The Houston date of the Vans Warped Tour consisted of three fundamental things: heat, good music and a good time. Music filled the gaps between the hundreds of tents that covered the yellow lot at NRG Park. Concertgoers were strewn about, trying to find shade in the 90+ degree heat between sets. Free CD’s, bandannas, shirts, food and backpacks were handed to the festival attendees left and right as they tried to find the seven different stages placed across the parking lot.
Coverage by: Sarah Hoffman, Sara Harmouch & Norma Becerra
The day began just before noon when We The Kings took one of the main stages. The band are no strangers to the Warped scene, and they faced a crowd of eager fans both old and new to kick off the the day with an energetic feel. Their new electronic-pop sound was the perfect way for the thousands of attendees to kick off a long day of music.
Across the lot, recently-signed Houston natives Waterparks took the Cyclops stage to an ever-growing crowd of supporters. The band are no strangers to the Warped Tour scene after they won Battle of the Bands in the past for the opportunity to play the Houston stop, but this time around the guys are embarking on the entire tour for the first time. Their faithful Houston fan base certainly showed up to send them off. Lead singer Awsten Knight casually had conversations with several fans in between songs, and the three-piece looked like they were having the time of their lives.
One of the highlights of the day was Yellowcard, who recently announced their breakup after 16 years of making music together. Fans soaked in every note knowing that this would be one of the last chances they have to see Yellowcard play live. They capped off the short set with three songs from their popular 2003 record before closing with Ocean Avenue, of course. The crowd sang at the top of their lungs and crowdsurfed to the barricade despite the fact that it was so early in the day.
Virginia natives Broadside played a set full of infectious energy that had people walking by stop mid-step to check out these Warped first timers. The band closed out their set with front man Oliver Baxxter on the barricade singing their track “Coffee Talk” with the crowd.
Everytime I die earned a lot of excited screams after their crowd surf. Their hardcore punk/Metalcore music caught many people’s attention, even those who are not into that kind of music.
Next, Chelsea Grin performed their set on the Monster Energy South stage. Everyone was jumping and screaming the lyrics at the top of their lungs, even in the dreadful Houston heat.
Ice Nine Kills took the Monsters Energy North stage. Lead singer, Spencer Charnas, seemed to be having the time of his life on stage. He went out into the crowd a couple times, each time getting fans to join him and crowd surf. Flags were being waved by fans, and the whole atmosphere was one not to miss.
The show must go on. Set It Off lead singer Cody Carson stuck by those words even after he rolled his ankle while jumping into the photo pit to sing directly to the fans at the barricade at the beginning of their set. He kicked off his shoe and limped back and forth across the stage without a pause. He even jumped back into the pit to sing with the fans, hold a few hands and bump a few fists. The clear fan-favorite of their set was “Why Worry,” which had everyone throwing their “jazz hands” in the air during the chorus. Their set included two new songs, “Something New” and “Uncontainable,” as well as other favorites from their latest album, Duality.
The Maine brought originality to the Journey’s Right Foot Stage that Sunday evening. The band showed up with matching outfits and a baby blue backdrop that said “you are watching a band called The Maine” that fit into the American Candy aesthetic. Their set was filled with old and new favorites as well as some re-imagined tunes. “Growing Up” was a surprising addition to the set, but the band twisted it into a heavy rock anthem. Lead singer John O’Callaghan danced across the stage during “Diet Soda Society” and “Am I Pretty” from their latest album, American Candy. And as per usual, the band called up one lucky fan to sing the chorus of “Girls Do What They Want.” The crowd went wild for the fan, “Caleb from San Antonio,” who seemed to push away any nerves aside and belted out the lyrics. Their set was definitely one of the most memorable of the day.
Then came American Authors, who, at first glance, seemed to stand out among the regular Warped bands. Their mainstream pop-rock music is a stretch from the punk sounds of Sum 41 or the metalcore of Every Time I Die, but the band looked at home on stage. A massive crowd flocked to the stage and several others sat on the ground within the vicinity to catch their set. During their third song, lead singer Zac Barnett hopped into the photo pit to get up close and personal with the fans, much to their delight. He paced back and forth in the barricade, fistbumping and holding hands with fans while delivering every word of the song. They closed their set with “Best Day of My Life,” which got every fan on their feet to sing along to the popular radio hit.
As the day went on, the crowd at the Journey’s stage began to grow in anticipation of Sum 41’s return to the Warped Tour stage. By the time the band went on, there was a never ending sea of people in the crowd, sitting out back and everywhere in between. People in the front row had survived a full day outside in the Houston heat in anticipation of Sum 41 and their first appearance at the tour this year. During the first song, singer Deryck Whibley picked out a handful of enthusiastic fans to join them on stage, and soon after crowd surfers began to take advantage of the plenty security guards on hand. Even HPD officers were on location to make sure everyone was safe to what was expected to be a rowdy crowd of fans. They performed the obvious favorites like “In Too Deep” and “Fat Lip” to the crowd of fans and fellow bands alike.
Coog Radio closed out the 2016 Vans Warped Tour with Issues on the Journey’s Right Foot stage. As the sun began to set, Issues appeared accompanied by their Pokemon themed stage setup and performed the Pokemon theme song to start off their set with a nostalgic and fun twist. Mosh pits and crowd surfers quickly took place during their set, disregarding the Warped Tour rule set up a couple of years ago that forbids any of these acts that could lead to people getting hurt. The band performed songs old and new including “Mad At Myself” off their first release.
By Norma Becerra