by Jeff Niesel
By Jeff NieselView Slideshow
In the past few years, Warped Tour has favored harder and heavier bands. As a result, more aggressive fans have shown up to attend the annual punk rock festival. But this year, the tour didn't have as many heavy hitters on the bill. That made for a concert experience that was a bit easier on the ears and ultimately more enjoyable than year's past. Sure, there were still plenty of metalcore and hardcore bands that played. Black Veil Brides, for example, delivered a hard-hitting set on one of the auxiliary stages set up in the parking lot behind Blossom's box office. The band's singer profusely thanked Cleveland and the local club Peabody's for supporting the group from day one. And there always seemed to be a mosh pit going strong at the Ernie Ball Stage, a small side stage that catered to the most aggressive of the hardcore and punk acts. But that wasn't necessarily the norm. Led by preppy singer Brian Dales, the Summer Set played pop-punk tunes that were so catchy and melodic, they could pass for boy band material. New Beat Fund sounded like a cool cross between Beck and Weezer and its exuberant singer didn't seem to mind that only a handful of fans showed up to hear his band play. There was even a straight-up jam band on the bill — Lionz of Zion. And Never Shout Never played a stripped down show in front of a massive crowd that soaked up the introspective ballads offered by front man Christofer Drew Ingle. This was a crowd that was more attentive and courteous than previous crowds. Even the personnel at Blossom could be heard talking about the fans' pleasant demeanor. A nice change of pace from the last few years.