By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
How best to catch the sprawling, guitar-driven extravaganza that is the Vans Warped Tour? To put it simply: You can't see all of it. Faced with multiple stages and 50-plus bands, you've got to prioritize. To help, Miami New Times has compiled a list of our favorite can't-miss acts, from Warped classics to newcomers pushing genre boundaries. Enjoy, but remember to arrive early and check the lineup boards — Warped's famous democratic scheduling system means your favorite Fuse stars could go on as early as noon.
A Dream of Reality
This Coral Springs (holla!) quartet recently achieved many a contemporary punk band's dream when it was plucked out of near-obscurity and chosen to join Warped for nearly its entire run. Just 18 to 22 years old, the bandmates boast only one album, the recently released It's Nothing Personal, out on Miami-based Powerline Records. But despite all of that freshness, their songwriting chops are polished and spit-shined, with hooky, clean riffs that recall early My Chemical Romance (that's a huge compliment!). YouTube the video "After Dark" for a dose of the band's carefully controlled, propulsive guitar hysteria. (AC)
Orlando's Anberlin could be called the quintessential emo pop-rock band. With sounds along the lines of older acts such as Copeland and Mae, these guys deliver a blend of earnest hearts-on-their-sleeves acoustic pop and gutsy, ambitious rock. On the scene since 2001, this quintet has three albums under its belt, with a fourth, New Surrender, set for release this September. Its pure, distinctive melodies and positive, uplifting lyrics have made Anberlin a favorite on gospel stations, and gaining the group the label of a Christian rock outfit. The band claims it's not, but continues to reap the best of both worlds. Intricate musical moments driven by climaxing guitars, as well as singer Stephen Christian's unique vocal style, set this band apart from the rest of the acts on the emo market. (MC)
As I Lay Dying
For those who might have thought Christian death metal was an oxymoron — or maybe music tailored for double-morons, depending on your perspective — As I Lay Dying might confound your expectations. Death metal has actually had its share of Christian acts for quite some time, but naturally it's been a tough sell with the upside-down-cross-and-pentagram set that typically flocks to the genre. But with persistent touring and sticking to its Jesus-loving guns, AILD stands to make inroads into underground legitimacy, if not mainstream acceptance outright. And come to think of it, with its ever-recurring themes of grimness and gore, death metal actually seems perfectly suited for the harshness of the Bible, the Christ story, and end-times angst. (SRK)
Easily one of the mellowest acts on this year's bill, Bedouin Soundclash boasts a gentle wash of hook-filled dub that should sound especially soothing against the generally more aggressive sound of the other bands. But when you consider the affinity British punks had for ska, reggae, and dub early on, the band's presence makes sense — even as it provides a stark contrast to what's going on the rest of the day. Where other reggae-based bands tend to emphasize deep, body-moving grooves, Bedouin Soundclash focuses on twinkling electric guitar lines and vocal melodies that land somewhere between the catchiness of pop and the dusty immediacy of folk. (SRK)
Fans of Regina Spektor, Vanessa Carlton, or Poe will either love or hate the melodic whimsy and subtle girl-power edge of Charlotte Sometimes. Love because of Sometimes's uncanny similarities to these artists, and possible hate because of her lack of real individuality as an artist. A New Jersey native, Sometimes has always been drawn to the stage, be it theater, dance, or music. She dedicated herself to music at age 14, when she began singing and writing songs on guitar. Her 2008 debut, Waves and the Both of Us, is a collection of catchy, mainstream melodies and lyrics focused on the highs and lows of relationships. Even though her voice is sweet and bright, Sometimes comes off fiery and fun enough to earn some nods from tough girls. Hers just might be one of the most unexpected sounds on this year's Vans Warped Tour, but that also gives good reason to check out this budding songstress. (MC)
Dillinger Escape Plan
Dillinger Escape Plan is sort of like a band of Vikings, blazing through a town in a maelstrom of chaos that leaves the feeble shivering in a puddle of their own secretions. Think noise, destruction, and flames — literally. Frontman Greg Puciato has been known to shoot fireballs from the stage between bouts of expelling the demons from his head.
And, well, being in a band this perfectly brutal isn't easy. Originally from Morris Plains, New Jersey, Dillinger Escape Plan formed more than 10 years ago. The group has gone through about nine members since, not counting those in the current formation. Original vocalist Dimitri Minakakis threw in the towel thanks to sheer exhaustion after a few years; other members were forced to drop out owing to accidents and injury. Most recently, drummer Chris Pennie decamped to join the mystical proggy-core outfit Coheed and Cambria, nearly the polar aesthetic opposite of DEP.