Images: Vans Warped Tour feat. Sick Of It All, Sworn In, Tonight We Fight and more June 23, 2017 at The Backyard Outdoor Events Center at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

The last time I went to Warped Tour was three years ago, when I was 17 and the lineup, the venue, and my excitement levels were all drastically different. This year, I was confused about the festival layout and ambivalent about the majority of the bands playing- TMI, but I didn’t even bother putting on makeup or shaving my legs beforehand. And I wouldn’t normally be caught dead at a show without makeup, but I digress. I felt a bit like a mom, as our photographer, Margaret, had to show me around the Hard Rock Hotel and explain to me who a bunch of the musicians were. But honestly? Despite feeling out of place at times, I had a lot more fun than I thought I would (I know, I know- don’t tell anyone). And now I know the Hard Rock Hotel much better than I ever wanted to.

We rushed through two security checkpoints to get into The Joint, where the two Journeys Stages were. We ended up catching the tail end of rapper Watsky’s set, which gave me an emotion that was an amalgamation of tickled, nostalgic, and slightly embarrassed. I saw him at Warped three years ago, so I was totally reliving my high school days, and was surprised that I still knew all of the words to what used to be one of my favorite songs ever, “Sloppy Seconds.” As the end of the set grew nearer, a stream of young teenagers entered The Joint in anticipation for Hands Like Houses, who were playing next. And damn, did I feel old.

Despite having no idea who Hands Like Houses were, I stayed for their set, largely at my friend Jay’s urging. He told me that they were “one of [his] favorite scenie weenie bands” and I just had to see them, if only to make fun of him for it later. Despite the huge crowd, there was no mosh pit, but almost everyone in the crowd was singing along passionately, including Jay. I was more entertained by the juxtaposition between the clean-cut Trenton Woodley and his scruffier, hairier band members. But I have to give it to Hands Like Houses- they’re catchy, and definitely a band that 14-year-old, angst-ridden Jazmin would have listened to.

After a brief Moscow Mule break, my friends and I returned to the Journey Stages to see Dance Gavin Dance. Despite them being the rulers of middle school emo kid music libraries, I think I had heard maybe one Dance Gavin Dance song ever in my life. Apparently, they’ve gone through a lot of stylistic changes, but I found myself actually enjoying their current incarnation, which had a lot of prog rock and math rock influences. Jay was pretty smug about that, as he had told me multiple times before the set that he thought I’d like “how technical they are now.” I was also impressed by how lead vocalist Tillian Pearson’s voice didn’t crack, considering I couldn’t even get my voice as high as he did.

Overall, the first few hours of Warped Tour were for me how vegetables are for little kids: not the best, but you gotta put up with ‘em to get to the good stuff, aka ice cream, or in my case, “old people” punk bands.

At the beginning of Warped, I was annoyed by how spread out everything was, but that all changed as soon as I dipped my feet into the pool. The festival wasn’t quite crowded yet, giving me a little time to relax before Bad Cop/Bad Cop came on. I had just started to come around to BCBC when I saw them live for the first time in November, and I’m not sure what it was, but this time around I absolutely fell in love. All four members were clearly ready for an afternoon of music, sporting swimsuits and freshly dyed hair (as someone with purple hair, trust me, it’s important). They played a healthy mix of old favorites and tracks off of their freshly released record Warriors, earning them a circle pit in the pool. My friends were all enamored with bassist Linh Le’s dance moves, but the entire band’s energy was infectious during songs like “Nightmare” and “I’m Done.”

I’d been hoping to see more of the Adolescents’ set, but they were playing the pool stage, which appeared to be the only stage running on “Punk Time.” Makes sense, considering it had bands with members older than the majority of Warped’s musicians. Unfortunately, it meant I had to choose between bands, and how could I miss the only ska band playing Warped this year?

Prior to this year’s Warped Tour, I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to see Save Ferris live. As soon as their set began with “What You See Is What You Get,” I was blown away by how good Monique Powell’s voice was live, and by her sassy stage presence. It sounds incredibly dorky, but all I could think of when looking at her was, “What a performer! That’s a frontperson if I ever saw one.” Powell reminded the crowd that Save Ferris had played Warped Tour in 1998 and 2000 as well, no doubt before many of the audience members were even born. Speaking of the crowd… at first I was disappointed by all of the dead fish, meaning young teens who probably don’t even know what skanking is. At one point, Powell even demonstrated. Thankfully a skank pit eventually started.

Warped Tour definitely grew on me, especially as the day progressed. Truthfully, I wouldn’t mind covering it again. But if it’s at the Hard Rock Hotel again: please, people, get your shit together. The signs indicating the stages locations were inadequate and some of the signs didn’t even get put up until hours into the festival.

-Jazmin Boulton

Gallery by Margaret Schmitt |

About the author  ⁄ Jazmin Boulton

Just a broke college kid with an affinity for ska/punk and writing. @alaSKApunk

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