Earlier this year, Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman, who has also appeared in and produced multiple TV series, movies and documentaries during the course of his career, announced that Warped Tour will hit the road this summer for the last time.
Lyman has said that his decision to bring the tour to an end after more than 20 years has to do with "the physical side of things" as much as anything. It's a grueling endeavor for both the organizers and the bands.
Perhaps because it's the last tour, this year’s lineup features better bands than we’ve seen in years. Here's a look at eight acts worth catching when the tour touches down at Blossom on Wednesday, July 18.
Bowling for Soup
Who could resist the chance to hear “1985” one last time on Warped Tour? The guitar-heavy rock hit about a house wife longing for a return to the glitz and glam of the ‘80s was the unofficial soundtrack to 2004, but this Texas band has far more to offer than “1985.” “Ohio (Come Back to Texas)” chronicles an ex-lover’s move to Cleveland. Perfect guitar riffs meet quirky lyrics as lead singer Jaret Reddick begs his ex-girl to ditch the snow and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for the rodeos, the Bush twins and real Mexican food. “High School Never Ends” is another of the bands’ highlights. Mocking Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise, Mary-Kate Olson and the rest of Hollywood, the band expresses its contempt for the stereotypes and gossip of high school continuing in the real world. Bowling for Soup is band that knows its place; every hit it’s had has been, in part, a parody of itself, and the guys never take themselves too seriously. How could you dismiss a band that has so much fun making fun of themselves and everyone else?
It’s hard to briefly sum up a band like the Maine because nearly every track it has ever recorded is special in its own way. The Arizona indie rock band burst onto the scene 10 years ago and hasn’t stopped impressing. Lyrically talented, the band blends that strength with lead singer John O'Callaghan’s vocals that are far superior to the average pop-punk whine for a perfectly polished result. “Right Girl,” a gem from 2010’s Black & White
tells the tale of a rule-follower finally losing it. O’Callaghan sings of regretting a drunk hookup with someone he would have loved to get to know in a deeper way. The acoustic version of the track is quite possibly the band’s best work. “Another Night On Mars” from 2015’s American Candy
draws from the feeling of loneliness that can be temporarily resolved by friends just as queer as you and dive bars that feel like home. “Sad Songs,” a tune off 2014’s Forever Halloween
, reveals just how many life lessons can be learned from strangers’ mistakes.
This group of Tallahassee boys are at their best when they are singing tear-jerking ballads rather than electric pop-punk grievances. “Terrible Things,” a track from 2009’s Valdosta
EP, tells the story of a father falling in love with a mother who gets sick and passes away. The man warns his son to avoid falling in love because seeing his son carry the same weight of heartache that he carries would be too much. In “Miserable at Best” from 2007’s A Lesson In Romantics
, lead singer Derek Sanders struggles with some heartache of his own. The five-minute yearning session concludes with the idea that he will live without the love of his life, but he could never be happy that way.
Simple Plan is the perfect band for anyone who has ever felt alone. At first glance, the band could be written off as just another group of angsty pop punk kids, but playing the losers doesn’t feel tired when its coming from a beloved staple of the early 2000s. Simple Plan knows how to craft heart-wrenching post-grunge anthems so that’s exactly what they did with 2002’s No Pads No Helmets…Just Balls
. “I’m Just A Kid,” a tune told from the perspective of the kid who got picked last in gym class and didn’t have a prom date, is the song of youth feeling neglected everywhere. “I’d Do Anything” is the open diary of a boy-next-door wishing he was something more. The track is catchy, fierce and relatable; it sticks with you when it could have just as easily been forgettable. “Perfect” is the saddest of the band’s extremely sad catalog. It’s a coming-of-age ode to realizing that you cannot impress the unimpressible even if it’s your father and childhood hero in question.
This New York-based pop punk band has more than enough angst to go around. “Secrets” from 2015’s Around the World and Back
is a production-heavy warning to a suiter that things are not as they seem. “Eyes Closed,” another high point on Around the World and Back
has quite the opposite theme. In this upbeat track, lead singer Derek DiScanio says goodbye to a toxic individual that he forgave one too many times. The band brings a high-energy, fun vibe to everything it does. No matter how much of a downer the lyrics are, the music always comes off as empowering.
This Wild Life
This Long Beach-based duo brings a Cali vibe to the Warped Tour lineup, softening the bill. “No More Bad Days” from 2014’s Clouded
is an acoustic love song for anyone in a strained relationship that the world has beaten down. One can’t help but admire the passion that lead vocalist Kevin Jordan brings to the understated track. “History,” another tune from Clouded
, tells the tale of the gap between wanting to move on from a relationship and actually being able to do so. The duo’s brand new album, Petaluma
, carries the same vibe but also shows signs of progression and maturation. “College Kids” is a highlight, chronicling young peoples’ attempts to simultaneously cut ties and maintain a home base. “Headfirst” is another jaded love anthem, but with the band’s careful, quiet style it goes deeper than just anger or sadness and captures the mix of emotions that one must shuffle through in the wake of any storm.
The perfect nostalgia act for millennials everywhere, 30H!3 is known for its cheeky middle finger anthem “DONTTRUSTME.” The 2009 kiss-off is the perfect mix of catchy and edgy, mocking out a girl who thinks she’s the queen of the underground scene. “My First Kiss” with Ke$ha is another of the band’s highlights. The track parallels the innocence of an adolescent’s first kiss with the leap made all too soon to post-club hookups. 30H!3 is the perfect band for anyone looking to scream sing to the sound of memories. This beloved alternative band with a hip-hop and techno influence is sure to bring lots of energy to the Blossom stage.
We the Kings
Best known for “Check Yes, Juliet” from its 2007 debut album, the Florida emo band started off with major All Time Low vibes. “Check Yes, Juliet” is a star-crossed lovers spin on classic teenage rebellion. On its brand new album, Six
, the band explores an entirely different dimension of production. The new album feels more indie than emo. “On My Love,” the opening track, however, shows a flash of the band’s old style in its chorus. “Alive,” is a hip-hop meets metal track with a dark, heavy feel to it. The song seems to look both to the past and the future simultaneously and aims to give those struggling through life some faith. It's far from predictable and for that the band deserves a pat on the back. We the Kings have managed to do what most fail miserably at or never attempt; they grew as a band in every way.
Warped Tour, 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 18, Blossom, 1145 Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, 330-920-8040 Tickets: $58.50, livenation.com.