In the sweltering summer sun yesterday, punk and metal fans both young and old headed to Gexa Energy Pavilion to catch the annual mass of humanity known as the Vans Warped Tour.
Out of the bands that this reporter got to witness at the kickoff to this year's summer tour, there were some good ones and some bad ones, bands leaving good impressions and some that totally blew.
Not surprisingly, it was the lesser known acts that held the day.
In that vein, let's his the jump to count down the five best, and the five worst bands, on this year's bill.
5. Good Guys in Black
This rather motley four-piece out of Los Angeles does the rock and rap thing without much of a clue. Yet, somehow, the blustery charm pays off as Rick Thorne leads this unattractive lot with all sorts of off-kilter rhymes that are ragged but right.
4. Shut Up and Deal
This five-piece from Connecticut rocked the small Kia Kevin Says Stage from start to finish. Playing loud pop-punk with as little pretense as possible (especially for this tour), Joe Heafy and crew displayed smarts and stage presence to spare. Best song of the set? "Dangerous," a cut that recalled the Goo Goo Dolls before they became a lame factory for power ballads.
3. Big Chocolate
A rather rotund white guy who calls himself Big Chocolate? When you play dubstep this proficiently, you can call yourself any damn thing you want.
2. Bad Rabbits
Funk and soul at Warped? Yes, it can be done. This talented five-piece from Boston proves it. Fronted by the charismatic and gifted Dua Boakye, these Rabbits garnered the attention of many who wandered by the Skullcandy Stage. Many stayed and were grateful that they did.
Hailing from England, Sharks was easily the best band of the day. The foursome played in the late afternoon sun as if they were headlining. Playing old-school punk a la The Clash and The Damned, these guys are the real deal. Sharks' most recent effort is a compilation called The Joys of Living 2008-2010. Buy it.
5. Cold Forty Three
This punkish trio from Los Angeles was as obnoxious as the fumes coming from the parking lot. Lead Singer Carter Cruz thought he was being funny when he bemoaned the heat. "I'm about to pass out," said Cruz. "I need CPR on my dick." Ugh. The sound of crickets ensued and the handful of people collected at the stage decided to move on. Smart move.
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4. There for Tomorrow
This Orlando band is way too pretty. Besides, why do pop acts like masquerading as metal bands? Lots of hooks, but little real emotion to be found in these parts.
3. A Skylit Drive
This screamo six-piece from California drew a big crowd, but for all the shouting and pointing, very little in this band's version of noise resonated beyond the standard eyeliner and emo bangs crowd.
2. Asking Alexandria
Take away a member and the same goes for these Brits. Stupid name as well.
1. The Devil Wears Prada
Another big crowd, another lame set of prefabricated emotionalism. I'd rather see the damn movie.