Warped Tour @ Susquehanna Bank Center

CAMDEN, NJ—Without Warped Tour, I probably would never venture outside during the summer, let alone stay out in the heat for more than an hour. Thankfully, the crowd that gathered at the Camden stop of this year’s Warped was a good one and all the bands were on point, making the hours of sun exposure worth it. Also, I must mention the one plus of the Susquehanna Bank Center is the air-conditioned concession area.

The balance of Warped standards, rising bands and pop-rock darlings were perfectly measured, with only the slightest dash of variety to feed that inner techno dance freak hiding inside all of us. Some of the bigger names this year, like The Bouncing Souls, Every Time I Die and All-American Rejects that graced the main stage unfortunately, did not fall into my band viewing schedule. Like most years, I am a slave to the smaller stages, which allow for musicians and fans to get up close and personal.

I did make it over to the main stage to catch Motion City Soundtrack and We The Kings, the latter being one band who I’m sure the female fans wish were closer in range. It was all about crowd pleaser tunes that even I recognized. Both bands had new albums come out this past winter. Plus, it was hard not to enjoy yourself with their summer-friendly pop rock.

Also on the pop rock vibe, were VersaEmerge, Artist Vs Poet and The Summer Set. I couldn’t help but stop and watch their sets and feel quite old. While the girls in the crowd went crazy for the all the male band members, I gave a nod towards The Summer Set’s female drummer Jess Bowen and the strong performance from singer Sierra Kusterbeck of VersaEmerge. Even so, I felt compelled to join in on the swooning for the upbeat love songs coming from Artist Vs Poet.

The West Coast dates always enjoy the Legends Stage, which often surprises the average Warped attendee with actual, real punk rock. Here on the east coast, there are quite a few bands that carry on the punk rock tradition, you just have to look for them. Again, I missed The Bouncing Souls, but my soul was refreshed with a standout set from the Riverboat Gamblers.

With a friendly circle pit in front, full of kids with mohawks and plaid, singer Mike Wiebe climbing all over the speakers. It wasn’t long before he was being carried around by fans while singing a song. As the last song finished, it was a quick walk across the way to catch The Casualties. Celebrating their twenty year anniversary singer Jorge Herrera guzzled entire beers throughout the set. They played the always enjoyable cover of The Ramones’ classic, “Blitzkrieg Bop” and finished up with “Unknown Solidier.”

Trying their darndest to be ‘punk rock’ was Sum 41, who lost my interest when they started inviting fans on stage between songs. I was surprised to see such a large crowd gathered and I got a bit nostalgic when “In Too Deep” played.

Four Year Strong, who fell victim to technical difficulties when, with about three songs to go, some of their equipment stopped working, which apparently is a fairly common occurrence for them when in the Philadelphia area. They did manage to get out one last song “Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die,” which fans got to choose.

In Fear and Faith took me by surprise, with a set that was light years better than what I remember from seeing them this time a year ago. Their singer, Scott Barnes had an ankle injury and needed to sit for the entire set. This allowed singer/screamer, Cody Anderson to really shine.

Completely changing gears, would be the performance of Mike Posner. With techno-pop dance beats and his current hit single “Cooler Than Me,” which he saved till the end, the audience was in full swing. He had an ever present smile that reminded us he was having just as much fun as his adoring fans.

Emarosa, my personal favorite, took the stage in the middle of the day. They started off with an older song “Set It Off Like Napalm” in their set before leading the fans into new territory. Especially, with singer Jonny Craig’s explosive vocals, it was hard to contain them on the smaller Ernie Ball stage. Plus, security had their hands full with kids crowd surfing and fans rushing the stage screaming ‘I love you’ to Craig. Seems crazy, but happy fans were everywhere.