Warped Tour often presents unforgiving environments to veteran acts, but Brandon Phillips successfully relied on wit and grace to charm a small audience during his solo set Monday at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater. While the Kansas City-based musician has participated in several of the 18 editions of the traveling music festival as a member of the Architects, the event relentlessly replenishes its fan base and featured entertainers each year.
While a few dozen people heard Phillips perform, audiences as large as 5,000 gathered at the event's main stages to hear the latest sounds and reprises of the recent past. Many of the most popular acts were geared to teenagers who favor punk-tinged pop. Piercing screams accompanied the garish dance music of Colorado's Breathe Carolina, the day's biggest draw among young women. Anti-Flag and Rise Against represented Warped Tour's roots in traditional punk rock, while post-punk acts Taking Back Sunday and the Used appealed to the majority of attendees born in the '80s. Bert McCracken of the Used capitalized on the opportunity to enhance his reputation as one of the most obnoxious front men in rock.
While the divisions between the genres have blurred, metal bands are increasingly displacing punk acts on Warped Tour. The best of them Monday was Every Time I Die, an arty quintet that embraces anarchy. The most riveting act of the day, however, was Dead Sara. The Los Angeles-based quartet fronted by Emily Armstrong offered an incendiary update of grunge. Not since Katy Perry's unlikely appearance in 2008 has an artist so obviously destined for mainstream acclaim played at Warped Tour.
Many of Monday's bands were forgettable while a handful were memorably atrocious. Yet a few unheralded acts stood out. The traditional folk of London's Skinny Lister inspired several couples to waltz. Nashville's Wick-it the Instigator spun music in a "silent disco" in which dancers were provided wireless headphones. Led by the indomitable Alicia Solombrino, Kansas City's the Beautiful Bodies remain a potent live act.
With a dozen stages, a skateboard ramp, meet-and-greet autograph sessions and a plethora of vendors competing for the attention of passerby, many of these acts didn't garner audiences substantially larger than the 50 attracted by Phillips. Warped Tour veterans like Phillips realize, however, that even the members of Breathe Carolina should brace themselves for the cruel day on which they're discarded by their fickle fans.
| Bill Brownlee, Special to The Star
Bill's 10 favorite Warped Tour performances
1. Dead Sara
2. Every Time I Die
3. Skinny Lister
5. Rise to Remain
6. Funeral Party
7. Hyro da Hero
8. The Beautiful Bodies
9. Rise Against
10. The Bangups