PART I – Vans Warped Tour Cleveland (Cuyahoga Falls, OH – Blossom Music Center) July 11, 2012
Vans Warped Tour is always a unique experience for all. There is a band to fit every rock genre and then some. This year arguably featured the best lineup in the past few years. I recall walking into Warped Cleveland (aka Cuyahoga Falls) last summer (as well as Cincinnati) not-so-prepared for the 95 degree day, humidity that seemed to last a lifetime, with enough sweat to fill a kiddie pool, but plenty of camera batteries in an excessively heavy camera bag. Thankfully, this year was a bit cooler (85 degrees, I’ll take it!), and I walked into the day telling myself I wasn’t going to shoot as many photos as I did last year. Clearly I was kidding myself! Mid-way through the day and while highlighting my old school paper stage schedule along the way I realized shooting anything less than thirteen bands again was impossible. Running on adrenaline, countless water bottles refills, a well timed mid-afternoon Monster Energy drink, and handful of trail mix, and I was in my prime. Running from stage to stage, catching partial sets and singing in photo pits along the way, I was in my element.
Last year I had the good fortune to spend some time with Feed Our Children Now, a non-profit dedicated to working with families and children to create a better future through food drives and donations. FOCN has two booths this year, one outside the Warped gates to collect canned food, money, and cell phone donations, as well as a brand new second tent inside the gates. I spent some time with the wonderful FOCN volunteers before heading inside the gates to immerse myself in all the Warped action.
The first part of the day went rather quickly and I found myself checking out bands that I already know and love as well as some I’ve never had the opportunity to experience before. The very first set of the day I caught was Senses Fail. Those guys know how to start the day right, some jumping, crazy crowd surfing, and even a beer chug mid-set. As soon as I got the shot of lead singer Buddy Nielsen suspended in mid-air during the third song, I knew it was going to be a great day. Enjoying the remainder of the set side-stage and getting mesmerized by drummer Dan Trapp’s double bass pedals was the icing on the cake.
The second set I watched was Tonight Alive. I’ve been fortunate enough to catch these Aussie natives before and they bring a unique energy to the stage. Lead singer Jenna McDougall always creates an intense connection with the crowd and had everyone nodding and jumping along, especially when she stood atop the barricade at the end of the set, held up by fan hands.
The next set I caught was Anti-Flag on the main Kia Rio Stage under the Amphitheater. This was my first time checking out Anti-Flag, and while they have a different vibe than most bands at Warped, they proceed with their message loud and clear and rock out like they mean it. Politically charged, the pit was turned into an intense circle pit that boasted simultaneous camaraderie at the insistence of the band. Side note, I’m pretty sure bassist Chris Barker has had springs implanted into the bottoms of his feet. That man has some of the most flexible jumps I’ve ever seen from someone besides a gymnast.
Next up and also sharing the Kia Rio Stage was Pierce The Veil. Pierce The Veil never ceases to amaze, bringing their intensity and concurrent laid back Cali vibe and mixing it into a unique sound. These guys lent some color to their stage with their custom neon detailed guitars and bright demeanor and rocked out like no other. They had the entire crowd seeking shade under the Amphitheater on their feet and moving.
Last band I covered for the morning/early afternoon portion of the day was Yellowcard. This band stole my heart back in my middle school days… otherwise known as the days when MTV still played music. These guys have only fine tuned their sound over the years but still bring that youthful attitude and demeanor to the stage. Seeing Yellowcard finally and coincidentally shooting them as well is an item to check off the bucket list. And whenever I make it back to Ocean Avenue, I can look back, smile, and know that everything has come full circle.
Scroll down for more photos from these bands!! Be sure to stay tuned for Part II and III of this exciting day full of music, photos, and fun at Vans Warped Tour Cleveland!!
PIERCE THE VEIL