Typical Warped Tour -- from music to mosh pit -- and the fans love it

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Black Chuck Taylors, tattoos, piercings and body odor, were the sights and smells on display as the 2014 Van’s Warped Tour invaded First Niagara Pavilion on Tuesday.

It was the typical Warped Tour scene — circle pits, moshing, singing, fist-pumping and people rushing to a band’s merchandise tables in an effort to snag an autograph and picture.

Warped Tour used to serve as the steppingstone for punk rock bands trying to find superstardom. It’s accommodated the likes of Blink-182, NOFX and Bad Religion, all of whom have gone on to make their names well known.

Now, however, you can go to Warped and hear pop, rap, reggae, and even dub-step DJ’s. The essence of punk rock is somewhat lost in the barrage of other genres, but it’s not completely abandoned.

Michael Henninger/Post-Gazette

Lead singer Ryan Key performs with Yellowcard at the Vans Warped Tour at First Niagara Pavilion Tuesday.

Warped still has bands that bust out rough power chords, including Yellowcard who brought their unique songs, equipped with a rocking violinist, to one of the many stages to get the afternoon crowd fired up. Their set wrapped up with the always-popular “Ocean Avenue,” that had the entire crowd smiling and belting the lyrics right back at them.

Bowling For Soup mimicked them. The Texas native band, who nearly closed the daylong event with a 7 p.m. slot, played many familiar tunes such as “Punk Rock 101,” “Almost,” and a cover of Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom.” They also threw in witty, raunchy banter in the middle of songs and had the crowd serenade their tour manager, with a rendition of “Happy Birthday.” They, too, saved the best for last as their version of “1985” saw one of the largest crowd-surfing waves of the day.

Less Than Jake, a band’s that’s been more on than off the Warped lineup since 1997, played to a mixed audience of teens and adults. Less Than Jake has been around since the early ’90’s. To verify that, frontman Chris Demakes claimed that their song “The Science of Selling Yourself Short,” was Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong’s wedding song. Both the members of Less Than Jake and Green Day are in their early 40s.

Michael Henninger/Post-Gazette

Chris Conley, lead singer of Saves the Day, performs with the band at the Vans Warped Tour at First Niagara Pavilion Tuesday.

Even though the “old men,” got the crowd dancing with their ska-punk sound, the majority of the attendees at Warped Tour were there for the younger, pop-punk and screamo bands that have dominated the tour in recent years.

Bands like Mayday Parade, We The Kings, The Story So Far, Of Mice And Men, and Falling in Reverse garnered the attention of just about every adolescent wearing their favorite band’s T-shirt. Warped Tour will always have the punk-rock-feel, but it’s elevated since the 90’s and the landscape of the Tour has been tweaked. Despite the genre modifications, Warped Tour will always be a place for punks.

Ryan Petrovich: rpetrovich@post-gazette.com Twitter:@RyanPetrovich First Published July 16, 2014 12:00 AM

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