It was Thursday July, 10, 2014 at 10:30 am. Kids filled the parking lots and loitered outside the venue gates as part of a yearly ritual. And by kids I mean a mess of people between the ages of 13-25 with a reluctant parent thrown into the mix here and there. Sweat already started to bead on people’s foreheads from the unforgiving morning sun. Fans were literally bouncing on their toes waiting for the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA to open their flood gates, and when 11:00 am came around, everyone surged toward the main line fighting to be the first ones in.
Being probably the only twenty year old who has never been to Warped Tour before, I was curious and eager as I stepped into this new realm. The first thing I saw were tents, lots and lots of tents. Food tents, merch tents, band tents, and I found myself appreciating the fact that people wake up at ungodly hours to set all of this up for fans. It is not hard to grasp the fact that Warped Tour is a miracle to many people and I got to witness it on it’s 20th anniversary.
I quickly asked for direction to the much heard of “bulletin board” that lists all the set times and stages so that I can organize my day. From there I headed over to the Kia Electric Soul stage to photograph The Devil Wears Prada’s set. Having never seen them live before I, again, had no idea what to expect, but by the looks of the very sizable crowd behind me I figured I was in for a good time. It was a good guess. I think the best word to describe their set in its entirety was “explosive.” Lead singer, Mike Hranica, ripped across the stage and lunged toward the crowd as he screamed as loud as his lungs would allow. The crowd behind me screamed back, dove over each other, circle pits formed, and bodies surfed across the sea of people and were spit out into the photo pit. I actually had to dodge a few of them.
From there, I headed over to the Warheads stage to catch the groovy Boston band, Bad Rabbits. A completely different vibe from the last stage I was at, but just as fun. Synchronized two-step dance moves lead by lead singer, Fredua Boakye and backed by bandmates SheelDavé, Salim Akram, Graham Masser, and Santiago Araujo. This band surpassed the head-nodding-toe-tapping stage of a set and dove right into the heart and soul of “funk”. The pit instantly transformed into a dance floor and nobody was being shy. If you have never heard of or seen Bad Rabbits, I strongly suggest you do both.
At 2:15 Echosmith graced the Journey’s stage and a huge crowd followed. The great thing about having a band like Echosmith on Warped Tour is that they bring something new and different to the mostly punk/pop-punk table. Not only that, but it was great to see how well they were received by the Warped goers. The sibling quartet stormed the stage to meet the impatient fans. Lead singer, Sydney Sierota, twirled and jumped around on-stage, flanked by her three energetic brothers, Jaime, Noah, and Graham. When they played their hit single, “Cool Kids,” the fans overflowed with excitement and their voices took over the amphitheater within seconds. It’s no question that Echosmith have become a Warped favorite.
The second Boston native band of the day, Pvris, took the Ernie Ball stage at 5:35 pm. Whether it was the sun or just the sheer talent of this group, their set was hot, sweaty, and emotional. To say the crowd was welcoming is an understatement. The strong lead singer, Lynn Gunn poured her heart out to eager ears and people sang her words back like hymns in church. If there was any place to be at that point in time, it was Pvris’ set. If you missed it you should be upset with yourself.
The last band of the day was also the most anticipated. The Story So Far took the Kia Electric Soul stage at 7:15. To be a fan watching their set that day was to live inside the word “claustrophobia.” When I stood on the tips of my toes to look out across the crowd I saw no end. A full days worth of anticipation unleashed within an hour. I honestly don’t think I could hear Parker Cannon’s voice over the crowds singing. Crowd surfers kept coming in waves and crashing into the photo pit, testing my agility skills. The Story So Far is the kind of band that makes you wish you could write songs and command a stage the way they do and make it look easy. They are a band with talent, heart, and passion.
Like all good things, the July 10th Warped Tour date came to an end. Tents were broken down along with stages, sunburnt and dehydrated teens dragged themselves back to their cars as they debriefed the day to their friends. For some it was the pinnacle of their summer, for others it was just the beginning, but to all it will be a day about adventure, community, and most importantly, the love of music.