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Commentary: Warped Tour still worth attending despite angsty preteen audience

Courtesy of Rise Records

The summer music festival season is closing in fast, and as a result many official lineups have finally been announced. These festivals are scheduled to take place in the coming months in all areas of the country, and your particular tastes in music will likely determine your music festivals of choice. Each week, I’ll weigh in on an upcoming festival.

A festival that is truly either loved or hated by most is Vans Warped Tour. Since its birth in 1995, it has brought both major headliners and smaller unknown acts together in one setting. The festival tours the country all summer, meaning travel shouldn’t be more than a few hours to the nearest location. Unfortunately, many of the people in attendance are preteens rebelling against their parents and the man, with attitudes to match. If you’re willing to suck it up, though, you’re in for a treat. Here are some bands scheduled to appear throughout the summer that I think are worth a listen.

Tonight Alive

This band has two things working for it without even considering its music. First, it’s from Australia. Second, the lead vocalist is Jenna McDougall – just one girl in the miniscule smattering of female talent on this tour. Both of these facts make the band cool by association, but what about the actual music?

If you guessed that would be awesome, too, you’d be correct. Though Tonight Alive is generally placed in the broad category of pop punk, its lyrics are much more human than you might believe. That’s right – music that makes you feel real feelings while still making you want to break out those thrashing dance moves. Even the acoustic versions of Tonight Alive’s songs, which were made available on a full-length acoustic version of its 2011 album “What Are You So Scared Of?,” have enough of a beat so you can keep moving to the music rather than staring awkwardly at the band members as they sit onstage. 

Tonight Alive has scheduled appearances for the duration of the tour. If you want to see this band in action, listen for “Let It Land” and get ready to jump around a lot. Plan footwear accordingly.


For a band that officially formed about a year ago, Issues is already taking the metalcore world by storm. The band is like a splinter faction started by ex-members of the similar band Woe, Is Me, but surpasses it in all ways possible as seen by the hordes of fans that have jumped ship from old to new to support Issues. 

Both the band’s clean and explicit vocals add to the overall quality of the music, a rare feat only made more impressive by the soulful, R&B-inspired sound of vocalist Tyler Carter’s voice. The band makes this eclectic mix of crooning and screaming work, and no matter how jarring the growls might seem, you will always be drawn back in by Carter’s soothing voice.

Though Issues is only set to appear on Warped Tour from July 23 until Aug. 4 rather than the entire summer run, it is definitely worthy of making time for if it appears in a town near you (of which Cincinnati is one). There’s no question that this band will play the popular “King of Amarillo” somewhere in the set, so be prepared to get your teen angst on.

Sleeping With Sirens

It’s annoying that I like this band so much, because its crazed fans are a prime example of why you shouldn’t go to Warped Tour. Yet I’m telling you that this is a set you shouldn’t miss, which speaks volumes about the actual talent of the band. The hardcore style of music provides the perfect balance for lead vocalist Kellin Quinn’s emotion-driven, heartfelt voice and lyrics. What little bit of screaming that does appear in various songs is easily tolerable.

Listen to “Let’s Cheers to This” from Sleeping With Sirens’ 2011 album of the same name if you want a taste of this band’s style. Prepare for chills and don’t be surprised if you swoon a bit because Quinn’s voice is so powerful. 

So if you’re willing to brave the crazies, take your fearless self to whatever stage on which Sleeping With Sirens is scheduled to appear for the entire run of Warped Tour. Godspeed.


More girl power comes in a different form with Sierra Kusterbeck, the lead vocalist of this band. Where Tonight Alive is bouncy and bright, the music of VersaEmerge’s female powerhouse is dark and mysterious and sure to have you singing along as soon as you know all of the lyrics.

“Fixed At Zero” is the title track from the band’s 2010 debut album and is a must-listen if you’re still unsure of whether seeing VersaEmerge is for you, even though there shouldn’t be a question.

Lucky for you, VersaEmerge will be appearing for the duration of the tour, so there is no excuse for missing out on what is guaranteed to be an excellent show.

Warped Tour is set to hit various cities throughout the summer, running from June 15 to Aug. 4 in the U.S. A complete listing of venues and artists scheduled to appear is available on the tour’s website. Ticket prices for the tour vary.

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