As I walked around the Uniondale, New York, stop of this year’s Warped Tour, the only thing I could think was, “When did the Warped Tour become the best, most progressive showcase for metal?”
Traditionally the tour had been the domain for punk rock and alternative music, but after taking in blistering sets by Asking Alexandria, A Day to Remember, Devil Wears Prada, August Burns Red, Black Veil Brides, We Came As Romans, Miss May I, Winds of Plague and Woe, Is Me, I started thinking the punks had just beaten heavy metal fests like Mayhem and Uproar at their own game.
Despite the extreme heat of the day — it was around 100 degrees by noon — Asking Alexandria in particular impressed. I had seen AA play earlier this year at the beginning of their tour and was less than overwhelmed. What a difference a couple months have made! The band played with polished confidence through a set that was a marvel of dynamics.
As the songs snaked through a series of punishing breakdowns, soaring choruses and techno-inspired interludes, it was almost if they were playing one long, hypnotic song.
August Burns Red was more direct, but just as impressive. Like an old school thrash band, ABR has the ability to deliver a memorable choruses without diminishing the power of their music. But perhaps the biggest surprise was supremely poppy A Day to Remember. On recordings, their power is often sublimated to their sing-along hooks, but live, the equation is reversed. The heavy undercurrent is pushed to the forefront, making them surprisingly powerful.
I saw at least 10 bands play and none of them were remotely bad, including hot sets by Devil Wears Prada, Set Your Goals and Of Mice And Men.
Watch your backs, Mayhem and Uproar; there’s a new metal head in town — even if they do wear a little too much guy-liner from time-to-time!
Brad Tolinski is the editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine.