Vans Warped Tour 2012: The Good, The Bad, and the Auto-Tuned

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See also: Vans Warped Tour 2011 See also: Hot Chicks at Wicked Tattoos at the Vans Warped Tour If you're going to The Vans Warped Tour on Thursday, look around and try to spot the dinosaur. It won't be a giant carnivorous lizard with huge teeth and disproportionately small arms.

It will be me.

See, I remember a simpler Warped Tour. I'm one of the few who remembers a time, back in the Mesozoic era I guess, when rappers Eminem and Ice T got booed off the stage by angry punk fans. I remember crowd surfing on the asphalt of Celebrity Theater, and the mud soaked fields of Manzanita Speedway.

Yes, a lot has changed at The Vans Warped Tour. Ska bands had found a place among the pantheon of the tour's greatest bands. All the bands we now consider "giant", from Pennywise to The Dropkick Murphys, descended upon the valley in one enormous sun-baked extravaganza. There were skate ramps everywhere. Flash-forward a decade. It has been 10 years since I last donned my oldest pair of checkered slip-ons and Manic Panic hair dye, and ran screaming and sunburned into the giant sweaty crowd at Peoria Sports Complex. I was one of those excited kids, one who didn't care about the heat or the crowds. It was magical.

I guess I lost touch with the Warped Tour, because looking over this year's roster, well, I wasn't too familiar with the bands. But I'm changing my dinosaur ways, I'm diving into the lineup and figuring out what's what. And I'm going to scope the festival out, either in an attempt to relive my glory days, or possibly just to regale today's youth with stories of what it was like at Warped Tour when I was their age. Here's 10 Warped Tour bands that caught my attention -- the good, the bad, and the ugly.


This Maryland-based rock band takes its inspiration from bands like 311, Sublime, and Green Day. Those and pretty much any band out of Orange County in the mid-1990s. It's not groundbreaking, but it's easy to listen to.   Cold Forty Three I'm not a big fan of Auto-Tune. Okay, that's an understatement; I despise anything Auto-Tuned. Cold Forty Three's "It All Comes Back to Me," is certainly no exception to the rule. The L.A. band seems to take its cues from Fall Out Boy, a lingering influence on the Warped style, but I'm not sure I'm down with this being the sound of my beloved Warped Tour.  

Funeral Party

Another Los Angeles entry, my first taste of these guys was "Where Did It Go Wrong". I can't see moshing to it, but it's well arranged and has a good groove. Funeral Party, in my humble old-man opinion, seems to be one of the more musically ambitious bands playing the tour.

Machine Gun Kelly

You may remember this Ohio rapper for getting arrest after brawling in Florida in January. Listening to "Chip off the Block," it feels like Machine Gun Kelly will be getting noticed more for his rapid-fire delivery, reminiscent of early Busta Rhymes. Something about him screams "grow the hell up," but youthful rebellion is what it's all about. MGK is leading the pack of hip-hoppers on the Warped Tour, a road paved by Kool Keith and Yelawolf.

Pierce the Veil-

I'm not going to spend much time dissecting Pierce the Veil's "Bulletproof Love." It's reminiscent of Alvin and the Chipmunks, if Alvin did whippets before belting out his best love ballad. Just. Make. It. Stop.  

Rise to Remain A London-based metal band. How refreshing. Lyrically, songs like "Bridges to Burn" leaves a bit to be desired, but it is yet another testament to Vans' willingness to expand its musical genres on the tour. Here's a band I can get behind.


Senses Fail

I'm not into this sound -- but the video for "Calling all Cars" is quite amusing. It's tempting to dismiss the kind of stuff, but Senses Fail has been kicking for a full decade and just released a greatest hits record. In a lot of ways, they buck the naysayers (and I'm one of them) a lot like the Warped Tour itself: People thought it would never last, but here it is, 19 years later.  

Ten Second Epic

Listening to "Welcome to Wherever You Are" by this Edmonton, Alberta, band feels a lot like "teenage garage band makes it big." It's a bit soft around the edges and, like many others these days, smacks of trying a little to hard. It's the kind of band I'd expect my little sister to listen to.   Vampires Everywhere

Is someone fucking with me? Seriously? Let's leave the vampire-inspired rock bands where they belong: Anne Rice novels. Besides guys, haven't you got the news? Vampires are over; it's all about zombies these days.

We Are in the Crowd

Another Auto-Tuned song, "For the Win" screamed Radio Disney to me. This may just be one of those bands I will never understand because of the years that separate me from its fans. Which isn't to day it's hard to appreciate Jordan Eckes' vocals.

After listening to a few bands on the lineup, I don't think I can expect the same level of debauchery and euphoria I had known in my youth. But I'm going to put my cranky-old-man gripes aside and see what the Warped Tour brings me.

The Warped Tour is scheduled for Thursday, June 28 at Camelback Ranch featuring Blessthefall, Every Time I Die, Taking Back Sunday, Yellowcard, and more.    

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