Warped Tour in Toronto, July 4, 2014

Vans Warped Tour at Molson Amphitheatre Flats
July 4th, 2014

Photos by Sarah Riley

The last (and first?) time I attended Warped Tour was somewhere around 1999 (or so a web search suggests), when bands like Suicidal Tendencies – already well past their prime were on the headlining stage. This year I only recognized a handful or two of the names on the bill and I’d heard even less, but my teenage niece really wanted to go. And how could I not encourage a young whippersnapper’s appreciation of loud, heavy-ish music?

I was struck by how much this is a young person’s event, right down to the offer of a free tickets for a fest-goers legal guardian and the option of dropping off your more aged companions at “reverse daycare.” Apparently I’m not over the hill enough for that yet, so I followed my niece, Sarah, around throughout the day and evening, letting her take the lead.

Aside from some trouble and confusion getting a hold of the day’s schedule so we could figure out where we wanted to be when, Vans Warped Tour seems like a seriously well run event. Bottled water was cheaper than you’d usually find at Amphitheatre events and there were water stations where you could refill your own bottle for free. There was also a wide selection of relatively reasonably-priced food, including some delicious vegan dining courtesy of my favourite food truck, Karma Chameleon.

Sarah and I did a fair bit of musical sampling to start out the day, and periodically scoped out the merch areas as bands arrived and set up their stuff. The first set we devoted any serious time to was by a band from NY State called We Are the In Crowd. The net describes them as pop punk (pretty much the dominant sound of the day). They were catchy, lots of good energy, and played the song Sarah was looking to hear.

The first band Sarah was really pumped to see – and quite possibly the band with the best (custom-designed) merch – was Icon for Hire from Illinois. In terms of performance spectacle this quartet earned themselves several gold stars, beginning with the frontwoman leading the audience in pre-set vocal exercises and culminating in the drummer sharing his bass drum with the crowd. There was also confetti and water guns!

While waiting for the main feature of the day (Sarah’s main feature anyway) we caught the strangeness of a band called I Fight Dragons. And afterward we stuck around for more music sampling and, eventually, the performance Chelsea Grin and their fans (narrowly avoiding getting trampled by a ‘circle of death’). But was mostly the rest of the day was about Courage My Love.

Laura is associate editor of Hellbound.ca and co-host of weekly metal show Kill Eat Exploit the Weak on CFMU 93.3 FM. She loves doom, prog, cats and basketball, believes in equity and social justice and is not cool with any form of discrimination, marginalization, harassment or oppression.