Live: Braving the Heat — Vans Warped Tour 2011

SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK — 6/25/11: The H-town stop of the Vans Warped Tour was held this year at The Showgrounds at Sam Houston Race Park, and as always, Warped had something for everyone’s taste, with 66 bands on multiple stages. Houston was the second stop of the Tour, which started in Dallas on June 24 and ended in Hillsboro, OR., on August 14. Over the years the demographics have changed quite a bit, with metalcore bands being the majority of the lineup this time around. Yeah, Warped has changed a lot even since the first year I went, back in 2005.

I’d thought arriving at 11AM, right when the doors opened, was a good idea, but I was very wrong — by that time, The Showgrounds at Sam Houston were already crowded, and parking lots were getting full.

Thousands of people were awaiting entry, with lines just to go wait in a line. The majority of the people were teens and people in their 20s, but there were a fair number of older people, as well — at first, I thought they were there because of their kids, but it turned out that many were actually there on their own.

A few stages got going right away at 11:20AM, like A Skylit Drive, who I did not go see. The first band of the day for me was Asking Alexandria, who were the first ones to rock out the main stage at 12PM. It was still pretty early, but the crowd was huge and crowd-surfing was a must!

Less Than Jake came on the main stage at 1PM with their best-known material. Even though I didn’t get to see their full set, I managed to hear the last couple of songs right before August Burns Red took hold of the stage. As soon as ABR came out, the chaos started — tons of kids were crowd-surfing, multiple mosh pits were going on, and bottles were being tossed in the air. They played songs from Messengers, Constellations, and new album Leveler.

The next band I saw was Relient K; they played to a smaller crowd on the Nintendo 3DS stage. Known for for their melodic songwriting and all-around good music, they had everyone singing along as they played some of their best-known songs — they even included a cover of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” from their cover EP Is for Karaoke.

A Day To Remember had to be the band with the biggest crowd. As soon as they were about to start, everyone was running from every direction to catch their performance. As always, the band put on a great show, having one of the best performances of the day. Playing their most-known songs, as well as old favorites, they had everyone going crazy in the crowd.

People gathered at the main stage at 6PM for a performance from 3OH3!, and their crowd was almost as big as the ADTR crowd. They entertained with their catchy, upbeat songs, as people started breakdancing in the midddle of the crowd. Before their performance was over, I walked over to the Advent Stage to see Miss May I.

This year was Miss May I’s first Warped Tour, and also my first time seeing them live — the best thing about them, in my book, is that they are one of the only new-ish metal bands with no keyboard. Even though their crowd wasn’t big, and they were on a side stage this year, I can guarantee they’ll be on the main stage in the next couple of years. Attack Attack!, who were on a side stage in 2009, had one of the biggest crowds on the main stage this year.

Simple Plan played at 7:20PM, but by that time I didn’t even feel like standing any more — the heat was finally taking a toll on me. So after I took a few shots of the band, I went to sit down and waited for The Devil Wears Prada. They were the last band to play, at 8PM, and the band I had waited all day to see. TDWP is one of those bands who skips Houston every time they tour, which is one of the reasons why they had such a big crowd. Their crowd was one of the biggest despite the fact that many people had already left by the time they hit the stage.

To be honest, I felt like a 13-year-old fangirl, who wanted to scream, “I love you!,” at the sight of Mike Hranica and the sound of his vocals. They played songs from every album, and even their single “Born to Lose,” from their new album Dead Throne, which comes out September 13th. Everyone in the crowd sang/screamed along with Hranica, in perfect sync. They were the perfect way to end the day and made my Warped Tour visit worthwhile.

Even though Warped is mainly about the music, it’s also a way for nonprofits and merchants to set up shop and sell, inform, and advertise, as well as a way for upcoming bands to build up their fan base. The signings/meet and greets had lines so long you didn’t know where one ended or started. Lots of fans wanted to shake hands, get autographs, and take pictures with members of their favorite bands.

My favorite thing about Warped is that you can’t ever get bored — there is always a band rocking out on stage, and there is always something to do, with tents to watch TV, play video games, get free Monster Drinks, play games to win free stuff, or just to chill in AC with your friends. There were plenty of ways to stay hydrated under the intense Houston sun, of course; there were vendors selling over-priced bottles of water and Gatorade, but there were also ways to refill your bottles for free.

Spending a total of 10 hours in the outrageous Houston heat was a physically demanding experience, but despite the 100-degree weather, fans came out to see their favorite bands and enjoy one of the most eagerly-awaited festivals of the summer. END


Bands I Saw:
12:00 — Asking Alexandria
1:00 — Less Than Jake
2:00 — August Burns Red
3:00 — Relient K
5:00 — A Day To Remember
6:00 — 3OH3!
6:20 — Miss May I
7:20 — Simple Plan
8:00 — The Devil Wears Prada

(Photos: Ben Bruce, Asking Alexandria; Jake Luhrs, August Burns Red; Jeremy McKinnon, A Day To Remember; Pierre Bouvier, Simple Plan; Mike Hranica, The Devil Wears Prada. All photos by Ana Pacheco.)

Live review by . Live review posted Tuesday, August 30th, 2011. Filed under Features, Live Reviews.

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