus alt rock and reggae artists.
Gregory Dunn (vocals/guitar) pens all his emotional lyrics solo, but on stage with his band, it is a collaborative, non-stop hit-pumping machine. Greg is like an energy drink in human form as he jumps off the bass drum repeatedly throughout the set, never losing site of his vocals and delivery. Frank Graniero (guitar) offered up a long intro but watching him break it down is even more impressive with his jump kicks and metal-esque persona, strumming his better half from atop his head. Obviously the advice that comes from most mother's of "watch what you're doing" need not apply. Just blindfold Graniero and that would be the ultimate rock star move.
The band reached its full capacity just a mere 3 years ago where Graniero and Mitchell Lee (bass) finalized their line up. Warped Tour is their first festival where they can perform their first full studio album, Waves (released May 10th, 2011), as a whole.
Watching the band play their heart out keeps one more than just content. Greg has a "low-talk" style of vocal delivery when he so chooses, but can sing and scream with the best of them while Lee, Graniero and Nicholas Pizzolato (drums) play as if they're playing to a sold out Los Angeles Staples Center audience.
This indie rock band was brought into a world that they don't quite fit into. They are more the type to fill a tent at Coachella, but they impressed nonetheless. So much so that Kevin Lyman has them playing every Warped Tour date of the tour.
Aside from Warped Tour, they will continue to go on touring after the festival come to a halt, so check out their website at www.movmou.com for more info.
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