Each summer, Vans Warped Tour makes its rounds throughout the country as the largest travelling music festival and attracts millions of rockers and music enthusiasts. This year, Warped Tour made its annual stop to the KeyBank Pavilion in Burgettstown on Friday, July 14th.
Despite officials changing the gate time from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the eve of the festival to avoid thunderstorms, the remainder of the day was blessed with clear skies, a light breeze, and plenty of sunshine.
While crowds of people, both young and old, waited for entrance into the KeyBank Pavilion grounds, anxious fans could hear final sound checks occurring just beyond the fences and security gates. Once guests were permitted entry into the venue, they scattered in all directions, some visiting their favorite bands’ tents first and others heading to the iconic blowup schedule to plan the long day ahead.
This year’s lineup included a variety of music genres and performers as the tour has done in the past, however, when the lineup was first announced it was described as “exceptionally heavy” by many Warped Tour fans. In spite of being described as “heavy,” the lineup was able to go back to the roots and true essence that originally formed Warped Tour in 1995: punk rock. Some of the most well-known punk bands graced the Warped Tour stages this summer in the grueling heat, including Anti-Flag, a native Pittsburgh band; CKY; The Adolescents; and Save Ferris.
The Acacia Strain Open the Monster Mutant South Stage
Beginning the long day in the afternoon heat, The Acacia Strain opened the Monster Mutant South Stage with a bang. The band’s iconic downbeat drumming and heavy riffs echoed throughout the venue, while frontman Vincent Bennett’s vocal range stood out amongst the other opening bands and performances. Bennett’s deep growl and high-pitched screams, combined with the band’s signature deathcore sound, effortlessly brought the large crowd to their feet during their performance. Fighting back against the blazing heat and beaming sun, hardcore metal heads moshed in the center of the growing audience, setting the tone of the day ahead.
Pittsburgh Natives, Anti-Flag, Rock the Hard Rock Stage
Punk fans and music supporters enthusiastically welcomed Pittsburgh natives, Anti-Flag, to the Hard Rock Stage in the center of the venue. Staying true to their anti-war message and activism, Chris No. 2 proudly stood on stage speaking out against sexism, racism, and homophobia, all while delivering a memorable and crowd-pleasing performance. After pumping up the audience with their anti-hate messages, Anti-Flag transitioned into one of their classic singles, “This Is The End,” while also taking a moment to hold up a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey and praise the team for their back-to-back Stanley Cup victories.
Before closing out their set, the band opened the center of the crowd to bring the drum kit, bass guitar, and mic off of the stage for their finale “Bradenburg Gate.” The already energized audience danced and chanted with the Pittsburgh natives as they finished a flawless performance.
Barb Wire Dolls Rule the Skullcandy Stage
Looking on from the hilly side of the pavilion grounds beneath the shade of the surrounding trees, the Barb Wire Dolls, one of several female-fronted bands on the Warped Tour lineup this year, took their fierce attitude and punk-rock rage onto the Skullcandy Stage. Following Anti-Flag’s politically fueled performance, the lead vocalist of the Barb Wire Dolls, Isis Queen, turned to the audience and said, “We’re from Greece and we play rock n’ roll,” before transitioning into their opening song, “Revolution.”
With a Courtney Love inspired grunginess and a sound comparable to The Runaways, the Barb Wire Dolls captivated the audience pressed against the security gates, while also capturing the attention of passersby and those sitting on the grassy hillside. The Barb Wire Dolls undeniable energy and stage presence throughout their set effortlessly drew in a crowd and set the bar high for the next female-fronted band, War on Women, to play the Skullcandy Stage later that afternoon.
NeverStory Join Warped Tour Dates
As the afternoon progressed, fans could hear heavy bass pedals, grungy vocals, and meticulous guitar techniques ring throughout the hills of the KeyBank Pavilion. But tucked away behind the Full Sail University stage, the intimate Transform Tour tent allowed several artists to play an acoustic set that drew the attention of many. One of the bands playing an acoustic set was Cleveland/Pittsburgh collaboration, NeverStory, a new band founded within the last several weeks that connected with the Transform Tour campaign.
NeverStory consists of four members, Justin Moore (lead vocals), Stephen Rubinosky (guitar/vocals), Mike Robinson (guitar/vocals), and Chris Bochkor (drums). Rubinosky of Pittsburgh described the band’s sound as something between “The Maine and Fall Out Boy,” while Robinson of Cleveland stated “we got a throwback feel to us, but we also stay with the times…we’re current.”
After hearing about the opportunity to join Warped Tour on several dates beginning in Pittsburgh with Transform, the foursome dedicated their time and energy into writing new material for their debut on Friday. Unfortunately, their lead vocalist, Moore, was unable to attend the first date and Rubinosky stepped in as the vocalist for their acoustic set. Bochkor enthusiastically discussed their upcoming single, “Honestly, Probably,” as well as a potential release date for the band’s debut EP. The group is optimistic that they will release their first round of recorded material between this winter and next spring.
Our Last Night’s Incredible Performance under the Pavilion
As the heat thickened and the day drew on, many fans sought out shelter from the sun beneath the pavilion to watch performances on the two main event stages: Journey’s Left Foot Stage and Journey’s Right Foot Stage. Following Hawthorne Heights’ set on the Left Foot Stage, Our Last Night entered the Right Foot Stage with full force and unrivaled enthusiasm. The foursome made their first appearance at Warped Tour in 2015, which coincided with the release of their album Younger Dreams.
Opening their set with “Broken Lives” from their newly released EP, Selective Hearing, the crowd vigorously advanced towards the stage to get closer to the performance. As the Wentworth brothers, Trevor and Matt, sang through their newest release accompanied by bandmates, Alex Woodrow (bass guitar) and Tim Molloy (drums), the crowd followed suit singing along with both chorus and verses. The band’s energy heightened as they played through new and older songs, including their rock cover of Ed Sheeran’s hit “Shape of You.” Running back and forth across the Journey’s Right Foot Stage, Our Last Night closed with “Sunrise” and welcomed fans to stop by their tent to purchase merchandise, hang out with them, and get autographs. After wrapping up the summer on Warped Tour, Our Last Night will be heading overseas to tour with their new EP.
Silverstein Release New Album, Dead Reflection
Friday, July 14th marked a very special day for one band in particular on the Warped Tour lineup this year. Silverstein, whom played the Monster Mutant South Stage, announced during their evening performance that their newest album, Dead Reflection, had been released on that very day. Despite releasing new material on the Pittsburgh Warped Tour date, Silverstein’s setlist consisted of a mixture of fan favorites such as, “Smile in your Sleep” and “Massachusetts,” as well as several tracks from Dead Reflection such as, “Ghost” and “Retrograde.”
Vocalist Shane Told explained to the crowd that this was Silverstein’s seventh time touring with Vans Warped Tour, and expressed his gratitude to their fans and the tour for having them back this year. Before closing their set with another classic, “My Heroine,” Told encouraged audience members to join them at their tent following their performance to purchase the new album and have it signed by the band. At the conclusion of Warped Tour, Silverstein will be travelling abroad to tour in Germany and the United Kingdom, while also making a few stops in their homeland, Canada.
I Prevail Close out Pittsburgh Warped Tour
Finishing the long day beneath the pavilion, I Prevail hit the stage as the final performance of the night. As festival goers slumped into pavilion seats and hardcore metal fans remained in the pit, I Prevail echoed throughout the grounds before an accidental glitch caused their sound to be cut during their opening song. The audience, however, continued to sing the chorus, which allowed the band to easily jump back into the song once their sound was restored. Despite the long day of unavoidable heat and sunshine, I Prevail energetically closed the Pittsburgh Warped Tour stop with “Scars” and announced that they would be return to Pittsburgh this Fall.
After 22 consecutive years of touring, Vans Warped Tour continues to be the largest travelling music festival in the country and gives America’s punk rockers, rebels, and music enthusiasts a summer experience unlike any other. The 2017 tour will continue throughout the remainder of the summer and will wrap up its final stop in Pomona, California on August 6th.