When the Vans Warped Tour rolls into Darien Lake every year, it presents one of the best opportunities to catch the best young acts in punk, pop and hardcore.
Dozens of bands play across multiple stages in this all-encompassing experience of youth culture and fun for the young at heart. It’s been a staple for decades, and this year is shaping up to be even better, with iconic veteran bands taking the stage as well.
But with a schedule that’s planned the day of the show (literally), and a deluge of bands of all genres with names you may not have heard before, it can be overwhelming.
To help you, here is my must-see Top 10 list of bands performing at the July 14 Darien Lake stop of the Warped Tour.
10. Motionless In White
Combining the heavy riffs of traditional metalcore, the lyrics and melodies of your fondest My Chemcial Romance memories, and the aesthetic of Marilyn Manson, Motionless In White starts this list off on a heavier note. If showmanship and a booming, thick sound are your fashion, then look no further than this six-piece from Scranton, Pa. The band’s last album, “Reincarnate” showed it could break up the darkness with a bit of melodic levity – the recipe for any successful metalcore act.
9. Reel Big Fish
This way, party people. Reel Big Fish has been a ska staple for years and knows how to bring a good time. Snazzy riffs and even snazzier horns, a great stage presence and some quirkiness thrown in for good measure equals a legacy act that still hasn’t lost its touch.
8. Four Year Strong
With blast beats and beards in tow, the melodic hardcore band from Worcester, Mass., brings a lot to the table. The band combines the witty lyricism of the best pop-punk and emo groups with an attractive mix of hardcore and harmony. The band has been going for 10 years thanks to talent and the ability to let it all hang out and have a good time – which is what you should be doing when you see the band live.
This one’s a bit bittersweet. The Warped Tour veteran out of Jacksonville, Fla., is calling it quits so this could be your last chance to see Yellowcard. With classic hits like “Ocean Avenue” and “Lights and Sounds,” these guys are always crowd-pleasers, and you may get to hear some material from its final, self-titled album. So long fellas, and thanks for the memories.
6. Sum 41
Having signed with Hopeless Records and with a new record on the way, it’s safe to say Sum 41 is back from the dead. You may know these Canadian punk rockers from the raging hit “Fat Lip” or perhaps one of the many stories revolving around frontman Deryck Whibley’s personal life. Whatever the case, the band is back and ready to lay down some pop-punk old-school style and finally prove once and for all that it really wasn’t “just a phase, Mom.”
5. Real Friends
Musicians who put their heart on their sleeve as much as the members of Real Friends deserve praise. This Illinois band goes beyond pop-punk and emo with hard-hitting songs, yearning lyrics and off-the-cuff vocals that stir up plenty of feelings in listeners. If you’re looking for a band that understands what you’ve gone through, it’s Real Friends.
4. Tonight Alive
Fans of Paramore should take note of this Aussie pop-punk band. Singer Jenna McDougall’s voice range is insane. The songs – which range from melodic punk to straight-up pop – capture the fun and powerful essence that female-fronted pop-punk groups are so good at creating. Every musician in this band is crazy talented and versatile.
3. New Found Glory
When one of the godfathers of pop-punk stop by, you have to check it out. New Found Glory helped create the sound that would define a generation, and the band still has it in spades. Expect a show with an energy like no other and melodies that will get stuck in your head for weeks. This is a band that needs to be experienced live at least once. Here is your chance.
2. State Champs
This Albany pop-punk group is the best of its new class of peers. Its last two records, “The Finer Things” and “Around the World and Back,” are incredible studies in melody and passion. If this talented band was a bit more in the limelight, it would have the same level of fame as bands like 5 Seconds of Summer. Singer Derek Discanio will blow you away in seconds, and the lyrics are great, too. If there’s any young act I can recommend you see, it’s this one.
1. Every Time I Die
I know what you’re thinking: “He just put that there because they’re from Buffalo.” And you would be half right. But the band wouldn’t top this list unless it deserved it. The hardcore titan has such a gravitas and draws such a passionate crowd that the earth seems to shake when it plays. Frontman Keith Buckley crafts his lyrics like a prize-winning poet laureate having a breakdown, and the result is some of the most intelligent hardcore out there. The music is heavy, but there’s a good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll show to be found. And the energy? If you’ve never been to an Every Time I Die show in Buffalo before, then you’re in for the ride of your life. Buckle up.