The fact that America has the Warped Tour every summer might seem unfair (and it is), but what it does mean that on the odd occasion it does make it to the UK you know you are in for something special.
The 2012 Warped Tour saw a host of bands, and some extreme sports stars, take over the iconic Alexandra Palace in north London – and the building scarcely lived to tell the tale.
For hours before the doors were even opened, a motley crew of punk rockers, metal heads, trendies and outcasts flocked around the venue like strung out rock ‘n’ roll junkies – which obviously NONE were…- waiting for their fix.
After navigating a queue which would put any Apple store to shame, the crowd were greeted by an elaborate entrance hall quite out of tone with the ‘hardcore’ happenings within (and, unfortunately, a bit of a bottle-necked navigation nightmare).
Entering the West Hall is the first moment the event really begins to fit like a glove. A huge vert ramp for skateboarding and BMXing stands proudly next to the bright orange Jagermeister Stage, home to bands who weren’t necessarily smaller names, but took things a little less seriously.
Through the grand doors at the far end is the main hall. Filled with two stages, East and West, joined at the hip like Siamese twins, the set up proved to be a stunningly simple way to pack more music into an already tightly-packed afternoon.
The first band to catch this reviewers attention were It Boys, whose enthusiastic pop/punk stylings included an impromptu rendition of internet sensation Gangnam Style. The spirit of fun continued throughout the day and the likes of Family Force 5, Breathe Carolina and 3OH!3 all successfully getting the crowd into gear. 3OH!3 pushed the envelope the most, showing off the range in their musical repertoire without alienating fans of any one song.
Music policy for the day largely held together, with a few jarring juxtapositions between heavy bands like Architects and pop/punk legends New Found Glory, though this did give time to scope out the hustle and bustle of the merch market.
NFG themselves were well below form. The band tried hard but leading man Jordan seemed strained throughout the set, far from the stellar performances of even just a few years ago.
Luckily the rest of the big names were unanimously true to form, with Funeral For a Friend swelling the Jager crowd to almost bone-crushing proportions before making way for the ska punk Warped Tour Veterans from Gainesville, Florida: Less Than Jake.
As the years have passed LTJ have lost none of their fun and enthusiasm, and the crowd were instantly behind them. From there the punk-tastic vibe was carried on by Bowling for Soup who stuck to the formula (some old, some new) but kept the crowd entertained throughout.
On the main stage the scale was a lot more stadium rock than intimate pub gig as Lostprophets kicked off the final act of the night with ‘The New Transmission’. Vocalist Ian Watkins seemed increasingly frustrated with the crowd (perhaps overly familiar with a ‘prophets only crowd after a UK tour?), calling them out to shout, scream and sing louder after almost every song, but still the hits kept coming.
In all this year’s Warped Tour, the first in the UK since 1999, was an undoubted success. A sold out crowd packed into a venue which, while it may not have been the number one choice in practicalities (people traffic at times was unbearable and rooms had to be closed off to avoid over-occupancy), it definitely had character – something which has always been the driving force of the tour itself.
Fingers crossed it will find its way back to Blighty next year.
James Michael Parry