If you've seen No Room for Rock Stars, a recently-released documentary on the Warped Tour, it might be hard to imagine someone like Evan Weiss fitting in. Weiss, the mastermind behind Into It. Over It, isn't a tatted-up singer in a metalcore band who's missing his daughter back home. He isn't driving around to every date of the tour in hopes of playing someday. And he doesn't play fey acoustic tunes to giddy females holding up their smartphones.
Instead, Weiss plays music for those who care about music beyond what Hot Topic panders to. Performing as Into It. Over It, he draws influences from post-hardcore/emo legends like Sunny Day Real Estate and The Get Up Kids, yet eschews an attempt to capture teenage girls' hearts and babysitting money. He isn't the only one who's taken this route in the past few years.
"The part of the scene that I'm involved in was just a giant revival of people that wanted to make honest music again," Weiss says via phone, a few hours before soundcheck. "I think we were fans of that stuff already. I've been playing in bands since I was 15 years old and I've always been writing the same music. My old band, The Progress, sounded almost exactly like Into It. Over It, except you had two singers. Now it's just me. I think it was a lot of people getting tired of seeing bands that weren't authentic bands playing songs that really mattered to them. They were tired of being sold a product and just wanted to see a band get up there and be a band. You can only be fed bullshit for so long before you lose patience."
The 27-year-old Chicago native has been on tour nonstop for the past 11 months, promoting last year's Proper. This is his first Warped Tour, and he's looking forward to the three weeks, though it certainly helps that his last date is in Chicago. He had been to the show only once as a teenager, when he and some friends scored free tickets. He saw a good mix of bands, like Anti-Flag, Blink-182 and The Dillinger Escape Plan, yet when he worked as a vendor a few years later, he had a much different memory.
"Working Warped Tour and attending Warped Tour are two totally different things," he says. "Being a vendor is just brutal. You know, you're out in the sun all day long and you're dealing with kids who can be - not always - ignorant or entitled. It can be a long and draining process."
Weiss is pretty excited about the tour's lineup this year, mixing punk, metal, hip-hop, screamo, emo and synth-rock. Then there's the Acoustic Basement stage, a new addition this year, under a tent and away from the blaring music. "Predominantly, the people who come to see me play are 25-year-old bearded dudes with glasses who are going through the same problems I'm going through," Weiss says with a laugh.
Even though he plays electric guitar and bass on Proper, Weiss has always done solo acoustic tours. Earlier this year, he even went on a tour with fellow Acoustic Basement act Anthony Raneri from Bayside.
"I haven't done anything but be myself for the past two years of being a touring musician," he says. "I don't really know any other way to be. I couldn't fake it. I can only be me."
Click through for Warped Tour recommendations.
Taking Back Sunday Between nine stages this year, there are almost 80 different acts scheduled to play sets. There will be some familiar faces, like Anti-Flag, New Found Glory and Senses Fail, but fellow elder statesmen Taking Back Sunday are certainly the one not to miss. Still promoting last year's excellent self-titled record, their set will definitely deliver, whether it's in the middle of the day or at sunset. Frontman Adam Lazzara will swing his microphone and prance around the stage, but he's no fake. Good thing the band's lineup is still intact, if you know anything about the band's very public and strained history.
Bayside Look beyond the Smoking Popes comparisons and see this four-piece as pop-punk with a few black eyes and broken hearts. Frontman Anthony Raneri will also do an acoustic set in the Acoustic Basement stage. That will be worth seeing as well.
Every Time I Die The band was a must-see the last time they played Warped, and they'll be one this year too. Touring off of this year's Ex-Lives, the New York-based act balances hardcore, rock and roll and humor, and it doesn't feel like a novelty.
Iwrestledabearonce From a glance, Iwrestledabearonce sounds like a pure sideshow: a female-fronted band that can sound like Dillinger Escape Plan one minute and then Bjork the next? Well, the band has a large range of styles, but there is a sincere consistency in their sound and design.
Polar Bear Club PBC will have a lot of sonic brethren on this tour, drawing from hardcore, gritty emo-punk and pop-punk. But these guys do it in a way that will make you pump your fists and think, which can be rare with this kind of music.
The Vans Warped Tour hits Gexa Energy Pavilion on Tuesday, July 3.