LIVE: Vans Warped Tour UK @ Alexandra Palace, London (18/10/2015)

Date: October 18th, 2015
Venue: Alexandra Palace, London

North America’s globally famous Vans Warped Tour returns to the UK for another dose of punk, rock, and metalcore at London’s Ally Pally (or, Alexandra Palace). After a year off due to being unable to secure high calibre headliners, the spotlight switches to Black Veil Brides and Asking Alexandria who top the bill for the third British reincarnated edition of the popular touring festival. We headed to the nation’s capital to see just what Kevin Lyman had in store for us this year.


This is what almost everyone is waiting for. All day, young girls and boys donned in heavy black make-up, impossibly tight skinny jeans and wild, dark hair have been shuffling ever-closer to the main stage in anticipation of this moment. As a spectacle, Black Veil Brides cannot fail to impress; the bursts of pyrotechnics can be felt from the front of Ally Pally to the very back, with roaring, blazing flames and sparks of deafening explosions lighting up the venue. The band own the room just with their presence alone, with members on podiums towering over the crowd and frontman Andy Biersack commanding your attention, all of the above making it near impossible to tear yourself away. It’s a shame then that when you close your eyes, the illusion is somewhat shattered. The sound quality just isn’t up to scratch today, and this is especially obvious for a band who are dominating stages all over the world. Biersack‘s voice, when it can be heard, is a little shaky in places, and doesn’t hold quite the same authority. Songs like ‘Rebel Love Song’ and ‘Fallen Angels’ don’t need flawless sound though, as the crowd sing along and couldn’t care less as long as they keep churning out the hits. This might not be a perfect performance, but there’s a lot to be said for a band who can still dress to impress despite some hiccups along the way. [SL]

Reel Big Fish are perhaps the most out-of-place act on this line-up, with their tongue-in-cheek ska punk being sandwiched on the main stage in between Memphis May Fire and Asking Alexandria raising some eyebrows. However, if the idea was to put them there for a little light relief in between the face-melters, then it works a treat. The mood immediately shifts when Reel Big Fish hit the stage, taking a happier, lighter, more amusing tone. Their brass section rings out loud and clear, improving the band’s sound quality leaps and bounds beyond the rest of the day, while frontman Aaron Barrett‘s cheeky lyrics and hilarious wisecracks with songs like ‘S.R.’ and ‘Beer’ are a breath of light-hearted fresh air. They may not cater to the majority taste of this festival, but Reel Big Fish are probably the most fun that we’ve had all day. [SL]

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

Metalcore veterans August Burns Red have brought a surplus of heavy to London with them, and tear through tracks from their seventh record ‘Found In Far Away Places’ sounding as tight as ever. Vocalist William Luhrs is looking ripped and has buckets full of energy to blow during their set. He upstages all of the newcomers in Ally Pally with his destructive presence, but shows his lighter side during the country and western interlude in ‘Majoring In Minors’. The Pennsylvania band are clearly very proud of their new material, but the finale of ‘Empire’ turns it up a notch to set a serious benchmark for the new wave to beat. [MH]

Metro Station draw in a pretty impressive crowd, but it’s mostly full of people with expressions of intrigue, confusion, and mockery rather than genuine excitement. We’re wondering how a band who hit their peak several years ago (and were barely at an all-time high then) even ended up on the bill, and once Trace Cyrus comes on stage looking like a sleazy Stacee Jaxx character and is only just audible over the synth, we’re even more baffled. They get a few points thrown in for playing the songs that rekindle memories of embarrassing teenage house parties, but in general their dreadful sound, terrible vocals, and cringe-worthy stage presence make for a poor show. [SL]

Vans Warped Tour has drifted away from its punk rock roots in the last few years, and is regularly packed with the latest troupe of American metalcore bands. Hollywood based trio Ghost Town have somehow emerged onto the circuit despite appearing to play around 25% of their music live, and at one stage during their half an hour set leave the hard working drummer to it for a whole song. Die-hard fans sing along to big single ‘You’re So Creepy’, but the whole performance is a big disappointment, especially after a decent acoustic showing at the Warped UK warm-up party. [MH]


This year’s Warped Tour UK event has invested and relied a lot in co-headliners Asking Alexandria and Black Veil Brides, and by the count of t-shirts on people’s backs today it seems to have paid off. Much of the buzz surrounding Asking Alexandria of late is new boy Denis Stoff replacing Danny Worsnop on lead vocals. The impressive nature of rebranding with a new voice and remaining in such high popularity has bumped AA up line-ups, and has even seen the band with day time mainstream radio play with new single, ‘I Won’t Give In’. Today’s performance has some serious weight in the production department, with the fire and lights standing out more than the band. Whispers of Stoff‘s similarities to Oli Sykes sweep throughout the audience, and there are very large question marks surrounding vivid use of backing tracks across the board. However, the Ukranian singer does give big hitters ‘The Death Of Me’ and ‘Not The American Average’ a new lease of life, and the visual show is looking very smart indeed. Perhaps not the most inspiring act of the day and maybe this wasn’t the vision for Warped Tour 20 years ago, but the fans here are ecstatic and Asking Alexandria are still on the rise. [MH]

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

Pop-punk arrives at Vans Warped Tour UK! Man Overboard bring a more typical sound to Ally Pally with their upbeat skate songs. ‘Where I Left You’ and fan favourite ‘Love Your Friends, Die Laughing’ please the onlooking banana at the front, and the New Jersey rockers manage to spread some excitement into the main room and kick off the first circle pit of the day. After a glimpse into new album ‘Heavy Love’, it’s ‘Montrose’ that warms the vocal chords of the London crowd and proves it a worthy trip over the water for Man Overboard. [MH]

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.


ANTI-FLAG – 8/10
If metal isn’t your thing, an alternative headliner has been provided in the form of punk outfit Anti-Flag. Always guaranteed to put on a show, it’s a safe bet that Anti-Flag will satisfy anyone who isn’t part of the BVB Army, which they make pretty clear they are not. When a fight breaks out in the mosh pit, the band pause ‘Turncoat’ and order the lads to kiss and make up or get out, and it’s obvious this is a very different kind of show. “We don’t hurt each other in here” Chris ‘#2’ Barker says before launching himself back across the stage with aplomb as the song continues. An Anti-Flag set isn’t complete without an emphatic speech or two, but if that isn’t your thing you can lose yourself in the crazy energy and unparalleled passion of their performance instead. With songs like ‘The Press Corpse’ and ‘One Trillion Dollars’, these guys pack a huge punch. There may only be a couple hundred punk fans in this room, but there’s enough life, spirit, and love to rival anywhere else in London. [SL]

After bad mouthing essentially every other band playing today, Frank Carter gets down to serious business and continues where he left off in Gallows by opening up the whole room to a monster circle pit for new single, ‘Juggernaut’. The self-confessed angry ginger cunt is happy to be the pin-up bad guy with his one of a kind behaviour, but surely even he couldn’t predict how good some of these Rattlesnakes songs were going to be. ‘Devil Inside Me’ hits all of the right spots with a raging riff, and ‘I Hate You’ is so poetically evil yet beautiful, it will have you re-thinking every song you’ve ever heard. There won’t ever be a dull moment when Frank has that microphone in his hand, and this new project is looking just too good to ignore. [MH]

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

For a band that are usually an acquired taste at festivals like this, Fearless Vampire Killers create one of the best atmospheres of the day. They seem to be a big hit before they even enter stage and, for goth-punks who dress in black and play songs about the living dead (‘All Hallows Evil’, ‘Braindead’, ‘Say What You Want From Me’, etc.), that’s probably a pleasant surprise. Again, another band to suffer from the poor soundcheck of having a split stage means that the vocals are a little all over the place, but the crowd don’t seem to care, showing some of the most vigorous enthusiasm we’ve seen so far. Their set is solid, albeit over all too quickly, and they seem to have as much fun as the energetic crowd, which is always great to see. [SL]

For most of the crowd watching Forever Came Calling, the band represents a life seen in videos made by American pop-punk bands that Brits can only dream of; palm trees in the background, hanging out with buds, and playing skate punk in the garage all summer. The Californians play fast and look like they’re having a ball as singer Joe Candelaria leads the band through pit-friendly hit, ‘Wish You Well’. The crowd can fully appreciate the genuine pleasure and passion put into the music, and reciprocate the smiles on the faces on stage during finisher ‘Front Porch Sunrise’. [MH]

“If you don’t know who we are, we’re a band called Asking Alexandria” shouts The Kenneths lead singer Josh Weller, fooling nobody. The London trio are winning people over all over the shop as their snide remarks about certain bands on the bill go down a treat, but it’s fast punk tracks ‘Cool As You’ and ‘What Happened To The Radio?’ that cement them as that band to check out when you get home. A fun cowbell solo in ‘Never Good Friends’ is the icing on the tent, and a great opportunity seized by The Kenneths with class. [MH]


There was always a mysterious hype surrounding Young Guns back in the day that people either lapped up with gusto or gave a seriously wide berth, and the band have seemed to thrive from this divide in opinion. When it was announced that they were back with a new album this year, it seemed inevitable that fans would whip themselves up into a frenzy once again, and that’s exactly what has happened today. While Young Guns might not be the most hard-hitting, explosive, exciting band on offer here today, their live show has improved wildly, appearing more vivacious and enthused than ever before. Their new music is accepted, but it’s with old tracks such as ‘Bones’ that Young Guns really prove their worth. They’re back, and the fans love it. [SL]

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

The hugely improved Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! have drawn a sizeable crowd to the Jägermeister Stage despite direct competition from Memphis May Fire in the main room, and their fans are happy to see the Parisian band get through a mixture of new and old material and, of course, that cover of Smash Mouth‘s hit, ‘All Star’. ‘In Friends We Trust’ closes with a mass clap along for the French pop-punk/metalcore crossover kings who can’t help but go from strength to strength every time they visit the UK. [MH]

ROAM – 6/10
One of the freshest pop-punk bands the UK has to offer, ROAM are a welcome addition to the day’s bill. The crowd seem a little uncertain of them – given that they are mostly metal fans and ROAM are only just making their way onto the pop-punk circuit, that’s hardly surprising – but the majority stick with them, and no doubt made a good decision in doing so. The band give off the impression of being humble inbetween songs, a little nervous and self-deprecating at times, but when they launch into songs like the sharp, upbeat ‘Nothing In Return’ and the raw, punky ‘Head Rush’, they shake off any feelings of hesitation and finish off on a strong, fun, and confident note. [SL]

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

TWIN WILD – 6/10
The long and delayed queue outside Alexandra Palace is great news for London rockers Twin Wild as the conveniently placed Jägermeister Stage means that everyone strolls past upon entrance and stops for a quick listen. Being the sole band on encourages more people to wrap their ears around ‘Fears’, and, although it’s possibly softer than most of the attendees are used to, it’s certainly worth the slowed walk on the way to everyone’s preferred stage destination. [MH]


HECK – 8/10
“Can we please have some gaffer tape?” It can’t be that unusual to hear during a Heck show, as the infamously devastating Nottingham band cause their normal havoc throughout the Kevin Says Stage, room, bar, and ceiling. The ex-Baby Godzilla mob have proved themselves as a riot all over the UK, but now have to match themselves on their journey as a new band. ‘The Great Hardcore Swindle’ and ‘The Three Legged Race’ still sound great, but how about that album, eh boys? [MH]

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

CREEPER – 8/10
Creeper can’t seem to shake off the My Chemical Romance similarities, yet on this showing the band wouldn’t sound out of place playing with Pennywise or AFI. There’s certainly a theatrical element to Creeper, but with two excellent EPs under their belt and a fanbase picking up some serious momentum they’re on top of the world right now, and this performance is a first class example why. ‘Into The Black’ starts a full room shouting as loud as possible, and such a reception for a song that’s been out as short a time as ‘The Hollywood Suite’ hits home that this band are really making it. Vans Warped Tour UK is officially part of the Creeper Cult. [MH]

Dutch rockers John Coffey haven’t been over to the UK much, but have made a huge effort to drive to London from their sold out show in Amsterdam last night for a rare treat. Their Every Time I Die meets Kvelertak guitars sound massive live and compliment the infectious gang vocals that the band throw about with such ease in songs like ‘Broke Neck’ and the killer ‘Romans’. A viral video of singer David Achter de Molen catching and sinking a beer during a show kickstarted the band’s surge in 2015, but it’s astonishing to think that they haven’t made a larger dent over here when ‘Oh, Oh, Calamity’ causes carnage throughout the Kevin Says Stage. [MH]

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

Written by Mike Heath (@MikeBeef) and Sam Lawrie (@SamLawrie)

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