The final cross-country run of the Vans Warped Tour just kicked off in California this past weekend. It’s hard to believe my favorite summer camp is coming to an end after 24 years. Warped is where I saw Sum 41 and Yellowcard for the first time, and where my favorite band The Matches made a name for themselves in the alternative scene. I’ll always remember spending those days laying in the grass stuffing my face with french fries between sets, lining up at booths for signatures, and grabbing as many sampler CDs from different record labels as I could get to fit in my backpack. Saying goodbye on this last tour will be bittersweet.
Many Warped veterans such as The Used, Senses Fail, and Simple Plan are celebrating the final tour, and I’ll be honest and say I’m most excited to see 3OH!3 playing Want era songs a decade after the album’s release. But what Warped has always done best is introduce us to new bands we might have never heard of otherwise.
Here are five lesser known bands to check out, whether you’re hitting the festival or not.
Don Broco already has a huge following in their home country, the UK, and it’s only a matter of time before the States catch up. Straddling the lines of pop and post-hardcore, their sound is incredibly unique and impossible not to dance to. And their stage presence is phenomenal. Catch me swinging my t-shirt around my head when instructed to during “T-shirt Song.”
Sleep On It
Sleep On It is quintessential Warped: really, really good pop punk. I don’t care what anyone says, pop punk will never die. Their first full-length album Overexposed was released on Equal Vision Records last year, and it’s perfect from start to finish.
Hail the Sun
Hail the Sun can best be described as post-hardcore progressive rock, for fans of Circa Survive and Dance Gavin Dance. They aren’t afraid to push boundaries, delivering fast powerhouses as well as slower tracks. And if you’ve ever wanted to see a vocalist kill it on the drums, frontman Donovan Melero does just that.
The Interrupters are ska punk following in the footsteps of bands like Rancid and Operation Ivy (see: their cover of “Sound System”), but with one major difference: a female lead. There’s just something magical about watching a badass female like Aimee Interrupter command a stage. Their new album Fight the Good Fight drops on the 29th.
And on the topic of badass females, Doll Skin is an all-female rock band formed in 2013 when the girls won a battle of the bands contest at their high school in Scottsdale, AZ. I’m not sure how a high school competition managed to snag a judge like David Ellefson of Megadeth, but I guess it was lucky because now the world has Doll Skin and their blend of punk, metal, alternative, and pop.
Catch all these and so much more this summer.
Photo credit: Chris Simms, Don Broco