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Once-green bands become mentors, veterans on evolving Warped Tour

By Courtney Devores
Correspondent
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- KATIE HOVLAND
Yellowcard, from left: Ryan Key, Josh Portman, Sean Mackin, and Ryan Mendez. When the band first joined the Vans Warped Tour in 2002, they were the new kids.

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When Bayside and Yellowcard jumped on the Vans Warped Tour for the first time in 2002, they were the new kids.

“That particular year was crazy. NOFX and Bad Religion were on the tour. Then you had the hottest bands at the time – New Found Glory and Good Charlotte, who were all over MTV, and My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy on the side stage. I was in shock the whole time,” remembers Bayside frontman Anthony Raneri, who also plays a solo acoustic set each day.

“For us it was a dream come true,” says Sean Mackin, Yellowcard’s resident original member. “Our goal as a band was to be on Vans Warped Tour.”

Twelve years later, Warped Tour has broadened its original template, and bands such as Bayside and Yellowcard are the veterans, still flying the punk rock flag among a roster heavy with electronica, pop, metalcore and dance-rock.

Warped Tour pulls into PNC Music Pavilion Monday. The eclectic roster includes holdovers from its early years, such as Less Than Jake and Saves the Day; well-known groups, such as Every Time I Die, Breathe Carolina, the Devil Wears Prada and Parkway Drive; and eclectic rising acts Lionize, Air Dubai, Mixtapes, and the Ghost Inside.

“The younger audience that attends Warped Tour has a wider listening palate than (crowds) had before – electronic music, heavy music, pop rock music. It’s pretty awesome to see so many people like so many different styles,” says Mackin, whose band will be backed by drummer Nate Young. Young appears on Yellowcard’s next album and does double duty on tour with his band, Anberlin.

The change in style can come as a surprise to older fans of the original tour.

“It was punk, ska, hardcore, maybe a little metal and always a little rap,” says Raneri. “Even though there were six genres, we don’t consider that diverse, because we were kids and we listened to everything. Now we’re older and we don’t get it. I’ve come to terms with that. I understand there’s kids that like Bayside who (also) like Of Mice and Men, Real Friends, and Issues.

“I understand it, I just don’t get it. It’s always been diverse. I just always got it. It’s just like what I see kids wearing today.”

There have certainly been upgrades from vans to buses and the added benefit of having an actual crew. But some things never change. Bands, no matter what level they’re on, still don’t know what time they’re playing until the daily schedule is posted each day at 9 a.m.

“If I could change one thing, I’d wait in line for lunch all day long if I knew what our set time was going to be,” says Raneri, who wakes at least a few hours before singing.

Echoes Mackin: “If you pour one on the night before and have an 11:30 showtime, you’re going to have a hard time.”

Courtney’s blog: cltsoundbites.blogspot.com
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