The top 5 bands to catch at Warped Tour Toronto 2014
The top bands at Warped Tour 2014 in Toronto will run you heavy on nostalgia - unless you're too young to remember many Warpeds past. Gather 'round, ye pierced, tattooed and rainbow-haired: this year marks the 20th anniversary of the massive all-ages touring festival, consistently popular with kids for pairing cool, anti-establishment counter-culture with youth-friendly product advertising. What started as a punk rock festival has expanded its scope significantly to include lots of genres such as pop, hip hop, electronic, and indie, though the peppy guitar stuff still dominates.
Truthfully, the Warped Tour probably lost its edge a long time ago, and a recent halfhearted ban on crowdsurfing and moshing really hammers home the corporate identity that's taken over. Still, metal, emo and pop-punk diehards can find plenty of worthwhile acts at this year's shindig (and that ban doesn't seem very serious, anyway). At just under $50 before service fees, the tickets are pricey but still a lot cheaper than most of Toronto's big music festivals this summer. So if you're contemplating braving the crowds of screaming tweens with undercuts this Friday at The Molson Amphitheatre, here are five totally ska-free (sorry, Less Than Jake) band picks.
PS: If you want more, check out this Warped Tour rant from 2005.
Every Time I Die
One of the reigning heavyweights of hardcore, Every Time I Die join the festival for a sixth year to cement themselves as Warped Tour veterans. It's perfect timing as their newest LP From Parts Unknown was just released (with glowing reviews, I might add) on Tuesday, so fans can grab the album in time to memorize lyrics and sing along with the new tunes for their Friday set. Just as comfortable on a sweaty bar stage as they are at a major festival, the Buffalo five-piece pack a ton of excitement into a live set and will hopefully show the tour's many whippersnappers how it's done.
Any band on the verge of breaking up
Hey, Warped Tour doesn't have to just be for the trendy and too-young-to-vote crowd. Those of us feeling nostalgic for our favourite decade-old high-school breakup songs should check out this year's crop of MySpace-era names - especially since this might be our last chance. Alt-rockers Anberlin announced that their seventh LP Lowborn will be their last, and Warped is a big chunk of their farewell tour; Finch were heavily rumoured to be ending things in 2013, but for the time being, they're also hitched to the Warped bandwagon. And even though Yellowcard doesn't currently have any quitting plans, keep in mind: they've already gone on hiatus once (from 2008-2010), and several members have left since then, leaving just one original founder in the fold - guess who it is? The violin player! I know, I'm surprised too. Good for him.
Courage My Love
The only Canadian band on the bill (!), Courage My Love is a Kitchener-born pop-punk trio that's young but full of promise. Though they've only released three EPs, their singles are faves on MuchMusic (who still play music videos, apparently?) that earned them a Juno nod for Breakthrough Band this year. Those who miss the days of Paramore as a Warped staple should catch Courage My Love's set, as vocalist Mercedes Arn-Horn packs a power and style reminiscent of Hayley Williams. Plus, they're one of the only female-fronted acts in what's otherwise a painfully overwhelming dude-fest.
Saves The Day
Emo has been a dirty word for the better part of the last decade, but rumour is it's actually becoming kind of cool again (as cool as it ever was), which surely benefits long-haul representatives like Saves The Day. Despite numerous lineup changes, the New Jersey band is still truckin' under the guidance of frontman Chris Conley, whose impassioned, bittersweet lyrics likely resonate just as much with those who grew up in the 90s as they do with kids now. Critics are saying they're just as strong as ever with the new members, so don't let the new faces turn you off - they can still give a powerful performance.
There's a handful of esteemed heavy bands that deserve to be on a list like this, such as Terror and Parkway Drive, but Wyoming's Teenage Bottlerocket rounds out the top five because they make exactly the type of music that people remember the Warped Tours of yesteryear so fondly for: simple, bratty, catchy pop-punk that doesn't take itself too seriously, yet still pays homage to classic influences. If you just want to let loose and have a good time (possibly with some slightly discouraged moshing here and there), get up front for these guys.
Warped Tour 2014 is in Toronto Friday, July 4 at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre.
Writing by Shazia Khan. Photo of Courage My Love by Ashley Osborn via Facebook