DARIEN – The rain came and went just like the more than 100 bands featured Tuesday at this year’s Warped Tour. This didn’t stop some young fans from running around in the mud surrounding the 10 stages during multiple downpours to catch their favorite bands.
Nothing was going to stop Autumn Meranto, 18, of North Tonawanda, from seeing one of her favorite bands, Real Friends.
“It was pouring,” Meranto said, while her friends nodded along. All were soaked and headed for shelter.
Others were enjoying the experience regardless.
“It’s just rain,” said Olivia Jworek, 17, of Dunkirk. She and a friend were killing time between sets out in the open, and at least a dozen people took advantage of the various sloped surfaces that turned into impromptu, muddy Slip ’N Slides.
Warped Tour – a national music festival sponsored by Vans – made its way back to Darien Lake this year. The 20th annual festival stayed true to its roots and featured mostly up-and-coming acts of the punk-rock genre and its offshoots.
For those less willing to brave the elements, the main stage and surrounding area were fully covered by a large white tent, and sets shifted easily as one band would use half of the stage to perform while another would be setting up on the other side.
It was there that the lead singer of “screamo” band For Today told his young audience about his father’s tragic death and his mother slipping into a deep depression when he was 8. He then proclaimed that he found peace in Jesus Christ and continued to his next loud and angry number.
At the other end of the grounds, concertgoers enjoyed spending time in tents dedicated to social justice and softer sounds in the Acoustic Basement, where artists like Mike Herrera and Anthony Raneri played.
A far cry from festivals like Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, barely anyone was carrying alcohol, a symptom of the low average age and the fact that a large premium beer cost $13.
Stephen Mclaurin, 22, of Varysburg, said he doesn’t like to drink at these kinds of events because there is too much going on and he doesn’t want to get sick. He was in line for a $7.50 cheeseburger, though.
“Of course it’s expensive for a cheeseburger, but you can’t bring much in, and I can’t go back to my car, so it’s not like I have much choice,” he said.
Other attendees were more willing to spend money and shopped at the various merchandise tents that travel around the country with the festival.
Some picked up new Vans sneakers, others bought bright, geometric necklaces from smaller vendors like Portland’s Then Now Always.
The biggest names of the tour – Yellowcard, Bowling for Soup and Less Than Jake – were scheduled for later in the evening on the large stage, making them more like actual headliners.
The day’s schedule is created after all the bands’ names are drawn from a lottery. This means that any band can go on at any time, giving the festival a democratic feeling over others that save the “best” for last.
This time, though, people had to stay until the end if they wanted to catch these sets. Fortunately for them, the stormy weather did let up around 5 p.m., when the sun officially broke through to create a perfect summer evening.