20 things we learned at Warped Tour UK

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On October 18, London’s Alexandra Palace got another taste of the US punk institution as the Warped Tour rolled in for one day only. Here’s how it unfolded…

**FIRST AND FOREMOST, WARPED IS STILL A PUNK FESTIVAL
**The first band we see after the doors at Ally Pally open for Warped UK 2015 is the Kenneths, who ask the small but might crowd gathered if they remember “a thing called punk rock”, to which the response is a resounding “Fuck yes”. Fresh off the US Warped Tour, the three-piece sound like early Green Day, they sport Mohawks and denim jackets, and in true Ramones fashion they wear their own band T-shirts. Their songs also burst with punk rock spirit, and they even treat the early birds to a lavish dose of the old cowbell. Talk about starting the day right. (MS)

Kenneths: up the punx

Kenneths: up the punx
(Image: © Sandra Sorensen)

THE WORD ALIVE SEEM TO BE CHASING A WORLD RECORD
Kicking off the proceedings after a half-hour delay while the final bits of the stage are assembled is The Word Alive, and they’re not letting a dwindling crowd dull their enthusiasm. They play as if Alexandra Palace was full to its 7,300 capacity and even attempt what appears to be a world record for the longest scream – frontman Tyler Smith lets out a roar that lasts a good fifteen seconds. Guitarist Zack Hansen is in his element, too, soloing like his life depends on it, and they prove that the old trick of getting everyone to sit down and jump up during the chorus really does work. (TDG)

LIKE YOU, ROB LYNCH WENT TO WARPED TO HAVE A GOOD TIME
And this time he’s brought his full band with him. Indeed, this is the first time we’ve witnessed the British punk troubadour play accompanied, and the addition of electric guitar, bass, drums and keyboards really bring his acoustic sing-alongs to life. It’s barely 3pm and we haven’t touched a drop of alcohol, but Rob has us joining in the choruses on tracks like Hawking as if it’s closing time after the best night of our lives. His charisma is truly infectious, and it’s great to see another US Warped Tour luminary showing the UK fans a good time. (MS)

(Image: © Sandra Sorensen)

NICE BOYS DO PLAY ROCK ’N’ ROLL
Moose Blood are four nice polite young chaps from Canterbury who write emotionally charged songs about their parents. Their singer Eddy Brewerton is so softly spoken and openly vulnerable you feel as if he might break into tears at any moment, and in between songs he keeps thanking everyone profusely for coming to see his band. He also seems genuinely surprised by the turn out. But he shouldn’t be. For whilst they might not spit or curse, or appear on the surface to have much in the way of edge, Moose Blood bloody well rock. Their songs teem with romance, pain, honesty and promise, and if you’re not familiar with their astonishing debut I’ll Keep You in Mind, From Time to Time then quite frankly your life is incomplete. (MS)

Moose Blood

Moose Blood
(Image: © Sandra Sorensen)

FOREVER CAME CALLING DOES POP PUNK PROPERLY
Three guitarists playing in perfect harmony make for some sweet counter-melodies as Forever Came Calling take to the Jukely Stage to play a slice of pure, unadulterated pop-punk. The California four-piece show that the old devices of sing-along choruses, yearning lyrics and twinkling guitars still pack as much punch now as they did during pop-punk’s first rise to popularity in the early ‘90s, and when guitarist Thomas Lovejoy proclaims that playing music is his ‘dream come true’, it’s like he really means it. He also recounts a tale of getting heatstroke while playing the American Warped Tour – something he definitely isn’t in danger of in the UK’s lukewarm climate. (TDG)

WARPED TOUR IS FOR THE KIDS
“A lot of people get mad and say that Warped Tour used to be punk rock, but it was never all one kind of music,” says Reel Big Fish’s Aaron Barrett. “People only remember what they want to hear. I remember doing Warped Tour in 1997 and Ice-T and Body Count was there, and Sugar Ray and Limp Bizkit were on that one too. So it’s always been really diverse, and I think it’s really just the soundtrack of the young generation at that time. Of course someone who’s in their 40s now is going to look at Warped Tour and say, ‘This sucks! I don’t know any of these bands.’ But the way I look at it, it’s just what the kids are into right now. So I don’t know why we’re on it, but I think Kevin Lyman puts us on just to mix it up a little bit – like a palette cleanser. You need a clown at every circus I guess, and that’s us!”

Reel Big Fish's Aaron Barrett

Reel Big Fish's Aaron Barrett
(Image: © Sandra Sorensen)

…AND THE KIDS REALLY LOVE MERCH
For every band on the bill at Warped UK, there are twice as many merch stalls and clothing stands. That’s all well and good, because for kids in attendance today it’s their chance to fully immerse themselves in a world of alternative culture and get a taste of what the stateside festival is all about, but it’s also important to remember (and here’s where we sound like old farts) that the music should come first. We’re not saying don’t come and get kitted out in a load of cool clobber, but don’t also forget the main reason why you’re there: to discover new music. (MS)

AUGUST BURNS RED PUT THE ‘FUN’ IN METAL
Who said metal takes itself seriously all the time? Certainly not August Burns Red. William Luhrs seems to harbour ambitions of being a juggler as he flings his mic between his hands, and breaks into a moonwalk during an instrumental breakdown after Identity, from their latest record Found In Far Away Places. The crowd laps up the new material as JB Brubaker shows his metal allegiance with some seriously fast-fingered soloing, proving that the positive accolades heaped on their newest album are truly well deserved. (TDG)

August Burns Red juggler William Luhrs

August Burns Red juggler William Luhrs
(Image: © Sandra Sorensen)

KEVIN LYMAN IS STILL VERY MUCH AT WARPED’S CORE
It would be easy for Kevin Lyman, founder of Warped Tour and head honcho since 1995, to take a step back and let his personnel run the day-to-day proceedings. But that’s not his style. He’s on the ground, among the crowds and the bands, staying true to his proclamation that he wants to be personally approached by fans with their line-up fantasies, praise or problems. It isn’t just the big acts he has time for, either; we caught him deep in conversation with up-and-coming punks The Kenneths, and he tells Team Rock that he thinks Set It Off are destined for great things. With this kind of dedication, it’s no surprise Warped is in its 20th year. (TDG)

BLACK VEIL BRIDES ARE A HIT WITH PARENTS
One unique feature of Warped is the adult crèche, where parents chaperoning their offspring can sit, read the paper, or even go to sleep, as one tired mum was doing in the armchairs provided. They’re not all sitting waiting for the end, though. Anne-Marie, Amanda, Jenny and Janet, who’ve accompanied their Black Veil Brides-loving kids to Warped, are actually looking forward to watching the band themselves. “It’s all we’ve heard in our house for the past two-and-a-half years! I’m quite into In The End now,” says Amanda. “We’ll be watching them later. I think they should let the parents stand next to Andy Biersack just so we can show our kids!” (TDG)

Chaotic scenes at Warped's adult crèche

Chaotic scenes at Warped's adult crèche
(Image: © Sandra Sorensen)

CHUNK! NO, CAPTAIN CHUNK! ARE GIVING THE AMERICANS A RUN FOR THEIR MONEY
It’s easy to see how Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! broke out of their native France, despite their mouthful of a name. Their jaunty pop-punk is generic in places, but, as Forever Came Calling proved earlier in the day, there’s no point fixing a formula that ain’t broke. They swing between metalcore-influenced screams and melodic sections like France’s answer to A Day To Remember, and are easily in a league with the likes of The Wonder Years and All Time Low. They nod to their influences with a cover of Smashmouth’s All Star, which momentarily turns the Jagermeister stage into mass karaoke. If anyone’s having a good time, it’s this lot. (TDG)

Chunk rock

Chunk rock
(Image: © Sandra Sorensen)

IN HEARTS WAKE FLY THE FLAG FOR AUSSIE METAL
Parkway Drive may be the first name that springs to mind when Australian metal is mentioned, but In Hearts Wake show they’re worth taking just as much notice of. They’re one of those rare bands that actually sound better live than they do on record, and they prove it as they tear through tracks from their latest album, Skydancer. Even in the sound-swallowing hall, they’re crisp and melodic, and judging by the amount of people heartily singing along, they’ve well and truly made their mark on the British scene. They’re also a token of Kevin Lyman’s commitment to having a diverse line-up – they’re no pop-punks, but somehow they fit right in. (TDG)

FRANK CARTER STOLE THE SHOW
The ex-Gallows frontman knows he’s the black sheep on today’s bill. But he also relishes the role. And he’s here to do one of two things: convert you to punk rock, or scare you away for life. He walks on stage pulsating with rage like one of the infected zombies from Danny Boyles’s 28 Days Later, and throughout the course of the next half an hour he slags off headliners Black Veil Brides and Asking Alexandria, taunts a nearby group of Young Guns fans by comparing them to his own by saying, ‘This is what real fans sound like’, and basically offers the whole room to a fight as he instigates by far and away the biggest circle pit of not just today, but of any Warped UK event to date. He came to steal the show and that’s exactly what he does, ending on a song called I Hate You. Nicely done Frank. (MS)

Frank Carter sans Rattlesnakes

Frank Carter sans Rattlesnakes
(Image: © Sandra Sorensen)

**CREEPER ARE GOING TO BE MASSIVE
**Bringing back the punk theatrics AFI left behind is Creeper, and they’ve attracted such a crowd to the Kevin Says stage that it’s a two-in, two-out policy. The relentlessly jaunty punks prove that glam can be accessible when done in moderation; they save big ballad Henley’s Ghost until last, of course, and show in the process that they’re ready for much bigger venues. A big, heartfelt, piano-led number like that belongs in an auditorium it can boom across, although they still get plenty of arms in the air in the downstairs bar.

Creeper's Will Gould

Creeper's Will Gould
(Image: © Sandra Sorensen)

YOUNG GUNS ARE AT THE TOP OF THEIR GAME
Singer Gustav Wood tweeted something about technical difficulties after their set had finished, but what we caught of the band’s performance sounded watertight. The only problem they had was following the utter devastation brought on by Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes, but they dealt with the jibes thrown their way with grace and style, reminding people that they were in their home town and there was no way the band were going to have anything less than a spectacular show. From old songs like Winter Kiss, through to newer singles like Speaking in Tongues and the rock anthem that is Bones, the boys inspired mass sing-alongs and put on a hometown show to be proud of. (MS)

**HECK NEED TO RELEASE THEIR HECKING ALBUM ALREADY
**The band formerly know as Baby Godzilla have been making a name for themselves as one of the most explosive live acts in the country for some time now, but that buzz can only go so far. Compared to the crowd we saw gathered for their performance on the Lock Up Stage at Reading last summer, today’s numbers are disappointingly small. Not that the band let that affect their performance in any way: it’s still as if we’ve walked onto the set of Apocalypse Now as we head below ground to the Kevin Says Stage to check them out, with bodies and bits of equipment flying everywhere. As a live band they never give anything less than 300%, but they need to get that debut album out pronto if they want to capitalize on the fanbase they’ve built through touring over the last couple of years. Are you listening to us Heck?

Heck get a round in

Heck get a round in
(Image: © Sandra Sorensen)

**DENIS STOFF LOOKS LIKE HE’S BEEN IN ASKING ALEXANDRIA FOR AGES
**Asking Alexandria’s first UK performance with Denis Stoff is the true litmus test for the new frontman. After cancelling planned shows in Manchester and London due to Denis’s visa issues, they could have found themselves coming on stage to a bunch of pissed-off fans, but what they get is an incredibly welcoming bunch, moshing along like AA never went anywhere. Denis fits right in, and has the crowd obeying his every command to sit down, stand up, push back – it’s a wonder the joker of the band, Ben Bruce, doesn’t pick a moment to shout “Simon says…”. He does throw in some humour, though, getting the crowd to chant the Power Rangers theme song, before giving a heartfelt thank you to the audience for “welcoming Denis into our family”. New tracks *I Won’t Give In *and *Undivided *get their first UK live outing, and mark the return to a heavier sound for the band. Is this what the fans want? Judging by the reaction, it would appear that they do.

Asking Alexandria's Denis Stoff

Asking Alexandria's Denis Stoff
(Image: © Sandra Sorensen)

THE BANDS STILL BELIEVE IN THE SPIRIT OF WARPED
“The number one thing about Warped Tour for me is Kevin Lyman,” says Anti-Flag’s Justin Sane. “He started it with this idea that when you go to a regular concert, you go to see the headliner. But you might miss a really great opening band that you should also see. So his idea was to announce the bands that are going to play, but don’t announce the line-up, and change it up every day so that people are forced to see music and bands that they might otherwise not take the time to see. I think that’s a really cool concept and I love that idea. It’s one of the reasons I’ve always been a big supporter of Warped.”

Anti-Flag's Justin Sane

Anti-Flag's Justin Sane
(Image: © Sandra Sorensen)

THERE WAS SOMETHING THAT WASN’T QUITE RIGHT
This festival is obviously still ran with the same passion and principles as when it first started in the US 20 years ago, and the bands who’ve been around for years playing it still have faith in the format – but at this year’s Warped UK, there seemed to be a significant divide between the younger and older generations. The crowds for the heritage Warped bands were alarmingly small, and it was saddening to see iconic acts like Reel Big Fish and Anti-Flag play brilliant sets in front of such minuscule numbers. Something seemed off, and we can’t quite put our finger on it. (MS)

YOU CAN COUNT ON BLACK VEIL BRIDES TO DELIVER THE GOODS
The booming acoustics of the main hall might be doing their best to swallow up all of Black Veil Brides’ middle frequencies, but it’s going to take more than that to put off a bunch of fans who’ve painted their faces with various band-inspired designs. If there’s one thing to be said about the Brides, it’s that they’re consistent. Fire, posturing guitar solos, and Andy peeling his top off are all certainties at their shows, and their setlist doesn’t change much, but the likes of Coffin and Knives and Pens never fail to get a reaction. They know what the crowd wants, and they deliver it with gusto every time – it’s highly likely that even the parents enjoyed it. (TDG)

Black Veil Brides' Andy Biersack

Black Veil Brides' Andy Biersack
(Image: © Sandra Sorensen)
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Black Veil Brides' Andy Biersack

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Black Veil Brides' Andy Biersack

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Black Veil Brides' Ashley Purdy

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Black Veil Brides' Andy Biersack

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Black Veil Brides' Andy Biersack

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Black Veil Brides

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Black Veil Brides' Ashley Purdy

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Anti-Flag's Justin Sane

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Asking Alexandria's Sam Bettley

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Attila

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Asking Alexandria's Denis Stoff

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August Burns Red

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Asking Alexandria

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Boy Jumps Ship

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Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!

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Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!

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Creeper

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Frank Carter

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Frank Carter

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Heck

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Heck

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Warped Tour UK at London’s Alexandra Palace. Photos by Sandra Sorensen