The Vans Warped Tour, that all-day extravaganza of punkish rock bands, extreme sports, and alternative youth lifestyle branding, turns lucky 13 this summer. In celebration, the sprawling, multistage, all-day affair has grown even larger. The band lineup alone features something like 55-plus names. And then there are all the vendor tents and attractions.
Let's face it: Even if you're 16 years old and bursting with energy, and arrive promptly at the 11:00 a.m. opening, it is pretty much impossible to see every band. You need a plan of attack. Here are some suggestions for breaking down the day's musical lineup by a series of themes; the lists are alphabetized, so grab a band schedule at the venue. And if you somehow get bored, check out the Lucha Libre tent (complete with live Mexican wrestling) or the Guitar Hero II tent or the Vans Skate Ramp or....
The Sunshine State represents, from the superlocal to pop radio superstars, spread across an array of stages.
Anberlin: Orlando-based post-emo with a modern-rock radio sheen
Don't Die Cindy: Panama City fast rockers touch on prog
Lower Class Trash: West Palm Beach punk
Mayday Parade: Melodic rock from Tallahassee
New Found Glory: Coral Springs's greatest claim to fame, bona fide pop-punk stars
Red Jumpsuit Apparatus: Heard of Middleburg, Florida? No? But you've probably heard of this impassioned five-piece that headlined this year's Take Action! Tour
Girls Rock Too
Almost 60 bands, and only three on the Miami bill are female-fronted? Weak, but at least we got something.
Meg and Dia: Cute sisters who sing like angels and wail like banshees
Paramore: Expansive but punchy, precocious pop-rock
Vincent Black Shadow: Vancouver genre-benders with a little cabaret style
These acts defy easy grouping with other acts on the tour. And that's truly punk.
Iain Terry and His Band: Elusive rockabilly/surf guitar god of the Sixties emerges. Who'da thunk?
K-Os: Former preacher's kid turned funky, smart hip-hop MC
Nothington: Whiskey-flavor punk with a debt to Tom Waits
Revolution Mother: Pro skater Mike Vallely turns out gnarly, unforgiving punk
Street Drum Corps: Hands-down winner of the category. Percussion-only band that favors makeshift instruments and Blade Runner style. Must be seen to be believed.
This year every foreign band hails from the United Kingdom or a former British colony.
The Automatic Automatic: Welsh rockers freak out with a dab of electro
Funeral for a Friend: More from Wales! Impressively textured posthardcore, metal, and screamo
Gallows: True Pistols- and Clash-style punk from Watford, England
Iain Terry: See Grab Bag
Parkway Drive: Straight-up hardcore from the only Aussies on the tour
On Death and Dying
In these times, it's even popular subject matter for band and album names.
Bleed the Dream: Fourth Warped Tour for dark L.A. quartet with serious riffs
The Dear and Departed: Orange County band that draws on classic postpunk (like the Church) as much as up-tempo rock
Escape the Fate: Las Vegas quintet that named its last album Dying Is the Latest Fashion
Funeral for a Friend: See Foreign
It Dies Today: Almost-metal hardcore from Buffalo, New York
Scream to a Whisper
These bands specialize in sounding sincerely sweet one second and lung-puncturing screamy the next.
Alesana: Issuers of shrieks that sound too painful for such young, cute bandmates
Chiodos: Taste of Chaos tour stars
Scary Kids Scaring Kids: Minor-key tales spiked with spooky synth
The Spill Canvas: Solo acoustic act turned full emo-tinged quartet
Skas Not Dead?
A genre that was a Warped staple in the Nineties returns, sort of.
Big D and the Kids Table: Boston-area ska-punkers at it for more than a decade
Fabulous Rudies: Extrapolate the sound from the name
Pepper: More reggae-tinged rock than ska, it's exactly what you would expect from chilled-out Hawaii
Suggestions for the aging Warped rockers — you know, people in their twenties, who like a little melody now and then.
My American Heart: Sweetly melodic San Diego quintet
Circa Survive: Proggy excursions from former frontman of Saosin
Evaline: Mature, dramatic rock from fellows who look especially good in scarves
The Graduate: Cool simply for being from Springfield (Illinois)
The Matches: Oakland foursome that's somehow both boisterous and subdued
Straylight Run: Two former members of Taking Back Sunday grow up and add female vocals and keys to the mix. Simply lovely
Purveyors of those fast, catchy songs you just can't bring yourself to forget
Amber Pacific: Tight, punk-inflected pop-rock from Seattle
All Time Low: High-energy kids from Baltimore suburbs who don't take themselves too seriously
Cute Is What We Aim For: And they pretty much accomplish it
Hawthorne Heights: Ohio quintet that actually beat Ne-Yo for a number one slot on the Billboard charts
The Starting Line: Equally slick and successful label mates of Something Corporate and Midtown
Christian bands are firmly part of the postpunk, posthardcore world. Their presence on this huge, largely secular tour cements this fact.
Anberlin: See Florida Bands
blessthefall: Irritating use of punctuation, creative blend of a dab of hip-hop and metal with easy emo-rock
Haste the Day: Indianapolis metalcore with a surprisingly dark aesthetic
Norma Jean: Punishing, brutal posthardcore with a welcoming, subtly faithful vibe
Watch Your Eardrums
The main core of this year's lineup: shredding guitars and vocal-cord-busting guttural yells. The following are just the loudest ones. You've been warned.
Haste the Day
The Human Abstract
Throw the Fight
Monsters of Rock
The common thread here: impressive crossover success
Coheed and Cambria: Pretty much invented the branch of posthardcore that delves far into prog-rock turf
Killswitch Engage: Unforgivingly hard metal backbone with a surprising melodic overlay
New Found Glory: See Florida Bands
Hawthorne Heights: See Pop Rocks
Miss these stalwarts, and immediately forfeit all punk points. Do not pass go.
Bad Religion: Immortal Southern California punk from the early Eighties, still going strong
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Pennywise: California skate punks with pretty much godlike status
Throwdown: Uncompromising straightedge hardcore, a decade strong
Tiger Army: Bay Area punk with a healthy dose of psychobilly
The Unseen: Spiky Boston punkers who began playing before some of this year's concert attendees were born