Warped Tour 2012, Camelback Ranch Baseball Stadium, 6/28/12
Another standout of the day, and vastly different from the other acts on the tour was hip-hop group Champagne Champagne. The crowd gathered at their stage was small yet surprisingly energetic. There was a sense that no one quite knew what to expect from the three-piece group, especially with songs with titles like "Soda and Pop Rocks."
Melissa Fossum The Used
Back at the main stages, bands The Used and Yellowcard played to large audiences. The big surprise there was The Used singer Bert McCracken boasting about how great the band was and that they had "the greatest song ever written" shortly before jamming into the first 10 seconds of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which quickly melted into "Box Full of Sharp Objects." I didn't stay around long for fear of missing something great on one of the small stages.
I couldn't have been more right when Ohio's Mah Toka was playing to nearly no one. This traditional and heavier-sounding punk band, reminiscent of early Rancid, played a few songs including "Ode to My Family" and "Say 10" as the set closer. The set suffered greatly from being too close to a nearby stage where Neo Geo, a band whose Gwen Stefani-esque singer was infecting the surrounding area with horrid music. Toka, at one point, jumped from the stage and began singing with the few loyal fans in attendance. At one point, his mouth started to bleed shortly before he took a swig of Monster Energy Drink and sprayed it into the crowd. This was yet another band that deserved better real estate on the tour lineup.
Melissa Fossum Matt Tonka
As the sun began to set and the grounds cooled off, You Me at Six, a U.K. pop-punk band took another small stage with a surprisingly large crowd whose average age probably hovered around 15. When they played "Stay With Me," a slow ode to prepubescent love, I took it as my cue to bolt, but not before cruising past another small stage, where a seven-piece ska/reggae band from New Jersey, Echo Movement, energized a few onlookers with a decent Caribbean groove, complete with horn and saxophone.
Melissa Fossum Warped fans...
As I began the grueling pilgrimage out, trudging through piles of empty cans and crushed water bottles, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I was delightfully surprised at the few discoveries of the day. I was shocked that the majority of bands I really enjoyed were nowhere near the main stages, and that those who were popular enough to grace the two were a blur of similar-sounding metal and pop punk bands. The hidden treasures of this year's Warped Tour where to be found elsewhere and I was excited that I had stumbled upon them.
Amid it all, I also had discovered that, yes, I am now too old for The Warped Tour. But I didn't feel bad about it. I've grown wise in my old age and have little use for mosh pits and crowd surfing, but I, like everyone who came out on the tour, hungered for something great and despite it all, The Warped Tour still provides that.
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See also: Warped Tour 2012 at Camelback Ranch Stadium full slideshow
See also: Vans Warped Tour 2012: The Good, the Bad, and the Auto-Tuned
See also: Crowdsourced: Fans Beat the Heat at Vans Warped Tour 2012