SCRANTON — It was another long, hot day on Montage Mountain on Tuesday as the Vans Warped Tour made its annual trek to the Toyota Pavilion.
It was also very eclectic as 90 bands graced nine stages and provided 10 hours of continuous music in genres such as punk rock, ska, alternative rock, hip hop, reggae, pop, metalcore, post-hardcore and seemingly endless variations of each.
That’s the beauty of a traveling festival such as the Vans Warped Tour: It gives the audience so many different choices and exposes them to music and bands they might not otherwise have encountered. But with so many choices and so many things happening at the same time, the concert-goer can easily become overwhelmed.
One plan of attack for a day such as Tuesday, with temperatures in the 90s and high humidity, is to stay under the big tent and view the bands presented on the two stages there. You still get a good cross-sampling of what the festival had to offer, without standing in the blazing sun at one of the satellite stages.
By doing just that, this reviewer was able to take in the sights and sounds of 10 bands in about five hours, as each band was allotted 30 minutes to make a connection with the crowd and hopefully leave them with a lasting impression.
Up first was Forever The Sickest Kids, an alternative pop and rock band from Dallas, Texas. This quintet put on a good show and used its 30 minutes wisely, playing seven of its most accessible and popular numbers, as lead singer Jonathan Cook pulled at, stretched out and finally tore up his light green T-shirt. Standouts included “She’s a Lady” from 2008’s debut “Underdog Alma Mater,” “What Do You Want From Me,” from 2009 EP “The Weekend: Friday,” and “Nice To Meet You,” the band’s most recent single from the album “J.A.C.K.”
Big D and the Kids Table, a punk/ska/reggae collective from Boston, was determined to fit in as many songs as humanly possible. The band’s fast-charging songs with multiple tempo changes and accented by tenor saxophone and trombone were well received as the somewhat large gathering in front of the stage body surfed and danced throughout the performance. Lead singer David McWane chastised himself for talking too much when the band was forced to cut a song, “only” making it through eight in its 30 minutes.
Dayton, Ohio’s Hawthorne Heights, a post-hardcore and alternative rock quintet whose first two albums went gold, played six of its most-popular tunes to a much-more subdued crowd than the one that had just witnessed Big D and company. Standouts included “Silver Bullet,” “Saying Sorry” and a few from most-recent album “Zero,” with singer JT Woodruff sitting on the front of the stage for the final two numbers.
The Warped Tour took on an international flair as Tonight Alive, a quintet fronted by Jenna McDougall which came all the way from Sydney, Australia, took over. The band and its 19-year-old lead singer who has been described as an ingénue with attitude, played a handful of pop punk songs, filmed a promo for the folks back home and snapped pictures from the stage. Musical highlights included debut single “Wasting Away,” most recent one, “The Ocean,” and set finisher, “Breaking and Entering.”
Story of the Year, a post-hardcore band from St. Louis, scored big with “Anthem of Our Dying Day,” “Wake Up” and “Until the Day I Die,” which featured bass guitarist Adam Russell roaming through the crowd, playing from on top of the chairs in the 100-section and moshing with fans in the pit in front of the stage.
Stick to Your Guns, a hardcore band from Orange County, Calif., was not much to my liking, but I quite enjoyed The Summer Set, a pop rock band from Scottsdale, Ariz. Standouts for the latter included early tunes “Someone Like You” and “Chelsea” and a handful of tunes from new album “Legendary.”
Also took in partial sets from Action Item, a pop band from Bergen, N.J., which seemed absolutely thrilled to finally be part of the Warped Tour (“First time I went to Warped, I was in the eighth grade,” said singer Brian Cag), Gin Wigmore, a singer-songwriter from New Zealand, and The Early November, a pop-punk band from New Jersey.