On Friday July 17th, fans gathered at the Molson Canadian Amphitheater in Toronto, Ontario for the only Canadian date of Vans Warped Tour 2015. Since it stopped being held in Montreal, a few friends and I decided to venture out to Toronto to compare it. I half expected it to consist of crazy, screaming teenage fangirls, but instead I actually had a great experience.
The weather may have been gloomy and depressing with rain and thunderstorms, but that didn’t stop us, or the mile long line of people waiting to enter the venue. People were wearing ponchos and rain coats, and some even had umbrellas. The rain continued throughout the day, but it wasn’t the kind of rain that shuts down a show; it was the kind that it enabled us to stay cool all day, making an outdoor show even more enjoyable because it wasn’t disgustingly hot or humid. Upon checking in for my photo pass, I donated money to Musicares, an association that helps musicians in critical times of need. Another organization, Feed Our Children Now!, was collecting canned foods and old cell phones, which allowed access to the express entry line into the venue in exchange for a donation.
While waiting for my friends to get past the long line, I decided to scope out the area and check the schedule, only to realize I needed to buy a map and schedule because the area was so huge and confusing. There were two main stages for the main bands (the Shark and Unicorn stage); two Journeys stages; the Ernie Ball stage; the Beatport stage for the hip hop, dance, and electro bands; the Monster Energy stage; and the Hard Rock Kevin Says stage.
Fronted by Lynn Gunn, PVRIS was playing the main stage upon arrival; being a huge fan, I stayed there to catch their set. The band killed it, and Lynn was a total badass. I also managed to catch August Burns Red, parts of Memphis May Fire, Miss May I, Juliet Simms, Riff Raff, and Fit For A King, along with some other bands I didn’t know.
I would have liked to see Hands Like Houses, and a band from Laval, QC called Amasic but unfortunately they were on at the same time as Pierce the Veil, headlining the tour from San Diego, California. Being one of my favorite bands, I obviously went to their set, but we weren’t allowed to go in the photo pit right away because they were launching confetti from cannons during their first song, which is also their new single, “The Divine Zero.” They played an amazing set, the crowd was intense, and their energy was as awesome as I had expected. They had to stop playing halfway through one of their first few songs because people were getting hurt in the pits at the front, and they wanted to remind everyone to help others out and to be careful, which I totally respect. Crowd favorite songs were played such as “Hell Above,” “Besitos,” “Yeah Boy and Doll Face,” and others. Despite the fact that their guitarist Tony Perry wasn’t playing due to severe injuries, his replacement Mike Herrera put on an equally as good performance. (I also may or may not have fangirled a little while watching them perform.)
I passed by the Beatport stage, which featured acts such as MC Lars, Splitbreed, Koo Koo Kanga Roo, Kosha Dillz, and much more. Every time I went by, or stopped for a few minutes, it was like a non-stop dance party. The music was much different than the other stages, but it added more variety and was interesting to see. Everyone seemed really into the music, and they were definitely enjoying themselves. Its good to see festivals bringing people together like this.
As I continued walking around, I ended up finding a bouncy castle/slip’n’slide that people were lining up for, and I assume the rain made it that much better, because who needs to change into a bathing suit if its already raining? It was later converted into a small skate park, which in all honesty makes more sense because, well…it’s the VANS warped tour.
The only downsides to the show, were the prices for beer and food. I think I paid $5 for a regular sized hot dog, and beer was apparently $10-$15. There was a Pizza Pizza stand, but the line for it was too massive and I didn’t have enough time to spare. Also, the bathrooms were kind of gross, like nobody bothered to clean them at any point. Lastly, I could not for the life of me find the press tent/area. I asked a few security guards and they didn’t know what I was even talking about. So I tried asking other people with press bracelets, and they didn’t know either.
One band I had really wanted to see, Slaves, fronted by Jonny Craig, was supposed to be on the schedule, but when I realized they weren’t, I got confused and later found out they were voted off from the tour due to accusations against one of their band members, upsetting their fans. The band denies all of the accusations, however. It was disappointing that I didn’t get to see them, but that’s life I guess.
Another band I had wanted to see, Palisades, was supposed to be playing on the Journeys stage according to the paper schedule I was carrying around, but when I went to said stage at the time that was mentioned, I found myself watching Set It Off instead; it didn’t bother me, but I was curious as to what happened to Palisades. After Set It Off played I saw Riff Raff, another band that seemed like they belonged more on the Beatport stage; I don’t think they were even on the schedule. When I was trying to find my way out of the venue, I heard Palisades playing on the Hard Rock Kevin Says stage instead. There was a lot of stage confusion at this time, making it hard to see the bands that I had wanted to see.
So all in all, despite discrepancies in the schedule and stages, massive lineups, and expensive concession stands, Warped Tour actually turned out to be more fun than I had expected. I thought I would feel out of place, being older than in previous years I attended, but I guess you just have to go with right people who will share their enjoyment with you. Warped Tour is the place to go for people who want to give back to the world and to help charities, because there are so many opportunities. It’s also the right place to discover new music and to expand your musical interests into a larger variety. So if decent bands are playing next year, I’m definitely going back.
Written and Photographed by Shannon Fong SLF Photography
*edited by Kate Erickson