LIVE: Vans Warped Tour @ Alexandra Palace, London (17/11/2013)

Date: November 17th, 2013
Venue: Alexandra Palace, London
Website: www.vanswarpedtouruk.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/vanswarpedtouruk
Twitter: www.twitter.com/warpeduk

Rating:

Following its return to the UK after a 10 year hiatus last November, it was clear from the response that Vans Warped Tour on British shores deserved to stay. So, come 2013, Vans Warped Tour is back once again at London’s Alexandra Palace. This time packing a weekend full of brilliant bands from across the globe, including stage headliners such as Enter Shikari, Rise Against and Parkway Drive, we just had to get involved with the final major UK music festival of the year.


MONSTER STAGE:

THE COLOR MORALE – 4/10
A steady start to day two of the Vans Warped Tour weekend is brought to you by Illinois’ The Color Morale. Maybe it was down to the sounddesk, the band themselves or a combination of the two, but the overall mix sounds a bit muffled and, for lack of a better word, poor. This is displayed at its most prominent with Garret Rapp‘s vocals. Still, the crowd lap it up for the most part, and Rapp‘s brief speeches throughout the set are inspiring at least. [ZR]

RDGLDGRN – 5/10
Things are brought down a few tempos for RDGLDGRN, arguably one of the more out-of-place acts to grace the Vans Warped Tour festival weekend line-up. Their mellow/easy listening rock, though a relaxing listen, isn’t really something that is built or suited for a main stage slot. Far from a bad band by any means, but sadly the lack of crowd participation or general interest leaves RDGLDGRN as a rather one-dimensional experience. [ZR]

WATSKY + WAX – 6/10
The acts on the main stage are getting progressively better as time goes on, and what we’re brought next is the combination of rappers George Watsky and Wax (or, Michael Jones), aptly titled Watsky + Wax. Their verses spitting out rhymes for songs about meeting a girl who knows a lot about marajuana amongst other things, backed by some chilled ska punk keeps the vibe set by RDGLDGRN shortly before them. However, the thing that will stick in most people’s minds is Watsky‘s infamous 30ft lighting rig jump after closer, ‘I Don’t Give A Fuck’ (watch here). [ZR]

WE ARE THE OCEAN – 8/10
It’s safe to say that now We Are The Ocean‘s post-hardcore past with screamer Dan Brown is now dead and buried, and instead the Essex outfit are appreciated and accepted for their alternative rock present. Liam Cromby‘s voice is impeccable and desirable, through songs like ‘The Waiting Room’ and ‘Bleed’ he hits every note perfectly and the crowd sing along to almost every word. Come the release of their fourth album, expect even bigger things. [ZR]

HATEBREED – 8/10
Being one of the longest running bands on the whole bill, it’s understandable why so many people are confused as to why heavy hitters Hatebreed are as low on the main stage line-up as they are today. Regardless, this doesn’t impact their energetic and sweaty set, with a set composed of the likes of ‘Put It To The Torch’, ‘Live For This’ and ‘Straight To Your Face’ to name but a few. Living proof that over the years Hatebreed certainly haven’t lost their touch and are still one of the pioneers of their genre. [ZR]

THE MAINE – 6/10
Back for main stage set number two of the weekend, The Maine, much like all of the other three bands granted with two sets for the festival, the Arizona based rockers pretty much deliver the same setlist a second time over. Much like yesterday’s performance, ‘Love & Drugs’ and ‘I Must Be Dreaming’ get plenty of fans singing along. Still, again like yesterday, the band seem a little reserved, and maybe to get the full experience, you need to capture them at their own headline show. [ZR]

WHILE SHE SLEEPS – 8/10
Returning to something far less melodic with budding British metalcore favourites, While She Sleeps. Opening with ‘This Is The Six’, the Sheffield quintet prove why they’re one of the UK’s fastest growing metalcore exports. Frontman Lawrence Taylor commands the crowd with ease, and through songs like ‘The North Stands For Nothing’ and ‘Death Toll’ incite pit after pit within the crowd. The whole room screaming “Give me your hand!” during fan favourite ‘Crows’ is one of the set’s biggest highlights. [ZR]

COHEED & CAMBRIA – 8/10
With the ability to be seen afar thanks to Claudio Sanchez‘s huge and incredibly impressive hair, Coheed & Cambria manage to keep an even mix of all of their records throughout their short set time. Newbies ‘Gravity’s Union’ and ‘Goodnight, Fair Lady’ stand toe-to-toe with classic favourites ‘Devil In Jersey City’ and ‘A Favour House Atlantic’. However, Coheed & Cambria walk away with the award of the only band who play a guitar solo with their teeth towards the final moments of set closer, ‘Welcome Home’. Exceptional. [ZR]

BILLY TALENT – 7/10
Coming back for set number two of the weekend, Canadians Billy Talent would’ve benefited with maybe shaking around their setlists for each day a little bit as there are only minor differences with the songs they play (think of those with weekend tickets). However, the likes of ‘This Suffering’ and ‘Try Honesty’ bring forth the nostalgia and, put rightly by frontman Ben Kowalewicz himself, Sunday really was the band’s better set of the two. Closing off with ‘Red Flag’, this is the last time we’ll be seeing the quartet for a while. [ZR]

RISE AGAINST – 8/10
Also returning for the second time this weekend, and on this occassion not as a main stage headliner, Rise Against. Much like Billy Talent, song inclusions and changes with the sets between the two days are rather minimal, but songs like ‘Like The Angel’ and set closer ‘Savior’ see huge participation throughout the main hall. A lot of the crowd gather towards the end of the bands set to catch headliners Enter Shikari, but this manages to bring a much more grand series of chants throughout ‘Ready To Fall’ and, again like Billy Talent, brings a better overall set for all Sunday attendees. [ZR]

ENTER SHIKARI – 9/10
Known as a band who are as much of a treat for the eyes as they are for the ears, Enter Shikari are now left to close off 2013’s Vans Warped Tour with the climax that it deserves. The explosive one-two of ‘System…’ and ‘…Meltdown’ is a start of what is to follow from the St. Albans genre fusers. New one-off singles ‘The Paddington Frisk’ and ‘Radiate’ go down an absolute treat, but nothing is welcomed more than oldies ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’ and ‘Solidarity’. The raucous ‘Gandhi Mate, Gandhi’, as always, includes the band’s mid-set banter when frontman Rou Reynolds loses control of his anger, and then later sees the band throwing themselves across the stage. A band this good that also carries strong messages about our society is a treasure to the British music circuit. It’s good to see a UK band close of this year’s Vans Warped Tour, and do so walking off with the crown as one of the best bands of this year’s weekend. [ZR]

JÄGERMEISTER STAGE:

DECADE – 7/10
Bath based punk-grunge outfit Decade are fed a filter of early bird attendees walking through the doors and, as the first band and only band performing for the majority of the set, it’s an opportunity to be taken by the horns. Though a good portion of their set is made of cuts from yet-to-be-heard upcoming album, ‘Good Luck’, the likes of ‘Brainfreeze’ and self-titled EP hit ‘Never Enough’ incite a notable pit of dedicated fans to the side of the stage. When their album finally drops, expect this to be the case across a much bigger crowd. [ZR]

JIM LOCKEY & THE SOLEMN SUN – 6/10
Four-piece Cheltenham folk rockers Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun bring the tempo down a little bit, but they definitely slot in nicely between Decade and The Hype Theory on this stage’s bill. Sure, maybe the don’t pack the same crunch or buzz in their guitars as they do, but what they do carry is the folky twang that can be easily enjoyed with a pint in hand. [ZR]

THE HYPE THEORY – 7/10
Essex pop-rockers The Hype Theory have come along way over the few years since their inception, and a lot of that is due down to their recent full-length, ‘Captives’. One of the band’s bigger shows of the year and warm-up to their upcoming UK tour with Itch, hits like ‘Heartsick’ and ‘If You’re Going Down (I’m Going With You)’ get the crowd singing and leave confidence with the Essex lot that 2014 is going to be even bigger and better. [ZR]

GHOST TOWN – 2/10
Also prepping to head out on tour across the UK with Itch are Hollywood’s Ghost Town. They think of themselves as something innovative, however, their sound is something far from original but infact, actually quite hard to understand at times. Kevin Ghost‘s cleans are whiny, his screams lack any form of power or dominance and the instrumentation provided by his bandmates are, at best, messy and incohesive. Where possible, avoid. [ZR]

HACKTIVIST – 8/10
With just one EP to their name, rap/metal crossover kings Hacktivist have had a phenomenal 2013 playing major festivals throughout Europe. The combination of dual vocalists Ben Marvin and J Hurley works perfectly as the band get through ‘Blades’ and ‘Hacktivist’ early in the set before unleashing brand new track, ‘False Idols’. The crowd wait to really lose it to their reworking of Kanye West and Jay-Z‘s ‘Niggas In Paris’, instantly turning the heads of any passersby. The energy and excitement Hacktivist bring to their live shows justifies them being tagged as ones to watch. [MH]

A DAY TO REMEMBER – 8/10
A secret gig is slowly shed to our realisation as rumours fly about throughout the day, but all claims of A Day To Remember performing a short acoustic set are completely true. Shoving in a few quick songs between Hacktivist and Sonic Boom Six‘s sets, their appearance is short-lived but the stripped down presence of ‘All Signs Point To Lauderdale’ and newbie ‘City Of Ocala’. Closing off their short visit with crowd favourite, ‘All I Want’, where we’re brought a huge sing-along from the almost filled out room, ADTR take leave as suddenly as they appeared. Until February, guys. [ZR]

SONIC BOOM SIX – 7/10
After an already impressive set of festival slots this year, including Download Festival, Hit The Deck Festival and Takedown Festival, Mancunian punk rockers Sonic Boom Six are rounding this all up with some time onstage at this year’s Vans Warped Tour. From the adrenaline pumping ‘Virus’ to the pogo inducing ‘For The Kids Of The Multiculture’, it has taken a while for the Northern outfit to get the recognition they deserve, but better late than never. [ZR]

YELLOWCARD – 7/10
Another one of the four bands to perform on both dates of the weekend, this time around Yellowcard are placed onto the smaller sized Jägermeister stage. Maybe it’s the more intimate feel of the stage or maybe they limbered up a bit from yesterday’s set, but Yellowcard appear much more confident and pull out a far more impressive set. It’s a shame, however, that their setlist is pretty much completely identical, though how can you not dance along to the likes ‘Way Away’. [ZR]

THE SKINTS – 8/10
Things go back down a more skanking route come the appearance London’s reggae/ska punk quartet, The Skints. The toes are uncontrollably tapping and legs unavoidably shaking along to the likes of ‘Wom’ and ‘Roanna’s Song’, and it’d make absolutely perfect sense if the four-piece were to headline and close off the Jägermeister stage in an appropriate fashion. [ZR]

FLOGGING MOLLY – 6/10
However, things spiral down a little bit for the actual stage headliners, Flogging Molly. It’s a struggle just to fit the seven-piece onto the Jägermeister stage, but still the folk punks manage to pull out a set full of cheerful punk tunes to drink and dance along to. Perhaps the tiredness of the final hours of the festival weekend has tamed the excitement and energy levels down a little bit, but in contrast to that, maybe it’s better to just sit back, listen and enjoy the likes of ‘Saints & Sinners’ and ‘Revolution’. [ZR]

KEVIN SAYS STAGE:

PAGE 44 – 6/10
The Brummie pop-rockers Page 44 have been bestowed many great opportunities in their time other than their set this afternoon, winning Red Bull Bedroom Jam back in 2011 being a prime example. With this opportunity, we’d hope to see the band giving it a true effort at really kicking off their career to soaring heights. However, despite having clear radio bothering tracks in their arsenal, it’s their execution they need to develop. Keep at it guys. [ZR]

LIKE TORCHES – 6/10
Stockholm pop-rockers Like Torches are a fairly new import to the British audience, but their melodic sensibilities through songs like ‘Missing It All’ would definitely go down well across the UK if they’ve been given the right push. Maybe it’s their nerves of such a big show which gives the impression that Like Torches are a little restrained, but they’re ones to watch out for. [ZR]

CARNIVAL KIDS – 7/10
With a true punk vibe and a hugely energetic essence, Carnival Kids are another new one on the circuit, much like all of the other bands on the Kevin Says stage, and leave much reason for returned visits to their future shows. Latest single ‘What To Do When Awake Within A Dream’, though quite superb, doesn’t quite get a lot of the crowd moving and involved with the heat of it all. Their own show should bring forth their true potential. [ZR]

SKINNY LISTER – 6/10
The biggest wonder of Skinny Lister‘s set is how the whole band even managed to fit themselves on such a tiny stage, especially when Michael Camino is wielding a massive double bass on there too. The British folk troupe are an energetic bunch and, maybe in the right setting with a few other bands stylistically similar, they could really come into their own. [ZR]

BLACK DOGS – 8/10
Northern angry lot Black Dogs carry very little positive energy or messages, introducing one of their songs as “about a cunt”, what was to follow for their half an hour set is nothing other than aggression, carnage and hatred. Very much Britain’s answer to Trash Talk, frontman Gollo is seen throwing himself across the stage, bashing his microphone against a cymbal swiped from Canty‘s drum kit and, on several occassions, screaming his lungs out to the point of almost collapsing on the stage. One of Britain’s darkest underground hopes. [ZR]

MAX RAPTOR – 9/10
“Welcome to the anti-While She Sleeps party” Wil Ray ever so tactfully announces to the crowd regarding the clashing main room activities. But no-one’s regretting wandering downstairs to the Kevin Says stage as Max Raptor flawlessly tear through a monster set. ‘Breakers’ and ‘Must Work Harder’ slide into the old material perfectly, and ‘Patron Saint (Of Nothing)’ creates carnage as the Leicestershire rockers prove that their live show is good enough to rival bigger bands. Max Raptor are really starting to cement themselves as a must-book for festivals like this next year. [MH]

THE FIRST – 7/10
Pop-rockers The First are now out there with album number two, ‘Take Courage’, and their sharp shooks and sleek pop sheen attracts many sing-along moments and even one callout for frontman Benny Salter in the form of request to “show us your balls”. Testicles aside, cuts from the new album show us promise of a band still in their infancy, but definitely walking down the right path to greatness. [ZR]

CYTOTA – 6/10
Birmingham based quintet Cytota close their Road To Warped Tour run with big hitters Chiodos with one of the final sets across the whole weekend. Maybe the guys are a little tired out from their time on the road, but it seems like the band’s potential feels a little restricted. Their melodic metalcore is undeniably infectious, but maybe this evening is just an off night for the Midlanders. [ZR]

RAT ATTACK – 5/10
It’s a pity that party punks Rat Attack end this year’s Kevin Says stage with a rather lacklustre party. Though the crowd isn’t the greatest size, they do have the likes of Flogging Molly and Enter Shikari to compete with, so the sparse numbers is understandable. It doesn’t help, however, when the response frontman Mike Hodges when some people choose to just watch and not clap along is to “get involved or fuck off”. Well, do you know what? Some people did. [ZR]

PUNKTASTIC ACOUSTIC BASEMENT STAGE:

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch any acts that performed on this stage.


Written by Zach Redrup [ZR] and Mike Heath [MH]