Two Days of VAN'S Warped Tour; Pomona and Ventura, CA
Since I had never been to a Van’s Warped Tour, and neither had Zoe, we decided to go twice; once with friends, and once just the two of us, and this turned out to be a good decision because even though Zoe and I have relatively similar music tastes, our favorite stuff is different.
My thoughts on Van’s: Pomona is hot! Ventura is not! But overall the musical experience was awesome, and I was able to find a fantastic mix of music that satisfied both Zoe and my tastes. What follows is a quick synopsis of bands you probably don’t know that are really worth checking out.
CHASE WALKER BAND
Zoe knows Chase Walker, and she had told me he was an amazing guitarist. My favorite thing in the world to listen to is blues guitar. Once I was asked, “If you were stranded on a deserted island and had the complete collection of only one artist to listen to forever, who would it be?” Easy answer….Stevie Ray Vaughan. Unfortunately, I was too much of a metal snob to see him live at the Catalyst when I had the chance, but I have grown an appreciation of blues guitar as I get older, and there is a definite pathway of generations…Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and now Chase Walker. Yes, he really is that good. He belongs in a sentence with those two, and lovers of this genre will hear his name for a long time. He is incredibly young, but I got to see KWS when he was about 16 or 17 on his first tour with his band, and it was a real treat. I cannot wait to go see CWB again.
CHUNK! NO, CAPTAIN CHUNK!
It is well known at my house that screaming needs to be either something teenagers do to their parents, or an accent on the actual music for me to appreciate it. That is why Chelsea Grin and Attila are bands that I simply have to skip while Zoe hits the pit. But this French band is simply awesome. The stage presence of singer Bertrand Poncet and the energy and enthusiasm of the entire band is contagious. The song ‘Haters Gonna Hate” is probably the most fun song of this entire genre. Wikipedia claims they are “Pop-Punk” but Chunk! has metalcore undertones, pop melodies, hysterical lyrics and fun catchy rhythms. The judicious use of screaming only accentuates the emotions of the songs rather than dominating the sound, and Poncet has amazing range and ability to switch back and forth throughout the set and songs. I will be on the lookout for their tour after VANS and hope very much to see a full set someday.
BEEBS AND HER MONEY MAKERS
This band is simply unrestricted fun. Not even sure what genre they belong in, but to be in the audience when they play is just a blast. Seeing fully tattooed, mohawked screamo fans dancing in a peaceful circle pit was in and of itself a blast. B&HMM is from Ocala, Florida, and if you are an open-minded fan of music, it is time to give them a listen.
Their genre is hard to explain, but with a horn section, a great guitarist and a kazoo player, imagination is not enough. If you are at a future VANS Tour show, get to their stage and prepare to dance, laugh, and smile, because that is what the whole audience is doing. Beebs at one point joined the general metalcore theme of this year’s Vans and sang one song from her gut, and seeing her in her black and white checkered pants screaming death metal was hysterical.
They played at the local stage on Friday in Pomona, and on the Kevin Says stage on Sunday in Ventura, and they again were just a great deal of fun. With Ska riffs and a fun partying atmosphere, they were a band that captivated their unfortunately small audience. Their finale, “We’re Monkeys” was a total blast and again sharing a circle pit with people more akin to death metal than monkey dances was an invigorating.
A SKYLIT DRIVE
I know they are probably bigger than any of the above bands, but I have to mention them because I thought they did such a great job. Their ability to blend the sounds of two diametrically opposed voices, while playing hard driving music is awesome. Plus, they are from Lodi, CA, a place I frequented as a kid (my grandma lived there). I wonder how many Lodi bands have made it, and really hope someday they do a metalcore cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Lodi." It “screams” to be done.
Ok, let’s play, “one of these bands is not like the other.” Yes, you win…..and it is true…Linkin Park played a surprise set in the middle of the day on a special stage set up in the middle of the venue. They played about 35 minutes of their most famous songs, plus one new song off the new album, and they did it by inviting lead singers up from various bands. Suffice it to say this was an amazing experience even though it was hard to get anywhere near the stage. Linkin Park is an incredible band with so much to offer. And sharing vocal duties must have been a tremendous experience for the many singers they invited up to join them.
Dan Adler was raised in Southern California to a mom and dad, one of whom appreciated Creedence and left wing anti-war politics. By the teenage years, Dan became obsessed with Black Sabbath, listening to the same seven albums repeatedly for 5 years. During this time, his favorite concert experience was seeing Metallica open for a bunch of bands that no longer exist and winning the 1st ever Santa Cruz Air Guitar contest. After several years in Africa listening and dancing to Chimurenga music, Dan returned to have the two best children in the world, one of whom spends a lot of time at concerts with him. What a lucky dad!