Zoiks! At Vans Warped Tour – Tinley Park July 9th 2011

“Zoiks! Online” has covered several festivals, including Rock Star Energy Drinks Mayhem and Uproar Festivals, The Carnival of Madness among many more. Saturday July 9th was our introduction to Vans Warped Tour. Neither Jason Tanamor our editor or myself had been to the Warped Tour as fans before, so Saturday was a neat little experience for us. There were several bands we wanted to see/talk to, but the nature of the festival made it impossible to both get every interview you wanted and see every show you wanted.

For those of you who have never been to a Warped Tour, here is how Matt Thiessen of Relient K explained it to us, “you find out at 9:30 in the morning, I just get a text in my bunk every day, ‘wake up, you’re first and it’s central time by the way, so you lost an hour.’" There isn’t a headliner; I don’t care if you’re as popular as The Devils Wears Prada, Simple Plan or Relient K. You could play the opening slot as Relient K did on Saturday. According to Big Chocolate, “the ideal time slots are one to four.” So while this set up may be difficult for the media to cover, it’s a pretty cool set up for the bands (especially the smaller acts) and the fans. As Simple Plan’s Pierre Bouvier put it, “I think if you come to Warped Tour you can almost expect to meet the bands you want to meet.”

We asked every band that we talked to, about changing time slots, what they like about it, which slots are the best, how do they prepare etc:

Relient K: “we actually wrote a song about it in case we ever have to play first and there is nobody at our stage this year. Montreal, Canada, 2008 there’s nobody there so I just wrote a song to play for nobody.”

The Devil Wears Prada: “Just wake up early. Our tour manager just tells us every morning at 9 am, so you just kind of wake up, look at your phone and sort of mentally prepare for how you’re day is going to be from there.”

Simple Plan: “You prepare for like dirty hot, lots of sunscreen…we brought dirt bikes this time around. Its kind of fun…like you’re going to summer camp. You’ve got to dress lightly. Everyone here is wearing tank tops and shorts and it’s very laid back. Yeah prepare to get dirty, hot and sweaty.”

New Years Day: “Wake up really early. Basically we wake up at 7 in the morning. With us we’re doing band and trailer, just to save some money. We are almost getting to the venue when it’s time to wake up, so whose ever driving is getting like two hours of sleep at the most sometimes, so it’s pretty wild.”

Big Chocolate: “Every day you play at random times. You’d think playing last would be the best, but it’s actually not. Playing second to last is good, playing first…I’ve never played first before, but I’d imagine it’s kind of tricky because it’s the first show of the day. Anything from like 1 to 4 is golden, you’re not exhausted by the end of the day. Most people break down their merch tents around 6, but if you play at 8, you can’t do that until afterwards and it makes it a little longer of a day.”

In terms of performances we were only able to catch about four bands live. Which seems crazy, but between doing interviews, walking to the stages, keeping us hydrated, it’s a rough, but fun day. The first band we caught was New Years Day. They were a fun energetic band playing at one of the smaller stages, but they have a catchy sound that I think would hold up well on one of the more crowded stages. They put on a great show, specifically front woman Ashley Costello and guitarist Matt Lindblad. At one point during the show Matt jumped into the crowd and joined the mini mosh pit that was taking place in in a giant puddle of water.

We stuck around for The Dance Party after New Years Day’s set. The Dance Party is a band that “Zoiks!” had interviewed before. They have a very fun sound; a Michael Jackson meets Def Leppard kind of thing going on. I was really curious about checking them out after interviewing them probably half a year ago. They started off with maybe five people in their crowd, but as they played, people walking by would stop and check them out. By the time their set was over they had a full on crowd in front of them. The Dance Party was a lot of fun.

A Simple Plan had the biggest audience of the day (that we witnessed), they also have some of the bigger hits on the tour as well. They took to, what would be the main stage at most other festivals, at about 5:45 and had the crowd in the palm of their hands. After Simple Plans set a lot of the fans started heading home.

There were still plenty of people around to catch The Devil Wears Prada and A Day to Remember. We walked over to their stage and caught the tail end of this band called Pepper that was really cool. If I had it to do over again I ‘d have caught their entire set. The Devil Wears Prada was our last show of the day. We’d worked with those guys before and wanted to catch their set. There is nothing like standing in the photo pit waiting for a Christian band to come out on stage while the crowd is chanting “Devil, Devil, Devil.” I’ve been in the photo pit for some heavy bands before, but this was insane. People were crowd surfing at capacity. We were only in the photo pit for three songs and these security guards were working their asses off trying to keep these kids safe, it was insane. One time I turned around to see a shoe on it’s way down at my head, luckily for me one of the security guards caught it (thank you good sir, whoever you are). Beer, water, you name it was hitting me along with my $800 camera…but I can't complain, because the experience was awesome.

A Devil Wears Prada is one of the best metal core bands out there. For some people it’s tough get into because there is a lot of screaming, but regardless, these guys bring it. They are amazing live performers, I’m happy that I was able to catch as many pictures in focus, because these guys move.

All in all The Warped Tour was a great experience. I wish I could do it over again and bring like 3 extra people to help me cover the event, but we had a great time. To all the bands that we missed, please feel free to reach out to us for phoners or email interviews. We had so many things on our agenda that we wanted to accomplish and next thing we knew it was pushing 3 o clock and we hadn’t seen one band, were starving, dehydrated, smelled horrible and had to use the rest room all at the same time…but it was a blast.


Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.

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