Boy, what a difference a year makes. When the Vans Warped Tour hit St. Louis last year the city was embroiled in a record heat wave and temperatures reached 107 degrees. This past Wednesday the tour rolled back into town at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater to a much friendlier greeting from Mother Nature with highs in the lower 80’s.
The day-long festival created its own heat though with an enormous amount of acts performing on eight different stages spanning nearly ten hours.
Realistically, there is no way to see every single act, though some tried. Most fans plotted their day at the Board, a giant inflatable stage listing filled with set times for each act and each stage. Others forked over $2 for a map of the stage locations with set times on a convenient 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper.
With seemingly endless amounts of tents that included band tents, merchandise, food, jewelry and clothing wares, fans could get seemingly anything they wanted.
But the main focus of the festival, and as it has been since its inception in 1995, is the music. With 94 artists on this stop checking out as many as you can fit in was in vogue.
For me, I was able to check out 13 acts ranging from the thunderous echoes of metalcore act August Burns Red, to the young pop rock sounds of Echosmith (formerly Ready, Set, Go!) and a wide swath of sound in between.
Some of the more interesting acts were:
Five Knives-an electro band with a dynamic stage presence. Their crowd started off small and tame but grew many passersby during their raucous set.
Letlive-a hardcore metal band who’s boundless energy from their lead singer Jason Aalon Butler was super intriguing and a blast to photograph.
The Chariot- a metal band with a penchant for playing exhausting sets wherever they go.
Black Veil Brides- a rock band with a legion of adoring/screaming fans enthralled at their every move, including some groping of lead singer Andy Biersack as he tried to climb the barricades to interact with the crowd. The groping put a stop to that as he retreated to the safety of the stage.
Other bands I checked out included metal acts Like Moths to Flames, Defeater and Crown the Empire, who had an avid following for the small stage they were assigned to for the day.
I also was able to catch sets from punk rockers Strawberry Blondes, electro-pop Young London, and The Cleopatra Complex, who should have had a larger crowd for their fine set.
The Summer Set performed on the Amphitheater’s main stage, which was split up into two stages, and had a rabid following of screaming teens rocking out to the catchy tunes emanating from the stage.
Fans should certainly check out the Vans Warped Tour on future stops this summer, and while you can’t see every band you can certainly see several. The thirteen acts I saw heated up the venue and are ones to check out for yourself.