Festival Recap: Warped Tour (x2)

The first time I attended Warped Tour was in Mansfield, MA in 2010. I went with several friends and everything that could have gone wrong, did. We ended the day with several injuries, a pair of broken glasses, a water-logged cell phone, and a bag of brownies that had melted into brownie mush in the car while we were at the venue. It also rained.

Four years later, I also attended Warped Tour in Mansfield, MA. Then, three days later, I attended Warped Tour in Hartford, CT. I went with #1 Roommate and Gig Buddy Extraordinaire, AR, and had a super time both days. That being said, I went home Thursday with an uneven backwards-snapback-shaped sunburn (right on my forehead — nice), and by the end of Sunday night, we were both so covered in dirt from walking around the Hartford venue that when each of us showered, the water turned black. HELL YEAH, WARPED TOUR!

No, but really. I had a stellar time. Let me split this post into two sections so that I can recap each date, shall I?

Thurs., July 10: Mansfield, MA

I love, love, love the Xfinity Center in Mansfield. I’ve got such fond memories there (seeing blink-182 in 2009, going to Warped Tour in 2010), and every time I attend a show there I know it’ll be organized. Given the mess that was MONUMENTOUR a few weeks ago, not having to worry about organization getting into Warped Tour was amazing.  Anyway, Thursday was no exception. The layout for this year was almost exactly as I remembered the layout from 2010, which made navigating really simple. Familiar food vendors were there (as well as a Providence-based grilled cheese truck that offered vegan and gluten-free options! Awesome!) and everything was just very… easy. It was nice.

We saw a ton of bands in Mansfield. We started the day by catching the first few songs of The Summer Set, then gravitated toward the Ernie Ball Stage to see Providence bands Que Sera and Trophy Wives absolutely nail their sets. Thanks to a crowd surfer landing on my head, I smashed my face into the barricade during the Trophy Wives set and left the pit because I’d bit my top lip open, but it was still super cool to see them at Warped Tour after voting for them for months on Battle of the Bands.

From there, we saw portions of a lot of different sets, including Echosmith, Real Friends, and even MC Chris. I got to see Yellowcard for the first time ever, even though I’ve been listening to them since Ocean Avenue was all over MTV, and burst into tears during “Only One”. I never quite realized how important that band and album were/are to me until that moment, which AR thinks is ridiculous. Oh well. We overheard the Bowling for Soup set just before that and I caught the first part of the We the Kings set right after. We saw almost the entirety of the PVRIS set at our friend Lauren’s encouraging (she came with us to the event and worked press, taking incredible photos of over a dozen bands. I’ll add a link once she uploads) and fell in love. (More on that later.)

Then, we saw Four Year Strong for the second time this year and listened to Parkway Drive while waiting for The Story So Far. The latter half of Thursday was packed with full sets that we couldn’t miss, which was awesome, because it gave us the chance to walk around and explore during in the early morning and mid-afternoon. It allowed me to pick up the new Four Year Strong EP two weeks early (!!!) and some other awesome merch, plus gave us the chance to meet people and talk to bands and say hello to friends. Thursday was an awesome experience pretty much overall. It was hot and sticky and my face kind of hurt all day, but that and the sunburn I suffered were totally, totally worth it.

Sun., July 13: Hartford, CT

Prior to Sunday, I had never been to the Xfinity Center in Hartford, CT. All I knew was that in years past, when certain bands only played certain dates (like Paramore a few years ago), they always hit the Connecticut date. So when AR bought Warped Tour tickets for Christmas, I told them to go for the Hartford date. (We ended up going to Mansfield thanks to tickets from AR’s job. Woohoo!) I can say with some honesty that I will never, ever go to another show there again. It was much smaller than the venue in Mansfield and mostly dirt, so it was grimy and jam-packed with people and the stages were so close together that everything was just loud, loud, loud.

However, we still caught some pretty amazing bands and got to meet The Summer Set at their F’Real Milshake Truck signing (I shit you not), so that was all good. We started the day in the acoustic basement with Nick Santino, who was darling as usual, and then hit the barricade for The Summer Set shortly thereafter. We also spent a lot of time hanging out in the arena, which meant we saw some weird shit (Mod Sun), some awesome shit (Issues), and some disturbing shit (Protomen).

PVRIS, Xfinity Center, Hartford, CT. July 13, 2014. (Instagram.)

We left the arena to see PVRIS for the second time, then met the band at their merch tent after — they were incredibly sweet, even allowing us to snag a copy of their album even though we didn’t quite have enough cash to afford it. They signed it and everything. It was so nice. (Our whole day was vaguely PVRIS-themed, actually, since lead singer Lynn Gunn joined The Summer Set onstage for “Maybe Tonight” earlier in the afternoon.)

Once again, the latter half of the day was quite a bit more packed than the early part. We saw Four Year Strong and Breathe Carolina back to back, which was kind of jarring. I had never actually heard Breathe Carolina’s music before but had always assumed from their merch that they were a hardcore band. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that their sound is significantly electronica-based; the crowd went completely wild during their set and the band actually crowd-surfed in inflatable rafts at one point. It was awesome.

We overheard the We the Kings set while we waited for Yellowcard to take the stage and once again, I cried (this time during the bridge on “Ocean Avenue”). After that, we headed home. We were very, very tired humans.

I don’t think I’ll ever hit Warped Tour twice in the same year again, just given how crazy each individual date usually is. That being said, it was super cool to get to catch bands and signings on day two that we weren’t able to catch on day one, and even cooler to see repeat performances of bands that are incredible live, time after time. Warped Tour is always an Experience, and it was cool to have that Experience twice during the same tour, but… I think I’m just getting Too Old.


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