JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

August 2, 2013
Gexa Energy Pavilion
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Roy Turner
Photos by Brian Ullrich

Vans Warped Tour 2013

Dallas Gets Warped On The Hottest Day Of The Summer

I knew it was going to be hot and I prepared as much as one can for this kind of heat. There is "hot" and then there's "Dallas, Texas in August hot" - How hot you ask? The first thing I saw when I walked up to the make shift Vans Warped Tour guest list tent to get my credintials was an unfortunate young lady being hualed out on a wheelchair from heat exhaustion, and that was before I even walked into the Gexa Energy Pavilion.

Though the producers of the event have a massive undertaking of staging over 50 bands and close to a hundred vendors, they didn't make it any easier on the patrons by placing the majority of the vendors and all the stages but two, outside the venue walls in a gated, uncovered part of the parking lot with no fucking shade. A perfectly running venue with shade, running water and bathrooms but 4,500 of the days 5k attendees were standing on concrete, in direct sun, being charged $4 for water. That is just asking for trouble.

It wasn't all gloom and doom - in its 19th year, the festival still remains a destination among young people eager for an excuse to run around practically naked and have fun. With its ever changing lineup, this year focused almost exclusively on newer up and coming acts, with just a few veterans thrown in for good measure. One of those veteran acts, Chiodos, was the first band I saw, playing to a crowd of moshing kids up front, while those same kids' parents were jumping up and down in the back.

It's such a cross-pollination of culture these days - punks, emo kids and the explosion of Electronic Dance Music are all the same mall-party and increasingly difficult to differentiate. In fact, the current face of the electronic sub-genre (the ghastly) Dubstep is Sonny Moore from Warped Tour vets, From First To Last now better known as Skrillex.

So in the spirit of having your finger on the pulse of everything current, naturally there was the addition of the "EDM" stage, however it didn't appear to be much of a success. I went over to check out Chris Marshall, who is from Texas and performs under Crizzly, who played to almost no one. Hello hometown fans!

Goldhouse was, hands down, the highlight of the Domo stage. The first thing their bio says about them is that their music is "not meant for boring people," and that's probably the most accurate way to describe them. You can't summarize their sound as pop or electro-hip hop; it's easier to say that their sound is akin to dancehall techno mixed with a combination of pop and hip-hop. These guys ruled, holding a worst dancing fan contest and challenging each other to drum-offs. Great fun.

The only other band to come close to this was Boston-based Big D and The Kids Table. A combination of ska and punk, picture the Beastie Boys in their heyday mixed with big band sounds of the swinging '20s. Quite the combination, but the insane energy of seven guys hopping around on stage with saxophones and a white guy adept at rapping makes it work.

Naturally I had to check out locals Bowling for Soup who are old friends and who put on a fun show as always filled with enough humor that you laughed as much as you rocked.

Last up was the band I was most anticipating - The Black Dahlia Murder - One of the heaviest and most genuinely frightening bands I've heard as of late. Frontman Trevor Strnad is this burly, keg-bellied dude who looked like a tattooed sack of potatoes. Their set was as punishing as the heat and one of the most memorable. I would def be interested in seeing them in a much more comfortable environment.

Advertisers aiming for the teen demographic, at least judging by this show, where corporate sponsorships made the Warped grounds feel like one product placement opportunity after another. From beef jerky manufacturers, video game producers, the U.S. armed forces, fast food restaurants and even car companies (a Kia Soul was positioned between the two main stages).

No matter what reputation Warped Tour has garnered over the years, it's at least remained true to its original purpose: just to bring a crowd of people of all ages together to hear some music and have some fun.