Torrential downpours stop Vans Warped Tour? Not a chance in rock 'n' roll.
The producers of this annual traveling festival pivoted the footprint of the show taking place at Darien Lake on Thursday morning, avoiding grass and mud pits (except some sodden parking areas on grass).
Six of the eight stages, band and organization tents, as well as concert concessions, were set up on asphalt. Plus, there was the usual performing arts center concourse and a portion of the parking lots.
Twin main stages (like last year) were side-by-side under the amphitheater. What is usually the park's V.I.P. parking area was overtaken by stages and portable fencing. Zip ties contained the event. There was zero access to the lawn seating area and the mini valley behind that area as there has been previously.
After the morning's downpour, the weather improved. Besides some ominous clouds and occasional sprinkles, the day was steamy and bright, jam-packed with 76 bands hitting their assigned stages.
One oversized communal schedule board and $2 printed schedules/maps (a top-seller according to Kat Cody, a social media and marketing assistant with Warped Tour, besides rain-proof plastic knapsacks) helped attendees navigate the warren of tents and stages. In the thick of tents the sight of the top of the amphitheater or the twin silos on nearby farmland helped orient.
Lucky 33 from the Syracuse area played punk originals on Korner Stage, the smallest and most accessible, announcing free stickers and hugs from bandmate Dustin immediately following their set. Before leaving, the musicians informed the passel before them that the next band, Sexy Teenagers, would "come up and ruin your day."
One of Warped Tour's finest features was illustrated under the amphitheater, the sense of overtaking a space for the day and amity among fans: Some security roamed about, but they were not a hulking presence.
Fans took the opportunity to enjoy the padded seats of the V.I.P. boxes, each emblazoned with the LiveNation logo. The usually guarded V.I.P. porches and area near the stage were open to all.
Led by singer/sprite Laila K., ska-infused Sonic Boom Six of Manchester, England, performed before an amphitheater crowd of about 1,000 packed together in the the usual 100 and 200-level seating areas. "I don't need you to mosh, I need you to smile, show me your teeth!" she said.
After the set some drifted to the other side of the stage to watch I Prevail while some headed to other stages and the meet-and-greet with Sonic Boom Six.
Outside the first aid station – a good barometer of an event's vibe – were two buddies from Lake View, Connor Kraft and Jack Sargent. Were they injured? "No, I just wanted to have my foot checked," said Kraft, "I thought I might've lost my toenail, I got stomped in a mosh pit."
Sargent's shirt was missing. Was it lost in the same mosh pit? "I don't know where it is," Sargent said.
"Megan has it," said Kraft and they had no idea where she was. It was then that a white plastic face mask was noted in Sargent's hand. Why was he carrying a mask? "This is so that people can't see me crying in the pit."
No great shock that a hardcore band named Knocked Loose, playing the Full Sail Stage, inspired some of the day's most spirited moshing. One fan sported a bleeding nose.
Concurrently, War On Women, a three-fifths lady band featuring singer Shawna Potter, pitched the message of the organization Safer Scenes, a pet project of the band: "Everyone has the power to interrupt violence. We need you! We need you!"
Back under the amphitheater roof, metalcore Attila frontman Chris “Fronz” Fronzak said, "We can't do a signing today because of the schedule but we have a (expletive) of signed posters at our tent. There was a (expletive) flood but we're still out here doing this! Now I wanna see you on your worst behavior."
Immediately following, The Ataris covered (and punked-up) Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" and offered relationship advice before their original "In This Diary" to dump anyone "who treats you terribly."
Vans Warped Tour
Thursday at Darien Lake