RECAP: 2016 Vans Warped Tour

Tuesday afternoon brought the Warped Tour to Milwaukee. The traveling festival, now in it’s 21st year, is an annual gathering of all things punk, screamo, and whatever the hell the kids are into these days. This year’s lineup featured a lot of the bands that helped propel the tour to new heights, including Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Yellowcard, New Found Glory, and Sum 41, amongst others. Over ten hours of music is a lot to take in, but we’ll attempt to recap our day here.


Best Set (That I Saw): This is a very tough one this year. There were a lot of great half hour slots, but New Found Glory, Less Than Jake, and Sum 41 all worked to win over the crowd. New Found Glory was full of energy, switching sides of the stage so fast it was hard to keep track of anyone. Less Than Jake brought smoke, presidential attire, toilet paper, and who knows what else to the Marcus Ampitheater, declaring “we may not be the best band on this tour, but we sure as hell are the most entertaining.” The return of the Sum 41 lineup of Deryck Whibley, Cone, and Dave Brownsound, however, blew the roof off of the place. All three bands were great in their own right.

Best Cameo: The combination of New Found Glory and Yellowcard.

Cyrus Bolooki from New Found Glory is filling in for Yellowcard on drums this tour (one of their last tours, as previously announced), and Yellowcard vocalist Ryan Key came out to assist with vocals on New Found Glory’s recent single “Ready And Willing”. The two bands work well together, in sound, style, and energy.

IMG_0321Best Cover: Reel Big Fish weren’t shy about their age, declaring to a crowd member that “in the 90’s you would’ve wanted to bang all of us”, and announced that it was time to play “their big hit from the 90’s”. However, they proceeded to briefly cover Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” which they said was a Pearl Jam song, and then Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy”, which they attributed to Blink 182. Their live album is called “More Schtick Than You Can Shake A Stick At” for a reason.

IMG_0231Most Underrated Set: Madison’s Masked Intruder were absolutely wonderful. The band is playing the entire tour in support of their most recent release “Love And Other Crimes”, and this show was definitely a homecoming for them. Frontman Blue Intruder had a great wiseguy gimmick that he used when interacting with the crowd, and the band brought along a “police officer” to dance with the crowd, and later reveal much more than he needed to after ripping off his uniform towards the end of their time.

Best Dressed: I saw a guy wearing an inflatable innertube to go crowd surfing. And he surfed many times during various shows. Honorable mention goes to Buddy from Less Than Jake for sweating it out in a polyester red, white, and blue suit for their set.

Discovery of the Day: Assuming We Survive

Every year, it seems like there’s one band I stumble upon that just has “it”. With one of the earliest slots in the day, Assuming We Survive claimed that title early this year. Their set was much more than crunching pop punk, however; they did everything a band at their stage of their career should do to win an audience over. Band members came out to play in the crowd,  take selfies, and the band kept inviting fans to come join their “little family”. There was also a jumping jack pit, which while small, makes the band’s set memorable. Hopefully it helps propel them to a more prominent set time in the future.

Overall, this was one of the more entertaining Warped Tours in comparison to recent years. The lineup is a big component of that, obviously. While some of the bands on tour are getting a little older, they haven’t lost their step, and they haven’t lost the plot, either. Everyone gets a half hour to make a big impression, and the veteran bands know that. There were plenty of bands for whatever genre you’re into, and unlike many other tours, this year there were bands for younger and older fans. It’s always a unique experience coming to the Warped Tour, and this year was no different.

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