The Same but Different: The 2012 Vans Warped Tour at Reliant Center
|Crowds below these clouds above.|
It would be hard to argue that Breathe Carolina aren't the biggest band on the tour this year. The crowd that drew for their 12:35 p.m. set was massive and completely on board with what the group had to offer. Mixing rock and EDM sounds together is really clever on their part, because by the time it gets to the breakdown you aren't sure what to expect: A heavy guitar riff, a new beat, or some wobble bass. It's a completely familiar yet uniquely modern sound and the crowd ate it up.
Breathe Carolina weren't the only dance group on the bill. I caught a bit of Stepdad's set later in the afternoon and it was a nice bit of electronic pop- happy music for happy people. It's infectious and they seemed to win over a few of the passing crowd, going to show that a good song will reach people no matter the style.
Of course, even with the diversity, the fest was also heavy on bands returning to a fest they once toured with a decade ago. Taking Back Sunday fans seemed to be everywhere, and there was lots of chatter for New Found Glory and Yellowcard.
The Avengers took the day off from saving the world to take in some Anti-Flag.
For my money, the best of the old guard was Anti-Flag. They may have played to a crowd noticeably smaller than some of the other bands from the main stage, but they still brought the punk fury they've built their career on. Even now songs like "Fuck Police Brutality" just work; underneath all the aggression and the message there's still a core of great, catchy songwriting.
One of the great things about Warped is that there's always a chance you'll discover a new band to be blown away by.
Consider the guys in Belle Manoir. I can't say that I knew much about them other than that they were from Houston and had won a chance to play the Ernie Ball stage this year, but I like to support the locals so I made the trek out to catch their set.
A member of Belle Manoir gets up close with the crowd.
Had I not known better I would have been completely fooled in to thinking they were Warped veterans. They put on a super-solid four-song set, anchored by some great guitar work and a good stage presence. The guys have a following and people showed up to see them, singing along and moshing, which is a rarity for obscure, early in the day small stage acts.
Rarely do you get a group of guys playing their first Warped set so fully formed and confident. I can easily see them playing the fest again in the future.
BM weren't the only Houston natives that I caught. Hyro Da Hero, born in Houston and now recording out in L.A., is a rapper unlike most from our fair city. When everything is on, he's like a fun Rage Against the Machine. When things are off it's something you're more likely to find at the Gathering of the Juggalos.
His set wasn't bad, just frustrating. Hyro has a lot of potential, but just has to find the right way to bring it all together.