VANS WARPED TOUR: Coral Sky Amphitheatre @ The South Florida Fairgrounds / West Palm Beach, FL / August 5, 2018

August 9, 2018 by: admin
Sydney Dolezal of Doll Skin, owning the West Palm pit.

Coral Sky Amphitheatre
@ The South Florida Fairgrounds
West Palm Beach, FL / August 5, 2018

By Christopher Long

Sunscreen, sunglasses, floppy hat — check. Comfy T-shirt, shorts, sneakers — check. Bottled water, phone charger, debit card — check. Earplugs — huh? Okay, let’s do this — one last time.

It was a concept that should have been doomed from the start — a sweat-soaked cavalcade featuring an eclectic collective of tattoo-covered underground bands, hitting open fields, fairgrounds, parking lots and amphitheaters across the country. Yet, nearly a quarter of a century later, the Vans Warped Tour has become an iconic institution — a steamy, annual summertime excursion that defines modern-day counterculture. But as they say, “all good things must come to an end.” And today, in West Palm Beach, the Vans Warped Tour prepped for its swan song performance.

I made great new friends at Warped Tour 2018.

“We flew under the radar. It was a DYI tour, very much.
It hasn’t changed a whole lot. It’s just known now.”
-Kevin Lyman (Founder of the Vans Warped Tour)

Jordan Crain of Blessing a Curse, promoting his band’s West Palm performance.

Street corner profits, peddling pamphlets and other forms of “cultural” propaganda already had infiltrated the Coral Sky Amphitheatre perimeters by 10am. Early bird musicians also were in full force in and around the venue — hocking their bands, passing out CDs, distributing flyers and waving banners promoting their respective showtimes and stage locations — long before the gates were set to open at 10:30.

Enthusiasts numbering in the tens of thousands would ultimately converge on the concert site — from the mascara-molten mavens seeking solace through the inspiration of their emo messiahs, to the testosterone-driven teens eager to (once again) forearm friends, family and strangers in various hard core vomit pits to the sea of super-youngins ready (or not) for their first Warped Tour experience to open-minded parents waiting (semi) patiently for the annual ritual to come to a conclusion. Although offering “something for everybody” is no easy task, it’s an endeavor in which the Warped Tour has succeeded for decades. And this year’s “final hurrah” outing would be no exception.

Kevin Jordan of This Wild Life.

Alex Garcia of Mayday Parade.

Real Friends

With brutal temperatures and the scorching sun blazing at the various uncovered stages positioned throughout the fairgrounds, the legendary Journeys Left Foot and Right Foot stages would offer thousands of fans welcomed, much-needed shady relief from under the Coral Sky pavilion.

“We play prescription-strength emotional music,” announced frontman / guitarist Kevin Jordan as This Wild Life kicked off the daylong event on the Right Foot stage at 11:30. Comprised of Jordan along with musical partner and multi-instrumentalist, Anthony Del Grosso, the acoustic-based California duo was received warmly as they performed a fistful of hypnotic tracks from the just-released record, Petaluma.

The show’s tempo picked up considerably in short order as Florida’s own Mayday Parade arrived on the Left Foot stage at noon. “There’s nothing else in the world like Vans Warped Tour,” proclaimed frontman, Derek Sanders, as his guitar-driven combo unleashed a high-octane set featuring such fan favorites as “Black Cat” and “Piece of Your Heart.” Without skipping a beat, the adjacent Right Foot stage was ignited immediately at 12:30 by a snappy, hook-laden set from the Illinois-birthed brigade, Real Friends.

Nicole Rich of Doll Skin.

Johhny Silva of Assuming We Survive.

Benjamin Langford-Biss and Patty Walters of As It Is.

Surrounded by a menagerie of sponsor booths and band merch tents, the outdoor stage provided a temporary home for the scrappy combo, Doll Skin, when the girls from Phoenix stormed the scene at 12:50. With each member sporting delicious-looking, neon-colored coifs, Doll Skin was bursting with contagious energy — like a tanker-sized bowl of magical Skittles had been dumped from heaven. Possessing complete rock-ribbed confidence, frontchick, Sydney Dolezal, captured the true essence of the Warped Tour, announcing to her band’s throngs of faithful followers, “If you don’t feel like you belong anywhere else, you’re part of this family.” Despite being known widely as one of America’s most exciting new bands, a super-shiny Doll Skin highlight was the jaw-dropping remake of Led Zeppelin’s 1969 classic, “Whole Lotta Love.” Out of the mouths of babes, indeed!

“Are you ready for the last Warped Tour?” inquired co-founding frontman, Adrian Estrella, as he led his five-piece California crew, Assuming We Survive, onto the Full Sail stage. Amid swirling, arena rock-style guitar twirls, AWS delivered a skull-crushing set featuring such recently released tracks as “Just So You Know” and “California Stoned.”

Back at the stage, the scene was heating up to a state of total melt down during the 1:30 set from the infectious Minneapolis export, As It Is. Frontman, Patty Walters, led the charge boldly as his band marched through sweaty selections from the soon-to-be released album, The Great Depression — turbo-charged tracks, including “The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)” and “The Wounded World.”  However, the 25-minute set was cut short when Walters stopped the show to call out for a medic to be dispatched into the crowd to aid a dehydrated “man down.”

Grayscale crushing the stage.

Tropidelic getting groovy on the Full Sail stage.

1 Hit Left brought old school punk to the Korner stage.

While Australia’s modern rock darling, Tonight Alive, and the hard-hitting U.S. gang, Issues, wrapped up their respective Journeys stage sets, the surprise seduction of the day was set to unfold as British sensation, Don Broco, took the stage at 3:30. Serving up several savory slices from the band’s latest record, Technology, Don Broco dazzled and delighted West Palm Beach fans with such infectious and funky earworms as the opening number, “Everybody,” and the popular video hits, “Come to LA” and “T-Shirt Song.” Dressed as if the members all were revved and ready for a casual day frolicking at the beach, Don Broco proved to be one of the most energetic, entertaining and memorable acts of the day.

Based currently in LA, Palaye Royale returned for a second Warped Tour trek in 2018. Oozing a stylistic allure reminiscent of some of the great British bands from the 1960s, the art rock golden boys met with near-”Budokan”-caliber hysteria from their adoring female fans immediately upon walking onstage. Arguably the most fearless band of the day, guitarist, Sebastian Danzig, flew from the stage to the security barricade in a single leap, while frontman, Remington Leith, hung upside down, suspended by one leg from a stage rafter nearly 20 feet in the air. Impressive and insane, to be sure. The band’s super-charged, straight-up rock set included such staples as “Don’t Feel Quite Right” and the oft played cover of the My Chemical Romance classic, “Teenagers,” as well as “You’ll Be Fine,” from the upcoming new album, Boom Boom Room – Side B.

Rob Damiani of Don Broco

Sebastian Danzig of Palaye Royale

The Doll Skin meet-and-greet truly was a VIP event!

In sum, over the last couple of decades, the Vans Warped Tour has been woven into the fabric of American pop culture. Hence, it has come to mean all things to (nearly) all people. As an adult music fan, the traveling festival resonated with me on a personal level when I first discovered the event during the mid ’90s. Oddly, as a (now) much older music fan, the tour means more to me than ever, as I continue to thrive on its youthful energy. Although the 2018 outing has been billed as the festival’s “last stand,” it also has been suggested that less exhaustive, scaled down versions of the iconic brand may still play out in future years. I hope that’s true. After all, what else do misplaced, disenchanted punks like me have to look forward to in the summer — baseball? I think not!

-Christopher Long
(August 2018)

Vans Warped Tour - Coral Sky Amphitheater - Journeys - - Full Sail - Blessing A Curse - This Wild Life - Mayday Parade - Real Friends - Doll Skin - Assuming We Survive - As It Is - Grayscale - Tropidelic - 1 Hit Left - Tonight Alive - Issues - Don Broco - Palaye Royale - Christopher Long


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