Warped Tour 2018

(Originally Published on South Florida Insider)

An All-Start Cast of Alumni Help Celebrate the Fabled Festival’s Farewell Celebration – Review of the 2018 Warped Tour Festival at Coral Sky Amphitheater in West Palm Beach

Photos and Story by: Gleb Barabanov

When I first heard the news that Warped Tour, the annual travelling gathering of some of the biggest punk rock and metal names out there, was hosting its last year of festivities, I knew I just had to be there for one last hurrah. I’ve been going to the tour on-and-off since their 2005 edition, and every time I’ve attended in the past it had been an absolute blast. This year was no different! Thousands of people battled the heat and came out to experience the last ever Warped tour, and with our city being the last stop of the last year, it was definitely a day to remember!

Taking over the entirety of the Coral Sky Amphitheater, Warped is one of the biggest events that have ever happened at this venue. Seven full-sized stages, along with small “mini-stages” where artists played impromptu acoustic sets, ensured you were never waiting for a band to start playing. Dozens and dozens of tents were propped up all over the parking lot area in a small bazaar style set-up, selling everything from standard fest merch like Hats and Backpacks to more interesting items like vinyl and guitar strings. And each band had a full-sized merch booth set up, eliminating the problem that most festivals run into (only one shirt by the band you came here to see).

And speaking of bands you came here to see, boy was the lineup absolutely stacked! Pretty much every band that was playing was Warped tour alumni, coming back to celebrate to the same place many of them got their start. The lineup was extremely varied, as always, drawing in many different crowds into a melting pot of celebration. From metal legends such as Unearth, August Burns Red and Chelsea Grin, to older pop-punk and ska groups like Reel Big FishNew Found Glory and Less Than Jake, most everyone had at least one must-see group that reminded them of their younger days. And even the younger crowd came out for bands like 3OH!3Tonight AliveIce Nine KillsTropidelicDoll SkinSimple Plan, and even Twizted came out to perform an absolute banger of a set.

I spent most of my time by the Monster Energy Heavy Metal stages, watching some of the most amazing sets I’ve seen in a long time. Both the Main stages and the Monster stages were set up right next to each other, and as one band finished up their time the next one began to play, ensuring no dead spots in the schedule. The strict 30-minute limit that each band had to abide by meant that there was no time for theatrics, no time for long speeches directed at the crowd, just a 30 minute tornado of energy every time a band began to play their set. August Burns Red delivered a killer set, playing classics like ComposureBack Burner, and Empire while driving the crowd into an absolute frenzy. Chelsea Grin debuted some brand new songs from their new record Eternal Nightmare featuring their brand new singer Tom Barber.

And Senses Fail showed off their prowess, also debuting a brand new song from their latest If There Is Light, It Will Find You, as well as playing a riveting medley of covers including Chop SueyBulls on Parade and Break Stuff.

The standouts, however, were the last bands to take the stage. Ocala, Florida locals Wage War brought crushing grooves to the eager crowds. I had not heard of them before seeing them at this show, but within two songs I was quickly a convert! Combining Hatebreed-style hardcore rhythms with crunchy guitar licks, this band is primed to blow up and Warped was a perfect opportunely for them to get new fans (they defiantly got at least one!). Every Time I Die began to play as Wage War finished up their set, the last band to take over the metal stage of the festival. Their wild, frenetic style quickly took hold as Jordan and Keith Buckley blasted off into the first song. Maintaining a wild energy throughout the entire set (with the crowd giving it right back in return), they delivered a knockout punch to the sun-beaten crowds. Keith went into the crowd during one of the songs, and towards the end of the set guitarist Andy Williams stripped off his clothes and threw them into the crowd. Jordan kept playing way after they were supposed to get off stage, crowd surfing while playing as the crew broke down the band’s set around him.

The last band to play that night (and the last band to play the Warped tour in its current iteration) were punk rock legends Pennywise. Kicking off the setlist Wouldn’t It Be Nice and Perfect People, the band launched into a killer set of old school classics, and they were just as tight and focused as they were when I first saw them at Warped 07. Vocalist Jim Lindberg addressed the crowd numerous times in between songs, thanking them for coming out and enjoying the very last Warped tour. Right before they came out and did one of their most well-known songs, F*** Authority, Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman came out on stage to deliver a small speech and thank the crowd for supporting Warped for over 20 years. Pennywise finished their time on stage, and Warped Tour’s time as a touring festival, with their most famous song, Bro Hymn and the crowd keeping the chant long after the music stopped.

They say “Don’t cry because its over, smile because it happened”, but I cant help but fell like my summers will be a little more boring without Warped Tour to look forward to every year. And after the massive success of this year’s edition, I’m stoked to see what Kevin and the gang have cooking up next. Maybe a 25th anniversary destination festival? Or a “Ship-Hop” style cruise with a Warped Tour lineup? The possibilities are endless, and I can say I look forward to whatever they dream up next.