It's hard to believe that the Warped Tour is now trucking into its 21st year. What's even more amazing is that a festival that is two decades old hasn't become a variety show for aging punk and metalcore bands.
Sure there are reunions and revivals, but the sheer amount of fresh talent that comes through town each year is always refreshing. Most festivals that are a decade or more in age seem to have aged with the crowd that founded them, not so with the Warped Tour, which is a cause of celebration in and of itself.
With that in mind we combed the plethora of artists showing up this year and found some classic acts that shouldn't be missed and a lot of newer talent as well. Here are 10 bands you should catch at the Van's Warped Tour 2016.
These hometown heroes deserve to lead off this list. Still riding high on 2015's American Candy, the boys in the Maine have been releasing a project of covers this year and they just released "Side B" last month, which included covers of Justin Bieber, Drake, Rhianna, and Shania Twain. I'm not sure how many of those they throw into the set, but it's sure to be a blast when they do.
New Found Glory
If these pop-punk pioneers were the only band I knew at this year's Warped Tour, I would still want to go for their set alone. NFG is only two years younger than the festival itself and every bit as vital now as they were when they formed nearly 20 years ago. Unlike a lot of bands from that era, they've never really stopped putting out records or touring in that time. They still deliver a super high-energy show and you can bask in, well, the glory of their sound and fantasize for a moment that it's 1999 again.
Against The Current
The Warped Tour has always been a little light when it comes to female-fronted acts on the roster, and most bands don't skew as poppy as Against the Current. In addition to that, it's surprising to find such a pop-oriented act on the lineup as well. They just released their debut full-length album, In Our Bones. If you're a fan of CHVRCHES, Paramore, or Metric, you will most assuredly love the hell out of ATC, and it will provide a nice feminine break in the day.
Knuckle Puck are working hard at keeping emo alive, as their heroes and influences reunite all over the place. They almost seem like direct descendants of New Found Glory, and I wonder how that's working for them on this tour. Their debut full-length, Copacetic, was released in 2015 and it was one of the best punk albums of the year. Blending classic punk with more modern influences, this is the perfect place for them to capture a ton of new fans.
If you haven't heard last year's Black Lines yet, pause your life for 45 minutes and give it a spin. If you miss My Chemical Romance and the height of emo, this may be the band to help you get your fix. The album is nearly flawless, and their live show has a similar reputation. Mayday Parade are probably worth the price of admission alone. Their music can be as energetic and punky as it can be heart-wrenchingly beautiful, but all of it is worth a listen.
Sleeping With Sirens
Sleeping With Sirens first made an impression with "If I'm James Dean, You're Audrey Hepburn" in 2010. The band is one of the best of the modern emo corps, and the group is a little more seasoned than some of the acts here. This isn't their first Warped Tour. Sleeping With Sirens should provide one of the best sets of the day.
The Summer Set
Scottsdale's the Summer Set spell it all out in the opening lines of "Figure Me Out" when Brian Dales sings "I’m a bit too pop for the punk kids / But I’m too punk for the pop kids / I don’t know just where I fit in." It's the opening track for their new album, Stories For Monday, that they just released in April. While others try to apply all kinds of labels to them, the Summer Set is really just simple poppy alternative rock. The new album is pretty strong, and it appears that last year's rumors of their breakup were greatly exaggerated.
Catchy. This band sticks in your head like peanut butter in a horse's mouth. It would not surprise me in the least to find out this band grew up going to Warped Tours throughout the years, because they sound like an instant fit. The rumor is that they will be releasing their first full-length album this year. Their songs are as hook-heavy as anything Blink or Sum-41 threw down in their prime, and it's damned difficult to get a song like "Crave" out of your head after only one or two listens.
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The Warped Tour wouldn't be what it is without some great metalcore acts, and one of the best to be found this year is relative newcomers Issues. They are currently riding high on the release of their sophomore album, Headspace, which came out on May 20. The new album is musically leaps and bounds beyond its predecessor. Check out Issues, and I guarantee you will be dazzled by Tyler Carter's amazing voice, if nothing else.
Real Friends are another band that wisely dropped a new album right before the Warped Tour started. The Home Inside My Head came out at the end of May. There is nothing groundbreaking about their formula; they just make great catchy rock with a punk tinge that's great for nearly any mood or moment. Their debut album climbed the charts pretty aggressively, and I can only imagine this new one will do the same before year's end. It's an overall better and consistent record, I can only guess their live show will be just as new and improved.