Vans Warped Tour 2015: Mud and Metal

The summer concert season is finally upon us and is in full swing. Warped tour made a pit stop to Darien Lake as it does every year. This was their 21st year of being on the road and they have been pushing every year to be even fresher and entertaining than the next. They didn’t do so badly this year.DSC_1784-2Upon arrival you could automatically tell this was an event for the younger generations. I’d say the majority of the fans were between 15 and 18 years of age. The line was wrapped around from the front entrance to around the fences at least a quarter-mile back. It was nothing but fouled mouthed scandalously dressed teenagers that were littering all over the place as I walked passed them to the Guest list tent.

The weather could not have been more beautiful. It wasn’t too hot and it was a rain free day. The afternoon before we had hours worth of rain so the ground was pretty soggy and wet. My converse and calves were covered in mud by the end of the night.

Taking a walk around and scoping out the area, I had never been to Warped Tour so wanted to see what they had to offer besides the 10 stages of music. In the middle of the event strategically placed in rows like a carnival setting they had band’s tents where you could buy merch or shoot the breeze with them. So I took a peek and continued down the hill to where my favorite part of the event happened.DSC_2122I met the one of my biggest influences in life, Adam Elmakias. I have been following his work for couple years now and he is everything I wanted to be in life. Adam surprisingly is not even a year older than me. His job is to go on tour with bands and photograph their everyday lives on the road, on and off stage. I was little star struck but not the Justin Bieber fan kind. I took my picture with him and shot the breeze for a brief moment. He gives me hope that one day I’ll go on tour with a band and take pictures. That’s my dream in life.

The Unicorn stage was second in command that night. If you have never seen Family Force 5 I recommend seeing them at least once. They were highly entertaining on the stage. Their retro bright straight out of the ’80s fashion-wear, to the trampoline jumping on stage kept things fresh and new. These guys brought so much stimulation to the stage I couldn’t look away.

DSC_1084-2 - CopyI have a couple of friends that just love everything about Attila. I’m sorry but I can’t see what the hubbub is about. Sure they were wonderful to photograph, but vocally and lyrically it left a bitter taste in my mouth. Their first song right out of the gate was called “Middle finger”. Crowd was nothing but obsessed with this song. Then when they started singing their second song “Rage” all hell broke loose. The crowd surfing and moshing began and was in full force, as a photographer in the pit when that happens can become a dangerous scenario if you are not aware of your surroundings. The only thing I enjoyed about Attila’s set was that they had life plastic red garbage cans set up filled with beach balls. The idea behind this was to give the fans the balls and have them play some beer pong.

Most of the melodic hardcore bands or borderline metal bands were placed in the far back on the Monster stage. I found myself unable to be peeled away from this particular setup, as most of the bands there were so tight on point. There are a few worth mentioning that were really pleasant to listen to as well as photograph.DSC_2154Escape the Fate, this band I had been eagerly waiting to see because a couple of people I talked with said they were fantastic live. So upon arrival a few minutes before show time I was pleasantly surprised by the hustle of the stage crew. So as the show began the outfits immediately caught my attention. They seem to match accordingly on stage which I thought was a nice touch. Some bands put in little effort towards appearance and it looks poor on their part. I was not disappointed at all by Escape the Fate. They kept my attention the entire time by delivering such a powerful performance.

Fit For A King, These guys were recently in town for a show at a tiny club called The Waiting Room. I did not attend but from what I understand they put on a great performance, according to a colleague this one trumped over the previous. Front man Ryan Kirby delivered a strong solid performance and newest member who is bassist and clean vocalist Ryan O` Leary was nothing but energy on the stage.

Hard Rock Kevin Says Stage had any miscellaneous band that didn’t quite fit into the pop metal categories. Alvarez Kings I must say out of all the bands on that stage I saw were the most relaxed. They weren’t your typical warped tour kind of band. They were softer and it wasn’t what I normally listen to you, but nevertheless enjoyable. I would certainly go out of my way to listen to them while doing a relaxing activity.

DSC_1054Ernie ball stage was hopping the entire day; it was conveniently placed by the concession stands. This stage is meant for local winners of the Battle of the Bands competition. My favorite part about this is that it’s a truck that has a stage built into it. While I was paying a ridiculous amount for a hot dog that my wallet still hates me for, I couldn’t help but overhear a couple of bands that made me stop and take a listen.

Until We Are Ghosts, Until we are ghost are based out of Rochester, NY which is approximately only hour away from Darien Lake. I have had the pleasure of working with these guys doing live photography for them on several occasions when they come to Buffalo. When I heard they were playing on warped Tour I couldn’t have been happier for them. I have seen how hard they have worked to get here. They deserve it all and more. The guys started off their set with Repression. Vocalist Rob Anders always brings an unbelievable performance every time I’ve seen them. Today was no different.DSC_1251A Story Inspired, These guys are from my hometown of Buffalo, NY. Never previously heard of A Story Inspired until I captured them on the Ernie ball stage in the early afternoon. These guys have clearly become of my go to favorite local bands when I need a heavy music fix; which is often, especially at the gym. The band consists of two vocalists Zachary Mecca, and Josh Karlis. These two are perfectly in sync and I couldn’t peel my eyes away from the stage.  Bassist Noah Elardo is well-known for his “Lion Mane” hair, he used this to his advantage on stage giving the ladies something to be googly-eyed over. These guys were one of my favorite bands by far. Everything about their set was tight and choreography was synced to a T. My hope is to see this band take off and go all the way in this music industry, it shows that they have put every last stitch of energy into their music and would want nothing more.

DSC_1320The Shark stage was one of two stages that had the big named veteran musicians on. The first major headlining band to kick things off on the Shark stage at was Silverstein. I listened to these guys a little bit in high school. They brought their aggressive melodic punk style in full swing. Shane Told and his band brought their best to the stage Wednesday. Second song in they played “Smile in Your Sleep”. This song got the crowd screaming and starting mosh pits.

August Burns Red is from our friendly bordering state Pennsylvania. Vocalist Jake Luhrs and his band have been together for just about 13 years now and their sound was spot on. Drummer Matt Griener had such great dynamic drumming, and their lyrics and sound are so skillfully crafted to make it their own.

Quintet group Blessthefall was one of those bands, a forced to be reckoned with that day. They are a melodicore band from Arizona. These guys brought and left every last ounce of energy on the stage. The vocal presence of Beau Bokan was undeniably the strongest I heard all day. They opened up with “you wear the crown but you’re no king”. The middle of their set they played one of their most popular songs 2.0. This is primarily a song they are known for.DSC_2383

Asking Alexandria was one of the last bands to close out the evening at approximately 8pm. They had introduced their new singer Denis Stoff. He certainly brought his own flavor and did justice to all of their harder songs. I was impressed by them all around and thought they put on a good performance and kept the crowd enticed for the entire performance. Once they started singing “Breathless” The crowd just lost their minds. Moshing began and extreme crowd surfing commenced.

Well my very first Warped Tour was a success. I Spent approximately nine hours shooting and walked away with a little sunburn, muddy covered shoes and feet that felt like they were going to fall off; but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. All the bands brought their own flavor and it was enjoyable for all on one level or another. I will see you next year Warped Tour 22.

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