I am sitting in my apartment, skin covered in a layers of sweat, sunscreen, and dirt, after spending the day at the Vans Warped Tour at the Pomona Fairplex. Everyone heads to Warped Tour with the list of bands they have to see (mine included The Story So Far, Man Overboard, Motion City Soundtrack, The Wonder Years, and Forever The Sickest Kids, to name a few), but the beautiful thing about Warped Tour is how many new bands you are exposed to just wandering around the area.
Whether it’s was due to a new sound, interesting wardrobe, or an overwhelming crowd, several newer bands to the tour piqued my interest this year. Check out the top five bands that caught my attention (most hail from California, which I promise is a complete coincidence) and keep an eye out for the full day’s review soon!
Warped Tour brings in some of the best alt rock bands from around the world, and Australia’s Hands Like Houses drew a gigantic crowd. While I normally shy away from the hardcore bands (hey, I was raised on oldies and Backstreet Boys!), their melodies were undeniably catchy and Trenton Woodley’s soaring vocals made me stop in my tracks. Signed to Rise Records, this rock group translated their polished sound to a high-energy, on-point stage performance, and I’ll definitely be picking up their new album, Unimagine, when it’s released on July 23rd.
There was no missing what was definitely the most interesting lead singer duo on Warped. Ricky Reed and newly-added Novena Carmel created bass-heavy music fit for any party and hyped the crowd to a fever pitch. Wallpaper has already played Coachella and South by Southwest this year, and with an upcoming release, Ricky Reed Is Real, dropping on July 23rd and club-based music taking over Top 40 nowadays, this band is poised to be spinning on radios soon.
3. Emily’s Army
Fresh out of high school, this Oakland-based pop punk band looked like the youngest group on this year’s tour. The group’s pop riffs and heavy rock influence instantly reminded me of Green Day, which is no surprise since Billie Joe Armstrong’s son Joey plays drums. Emily’s Army derives its name from members Max and Cole Beckers’ fifteen-year-old cousin Emily, who was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at birth. Angst-ridden songs from their recent release, Lost at Seventeen, hinted at themes of growing up, distrusting authority, and figuring life out as you go along. There’s something wonderfully hopeful about seeing young musicians putting themselves out there so early, and I give them major kudos for holding their own on this year’s Warped. Look for our video interview with them coming soon!
Full disclosure — I am a sucker for any female-fronted bands, especially ones that go big or go home, and (Michelle) Beebs and Her Money Makers do just that. One of the most upbeat performances of the day, Beebs was a modern day pinup queen with the eye-catching wardrobe to match as she performed songs off the group’s recently-released, appropriately-titled album No Sleep Tonight! The energetic Orlando-based band created a blend of ska, reggae, and funk that grabbed the attention of most concertgoers walking by. Each additional audience member just added fuel to the fire and showed that this band’s performances live up to their upbeat, feel-good music.
I was immediately drawn to this group (formerly known as Ready, Set, Go!) when I saw lead vocalist Sydney Sierota, just sixteen years old, banging on a tom-tom drum while belting out impressive pop vocals. Her three brothers rounded out Echosmith and range in age from sixteen to twenty years old, making them another young band on the tour and earning them major credit. Hailing from here in Los Angeles, this band of siblings drew a huge crowd thanks to their tight pop music, heavy promotion throughout the Fairplex, and enthusiastic performance that was geared toward the crowd. I’ll be looking for their debut album later this year and am happy to add another California-based band to my list of “new favorites.”