5 on Friday: 5 Bands I’m Going to See at Warped Tour

Hardcore and pop punk kids know that summer means Warped Tour season. Started by Kevin Lyman in 1995, Vans Warped Tour is the longest North American music festival geared toward the rock, metalcore and pop punk scene. Legendary bands like Blink 182, Bad Religion, Green Day and Less Than Jake gained their most loyal fans by playing on Warped Tour. Years later, it’s amazing to see this new generation of acts taking the reigns. So, here are five bands I’m going to see this summer.
Neck Deep – Are you even a pop punk kid if you don’t listen to Neck Deep? UK act Neck Deep has made a name for themselves in music. With crowd-pleasers such as “Gold Steps,” “What Did You Expect?” and “Crushing Grief (Remedy),” to the sad boy classic “A Part of Me,” Neck Deep is the hype band everyone needs to see. I’ve only seen them live once before, at Warped Tour 2015, and that had to be one of my all-time favorite shows. Lead singer Ben Barlow is a man with no limits. He may not have the best vocals in the industry, but what he lacks in ability, he makes up for in performance. His energy is electric, and when combined with the band’s hard-hitting instruments it’s perfection. I highly recommend seeing Neck Deep because the atmosphere, music and crowd are all hype and heart.

 Dance Gavin Dance – Electrifying guitar licks, piercing vocals and outlandish lyrics perfectly describe Dance Gavin Dance. Back again on the Warped Tour lineup, DGD is ready to play favorites, such as “Uneasy Hearts Weigh the Most” and “Elder Goose,” and tracks from their newly released album, “Mothership.” This will be my first time seeing them live and I have high hopes. Many describe Tillian Pearson’s live vocals as a perfect mixture of pop-esque influences and the grit found in post-hardcore bands. Not only are Pearson’s vocals spot on, but Will Swan’s guitar ability is unmatched. His creativity and playful execution has made him one of my favorite guitarists in the scene. The deep bass and punchy drum line finalizes the group’s cohesive sound. If you don’t see DGD live for yourself then you’re going to miss out on a killer show.

Boston Manor – Despite being only recently signed to Pure Noise Records, newbies Boston Manor have already gained momentum in the scene. I’m not very familiar with their music, but this is Warped Tour. It is the best time to be open-minded and watch up-and-coming bands take the stage. From their new album “Be Nothing,” songs such as “Cu” and “Kill Your Conscience” carry a different vibe from the typical crowd-hyping pop punk. The album’s overdriven guitars, fast drumming and gritty vocals take a page from Balance and Composure’s earlier sound and even hint at Moose Blood’s album, “I’ll Keep You in Mind From Time to Time.” Boston Manor is more than the stereotypical, cutesy pop punk band, but an act with depth and meaning. I’m excited to hear what these guys have to offer.

 Trophy Eyes – When I first listened to their “Mend, Move On” album, Trophy Eyes didn’t impress me. Their sound lacked the originality and genuineness I hear from bands like Set Your Goals and Balance and Composure. However, I am willing to give them another try. Tracks like “Counting Sheep” and “Daydreamer” prove that Trophy Eyes does have the potential I was looking for. Although the rest of the album falls flat, in my opinion, I have an open mind and high hopes for their live performance.

 GWAR – I’m definitely not a metal head, but GWAR is a band I’m dying to see. To be honest, I don’t know any of their music. I’ve never listened to them, and I didn’t know anything about them until a few weeks ago. But, from their barbarian styled costumes to their wild on-stage gimmicks, this band is one to watch. Catch me in the pit going hard and covered in fake blood.

Featured Image (“Warped Tour Mosh Pit”)  by Ted Van Pelt. License

Back from the Dead: Dance Gavin Dance

After listening to Mothership, I am now a converted DGD fan with a new found appreciation for Tillian Pearson.

Tillian’s vocals were great in Acceptance Speech. They were even better in Instant Gratification, but Mothership displays his true talent as a clean vocalist. He belts out killer vocal runs on tracks such as “Deception” and “Inspire the Liars”. His smooth transitions from quiet falsettos to intense, high strung yelling makes him a dynamic vocalist to listen to and an exciting one to watch live. Even his connection with Jon Mess is electric. Their vocals blend well together with Will Swan’s catchy riffs which make each song even more enjoyable. This formula of excellent clean and unclean vocals, experimental guitar riffs, hard hitting drums by Matt Mingus, and funky bass work by Tim Feerick is the perfect storm.

“Chocolate Jackalope” is an example of this perfect formula. In my opinion, the intro has the best riff on the album, showing off Will Swan’s instrumental chops. This track even gives listeners a little autotune, drake referenced rap portion by him. It sounds a little cringey, a little obnoxious, but when is a DGD album not cringey. Jon Mess’s lyrics are the epitome of this with lines like “he’s my widdle baby meow meow boo” (Chocolate Jackalope). “Petting Zoo Justice” features another golden line – “clip clop, clip clip clop Horse comes out and beats your parents up.” The lyricism is pure poetry.

Mothership definitely hits hard on tracks like “Philosopher King” and “Petting Zoo Justice.” Swan delivers magical guitar riffs from start to finish; no breaks, no chill. Matt Mingus’s double pedal accompaniment is a nice touch as well. The power metal elements contrast Tillian’s crooning vocals. This refreshing element exemplifies the experimental styling of DGD.

Unfortunately, “Exposed” and “Flossie Dickey Bounce” fell short for me. They seemed incomplete, something was missing. “Exposed” demonstrates Tillian’s vocal range but it would’ve been even better with Jon screaming along. On the other hand, “Flossie Dickey Bounce” lacked patience. It felt rushed, put together at the last minute, but not going to lie, the intro makes me laugh.

Overall, I give this album a 8.5 out of 10. I believe Dance Gavin Dance has found their perfect formula and I hope it will stay like that.

Favorite tracks: Young Robot, Frozen One, Deception, Inspire the Liars, Chocolate Jackalope, Philosopher King

Least favorite tracks: Exposed, Flossie Dickey Bounce