I need to say straight away how difficult it is to review such a massive event. So much was going on at any one time, so we’ll stick to the most memorable stuff in chronological order. With that said, Billy Talent, Rise Against, Yellowcard and The Maine all played on both days so they won’t be mentioned in day 2.
After gaining early entry to the venue by donating 3 tins of food (as is Warped Tour tradition), it was time to check out the merch and the stages before any of the bands played. Since there was nothing of interest, we checked out Fact, a Japanese band (with a random white guy – I really just don’t even understand) who opened the festival. They had potential but were lacking in vocals, which actually became a running theme of the weekend, but more on that later.
The best thing about Warped Tour UK is the main stage set up – they have 2 main stages beside each other (basically a massive stage cut in half) so there are no clashes from the 12 or 13 bands that play; bands play back to back. The first two bands on the main stage are Attila, who I have absolutely no time for, and Crossfaith [4/5], the Japanese Rave Metallers. Crossfaith are absolutely incredible and blow everyone away to become one of the best acts of the day, much like the year before. They’ll be back supporting Limp Bizkit in February, which I’m thrilled about.
The Wonder Years [2/5] were on next, and since I’ve heard great things, I was pretty excited. What a complete letdown they were. Paling in comparison to Crossfaith before them, most people didn’t even realise they had come on stage because they were watching Crossfaith walk OFF the stage whilst attempting to screw their heads back on. Vocal problems and weak guitars led to a crap overall performance. It was during this set that we went and got food, finding out that 2 burgers and 2 drinks came to £18. I think a part of me died.
Skip ahead beyond The Maine because I can’t stand them, we checked out the acoustic stage and had a little rest, and were greeted by the beautiful voice of Dagny [4/5]. Hailing from Norway, this songbird produces the kind of music that you imagine playing in the background when you’re dreaming about being in a meadow. A great change of pace and the perfect music to rest to, before heading back to the main stage for Memphis May Fire [2/5]. By this point, we’re getting sick of all the generic metalcore bands, so perhaps I’m a little biased in giving them a 2/5, but hey, I did find £10 in the mosh pit which I used to buy some overpriced chips.
The standout band of the day had to be Yellowcard [5/5]. I didn’t realise how huge this band were in the pop-punk community but they definitely gave the best all-round performance of the day, totally catching me off guard. With everyone bouncing and singing along, it was a welcome change from all the metalcore bands that began to sound the same. Next are Billy Talent [4/5], who have a real cult following: most people who like Billy Talent LOVE Billy Talent (much like Rise Against who will play later) and it’s really no surprise because they are fantastic live. Unfortunately, there were sound problems and Ben’s (singer) vocals were very quiet. Clearly, a certain sound engineer somewhere needs to lose his job.
Parkway Drive [5/5] are up next, and as I write this, I realise that the sound problems seemed to be a problem for all the bands who played on the Left Main Stage but not so much the Right Main Stage. Peculiar. Parkway Drive are always amazing live and this was no exception. The biggest circle pit of the weekend was probably that caused by Parkway Drive, and their aggressive sound probably remains a highlight of most people’s weekend.
Finally, Rise Against [4/5] come on stage and were met with sound problems once again (forget firing the sound engineer, we should tie him up and lock him in a basement for ruining our festival). They still put on a great show and their reception and atmosphere was beautiful, despite lead singer Tim McIlrath falling flat on his back not once, but twice, during this 1 hour set. Impressive Tim, impressive – exactly how you want to close the first day of the festival.
For day 2, I wasn’t really impressed by anything that happened early in the day, apart from a Sonic Boom Six Acoustic set [4/5], so we’ll skip ahead to the event that was so memorable, it made headlines pretty much everywhere, including BBC. American rapper Watsky [4/5] played the main stage around 4pm, and during his last song, which I arrived just in time for, he climbed up the lighting rig, which was about 40ft off the ground. Bringing the mic with him, we figured he was going up there to rap. Nope. Within 5 seconds of reaching the top, he threw his cap into the crowd and immediately jumped after it, breaking a woman’s arm and causing unknown injuries to another fan. From what I heard, he actually hit the floor himself, yet miraculously is completely fine. He has apologised on Facebook since, but if you’re curious, the videos are all over Youtube, just search “Watsky Jump” – but be warned that it might be graphic. The humorous part of this whole stunt is that he actually left the mic up there, leading to a random sound dude having to scramble up the ladder to fetch it after the set.
We Are The Ocean [2/5] had their set pushed back about 15 minutes due to Watsky’s stunt, but that’s okay, because they were possibly the most disappointing band of the weekend, and certainly of the day. They simply lack the energy that they had before the departure of Dan Brown last year. Sorry Liam, you’re not good enough to front this band. Hatebreed [5/5] were on next. Hatebreed were probably the standout band on the lineup, since they don’t really fit in, and haven’t played warped tour in 15 years (they were banned in 1998, I don’t even want to know why). However, they were absolutely brilliant, and the first band of the day to get the crowd going. There was a human catapult (4 guys throwing people on top of the crowd to crowdsurf) located at the edge of the mosh pit, and I’m pretty sure they sent a little blonde girl flying about 6 metres, it was glorious. Hatebreed, like Yellowcard the day before, were the standout impressive band for me on Sunday. And the cherry on the cake? I found another £5 – that’s my dinner sorted again.
A Day To Remember [2/5] made a surprise appearance and played a “secret” acoustic set on the second stage, just before Sonic Boom Six were due on. ADTR shouldn’t be playing acoustic sets. However, I’m glad they did, because it helped me with my dilemma of dealing with the Sonic Boom Six / Max Raptor clash that occurred. Pushing back SB6’s set meant I was able to catch a decent amount of both. Max Raptor [5/5] are one of the best modern punk bands out there and are definitely worth a listen, whilst Sonic Boom Six [4/5] have enough stage presence to play the main stage at Reading festival, which I’m sure will happen in the next 2 years. The day was closed by Enter Shikari [4/5], who are playing their last set of the year and for the near future, and what a way to end things. These guys were worth seeing for the light shows alone, never mind their awesome mix of hardcore and dance/electronic music. Cracking performance lads.