LIVE REVIEW + PHOTOS: Warped Tour – Hartford, CT – 7/13/14

Issues by Kelly Hamilton

As far as summer festivals go, the Vans Warped Tour is the place to be and thousands of kids turned up to see some old and new favorites on July 13th in Hartford, Connecticut.

Opening the day were theatrical hardcore favourites Crown The Empire. The band performed ahead of their newest release The Resistance: Rise Of The Runaways but were enthusiastic to tease fans by performing a few new tracks before they could hear the studio versions. Their stage presence was theatrical enough to wake those still a little lethargic due to the early hour of the morning, with some members sporting the skull bandanas worn in their latest video for “Machines.” They translated their look and performance flawlessly between their staged video work and live sets making them a pleasure to watch.

Upon their climax, just next to them, Mayday Parade were starting. Playing a myriad of older tracks, they tugged on the heart strings of fans who had been listening for years, reminding those in the crowd why they loved Mayday in the first place. Their energy was electric, they are a solid band who continue to produce quality music that everyone can sing along to.

There was a warm welcome for crowd favourites The Word Alive at the Monster Energy stage, where fans cheered at the mere mention of “Real,” the band’s newest album released. A few songs from it were played, balanced alongside with a few more well known tracks.

If Mod Sun is to be praised for anything, it should be his ability to entertain. He self-describes his sound as an audible smile and it is exactly that. While on stage he couldn’t shake his own happy demeanor as he moved sporadically across the space he had, and the crowd was going right along with him. The wave of limbs fused with his signature ‘hippy hop’ tracks were a sure win for the day.

Playing right after on the Journeys stage is Atlanta/Los Angeles six piece Issues. In the short time span that they have been a band, they have come leaps and bounds and it showed as the amphitheater was packed almost to the brim to hear them play. For a while they have been playing a mix of the same set, a compilation of tracks from their Black Diamonds EP with one or two songs added in. However Warped saw the introduction of some extra new tracks being played live and they were received even better than the old.

The Kia Electric Soul stage was graced with the presence of Falling In Reverse who displayed their upbeat, and often confusing, array of genres. Paired with the interesting display of facial expressions from Ronnie Radke, the set all seemed rather comedic but fans seemed to be lapping it up. It’s important to note, also, how Max Green – former Escape The Fate bassist – fit right in. The ‘bury the hatchet tour’ seemingly had done nothing but foreshadow the inevitability of Max jumping ship sometime after it’s climax but that’s not at all a bad thing.

One stage over is unstoppable force The Devil Wears Prada. They are one of the few consistent bands that haven’t suffered a slew of lineup changes in their time together. Though there wasn’t too much interaction with the crowd, screamer Mike Hranica had no trouble drawing people in with his unusual antics. Hanging off of a banner and clambering onto a speaker and sitting almost childlike as if he were in the chair of a giant.

Perhaps the most standout performance out of Warped Tour this year was of Breathe Carolina. Their electro-pop sound sets them apart from the rest but that doesn’t dampen their popularity, perhaps because they are incredibly entertaining live. Before the set is even in full swing, giant ‘Breathe Carolina’ beach balls were being chucked into the jittering crowd. Nobody was able to stand still for any moment, especially not when bandmates David Schmitt and Tommy Coops ride the waves of hands in the crowd in a pair of inflatable boats. They worked every angle they have in an impressive fashion, getting some help here and there from fellow bands on the tour whether to just hype up the crowd or help on a song or two.

Ten years after their inception, Cute Is What We Aim For were ready to perform to a stream of nostalgic fans and boy do they deliver. Classic tracks of their infectious pop-rock sound are what filled their set. For anyone that would have wanted to see Cute Is What We Aim For, they would want to hear “There’s A Class For This” or “Curse Of Curves” – the songs that most fans would have gone through high school listening to and the band were enthusiastic in giving fans exactly what they want.

Lastly, bringing their indie-pop to close the Journeys stage is Echosmith, the last band of the day. They have come far in the scene over the past year and are performing their second stint on Warped. They are young, with vocalist Sydney Sierota at only seventeen, but they hold an abundance of talent. It seems almost easy for them as they flow through one song to another and it’s clear to see their hearts are completely into it which only drew in more and more people to their set. There’s a heartwarming moment close to the end of the set when they bring a couple onto the stage and silence lays over the amphitheatre as a proposal follows. Roaring cheers echo throughout when the answer is ‘yes’ and an elated Echosmith close out with “Nothing’s Wrong.”

Review and photos by Kelly Hamilton