“How do you make a napkin dance?” asked one strange reveler over the earth-shattering bass of Breathe Carolina’s performance. “You put a little boogie in it.”
Yeah… it was one of those days.

How do you make a napkin dance?” asked one strange reveler over the earth-shattering bass of Breathe Carolina’s performance. “You put a little boogie in it.

Yeah… it was one of those days.

It was this past Sunday in Denver and the Vans Warped Tour again brought with it an array of talent to celebrate the closing stop of its 20th Anniversary melee at the Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium lot. The atmosphere was suitably loud and packed with a colorful assortment of rock fiending scenesters.

The Warped Tour is an annual event ‘round these parts, and has been for the better part of the last two decades. Lots of disagreeable hype is thrown from every side of the plank before the arrival of the legendary punk rock tour, but one thing that can’t be argued is that it’s a superlative success year in and year out.

While hopscotching our way between hourly disappearing shade spots and half-assed tent shadows we managed to endure the blistering heat for at least a few sets from the performing artists. Here’s our account of the polarizing appearance:

Lighting up in front of the ‘stop-smoking’ van

We’re seeing the ‘truth’ van at a lot more festivals this year than we have in days past. It’s always a beneficial thing to get the message out that smoking is icky and nicotine assuredly makes it so that going through life friendless is a possibility. The van even had a DJ plowing down some Cochlea’s with an inescapable set of radio hits. But in pure juxtaposition to the actual message at hand, most of the tweens were bouncing around to the music with cigarettes lit up like a drunk who talks too much shit. Feel it? The irony?

Meet your new favorite local rapper Reason The Citizen

The gates for the Warped Tour always open around brunch to get as many people through before the actual festivities begin. Because of the lengthy lines it’s damn near impossible to catch the acts closest to the beginning – which is generally when the locals are tossed into the mix. Not so this time around, as Denver by way of San Diego hip-hopper Reason The Citizen sat within a manageable 1:30 pm set time.

We’ve known Reason The Citizen for a quick minute now, as we caught wind of his skills back in October. This wasn’t an introduction to his industrious set or tongue twisting delivery on this day; it was just a nice way to connect locally. The stage was a pop-up, ground level affair and wasn’t much to look at, but it did put more of an underground dynamic into the tone of the performers. In short: The talents there didn’t need a fancy setup to deliver memories.

Who threw the joint at Every Time I Die’s lead singer?

Because you’re our new favorite hero….and also a felon.

Vocalist Keith Buckley was in the midst of a heartfelt thank you when an airborne joint made its way to the front of the stage. “Stop trying to fuck up my seriousness with your drug culture,” Buckley joked. Only in Colorado.

That awkward moment when…

…the band tells everyone in the audience to clap, and nobody knows when to stop. It happens at every other show: One of the band members want their thirty-five seconds of demigod like control over the audience at hand and commands everyone to clap in unison. This always implies that the crowd wants to do it first of all, or that everyone sports an internal metronome capable of making such an evenly spaced beat to not make the build sound like a busted shopping cart rattling down uneven concrete. 

The next problem with this whole charade is that an audience is never told when to stop. It makes it extremely awkward for the last few people stuck in a clueless stupor, gallivanting away like they should be awarded some sort of stage tambourine and a record deal.

We’re going to side with Lorde on this one, and just ask that we stop being told to put our hands up in the air. So there.

Anyone catch the guy shooting people with toilet paper during Less Than Jake’s set?

That’s Kenny Leath. He’s often referred to as the best stage manager / roadie in the world and has been working with the Warped Tour for 15 glorious years. It’s not unusual for him to be running around in mushroom hats shooting people in the face with toilet paper. It’s also not unusual that the bands are always playing exactly their allotted minutes at the exact time they’re supposed to play. The tour runs seamlessly with as little problems as possible – all thanks to Kenny the badass and many others like him.

Couldn’t Warped Tour have thrown any more shade?

Logistics, logistics, logistics…it's one of the most evil words in the business. Not only does a festival of this magnitude have to run with enough profit to make it worth a damn, but staffers also have to figure out how to move it along precisely throughout the country with little wiggle room for error. We haven’t even mentioned each locale’s different permits, rules and protocols either. This is where logistics come in and get to be a large, twisted pot full of suck.

But all the headaches aside, we saw plenty of room for the tour to provide fans with a few more places to cool off. It’s August, on blacktop, with no clouds in sight; and people were hanging out in front of port-o-potties, under fence wrapping, or in the shadows of light poles just to obtain a sliver of manageable comfort. Splurging for only four spigots of running water between thousands of revelers is nice *sarcasm*, but stringing up misters or empty tents for refuge wouldn’t have been all that difficult to manage.

Breathe Carolina changes with the times, and that’s ok

The post-hardcore meets electro rock meets EDM meets everything else act in Breathe Carolina is something that Colorado has known for quite some time. It’s always been a band that could identify music trends in the industry and use the addictive nature of them to its advantage. After the departure of throatest and co-vocalist Kyle Even a few years back, the band swayed slightly away from its roots in hardcore and more into the realm of EDM. Or what the genre is also now known as: The quickest rising thing of ever, right now.

It’s a formula that works and Breathe Carolina shows no sign of slowing down with the shift of tides. As far as we can tell they’ve got their ducks in order. Big beautiful orange balls and a few thousand chaotic kids accented the frenetic set and those realities may just be the proof that what they’re doing is exactly what they should be.

And now, one word reviews of all the bands we saw

Air Dubai (distnguished), Bad Rabbits (pushy.), Bayside (dashing.), Breathe Carolina (balls.), Less Than Jake (royalty.), Yellowcard (nostalgic.), K. Flay (recalescent.), Reason The Citizen (dominating.), Every Time I Die (abusive.), Echosmith (calming.)

Oh, and about that strange ‘changing with the times thing’

In a recent online article about whether or not the Warped Tour is a disrupted fad because of its inclinations towards revenue, the author points towards a ‘decline’ (wherever that comes from) in the subculture because the Internet rules all and punk rock isn’t needed anymore. This was all coming from someone who admittedly had Facebook in high school, an age trait that immediately disqualifies the author from ever representing any kind of “old school” persona or reminisce about what the tour was like almost twenty years ago. He wasn’t there, his argument we’ve deemed invalid.

To counter the author’s claims, Kevin Lyman, the creator of the Warped Tour, has always maintained that the bands and sounds have had to shift with the trends in the attendees. It’s like, oh we don’t know, the real world and everything else in it?

If he were to have stuck to the big guns of yore like Rancid, Pennywise, Sugar Ray, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Black Flag et al. the tour would have been kaput years ago. To say that kids don’t need punk rock – their interpretation of punk rock – is blasphemy. Some of us in the office get the opportunity to wear the old person hat now and it’s praiseworthy to see tickets still being sold by the metric fuck ton to a show that thrives in individual expression.

Warped lives on, punk lives on (even if it's in much different forms than before) and some of these higher end media outlets need to take a good look in the mirror one day to see who’s really killing off the relevancy of future thinkers. It’s not the Internet’s fault, and certainly not the Warped Tour’s either.

Carpe that fucking diem.