Now at this point in the WT journey, my professional-self was turning off for a bit and my personal interests started to take control of where I wanted to go next. Although journalism isn’t the most financially rewarding industry these days, it does come equipped with a ton of perks. It was nearly 4 p.m. and the one band that really caught my attention that I was going to see no matter who asked to do an interview – my sincere apologies to “Shut Up & Deal” – was “Black Veil Brides”.

The benefits of having a press pass is that Warped Tour allows one to go right up to the front of the stage for the band’s first three tunes. Since we’ve been trying to knock out all the interviews, it was time to see more bands strut their stuff. But of course, saying no becomes a chore when you see an up-n-coming band working hard to get their name out. Again, sorry “Shut Up & Deal”.

However, saying no twice in the same ten minute window, is not in my DNA. So I took a few minutes to do a red-carpet type talk (as in brief) with Will Kubley of “Passafire”. Even though we only engaged in two questions, Will made the most of his time and gave one of the more thorough answers I received all day, as we explored what it means for a band to evolve their sound…

“It’s totally important to evolve, because all my favorite bands have done that. Even if you are alienating some fans, that’s okay, because they can just stay on that album for their rest of their life (laughing). And if the band is going in another direction, we have to keep it original for the fans but also for us, to explore new things so we don’t get bored playing music with each other. Luckily, we have fans that are very accepting of that. We combine a lot of different styles already, so I feel like our fans expect us to evolve.”

Will and I shook hands; he was very cool about understanding the limited time I had; and I proceeded to power-walk like an Olympian while Steph pondered why I just started acting like a virgin who has an appointment with a hooker. It was time to catch Black Veil Brides to see if they could live up to my expectations and predictions.

As we maneuvered through the plethora of merchandise stands, band signing tents, and what one of us called a pedophile’s euphoria – we chilled at the front of the Advent Stage in the photographers pit awaiting BVB to rock/metal this place up.

This is where I also began yapping with the security guys, who spend the majority of their time catching 100lbs crowd surfers; which is no easy task on a 90 degree day in Florida. Hell, we were sweating just standing. The corralling of crowd surfers is an art-form people. All the hired stage security deserve a standing ovation as they efficiently and safely did their jobs better than anyone I’ve seen in that type of environment in some time.

Also began talking to the fans pressed right up against the security gate about six feet from the stage. Surprisingly, a few of them could drive and the excitement was glistening in there eyes for every forthcoming band.

For roughly the next 90 minutes, Steph photographed a few acts we stopped to see. There For Tomorrow unleashes an energy that had their surrounding crowd jumping up-n-down during their entire 30 minute set. Black Veil Brides riled up their sizable followers at the Advent Stage with their theatrics and powerful, melodic sound. Five other bands were playing at the same time, yet one would never know, thanks to the strategic set-up where no band’s sound interfered with another’s.

Then it was time to trek all the way across the grounds back to the backstage/tour bus parking lot for an interview with Electric Touch. And keep in mind; we still haven’t had a beer yet. Who would have thought our professionalism would have held out this long at a rock show? Like many have stated though, Warped Tour is a job and staying coherent – for a bit – is a necessity. And that applied to us, too. But that tone started to change as the sun started to set.

Electric Touch is well aware that their music is a far cry from what is typically found on this tour. Shane and Christopher elaborated a bit on how they came aboard this journey and how it’s important to get out in front of any audience that will have you…

“Well, we would have been booed off the stage in 1998 (laughing), but I’ll take anyone on…

(And the interview pauses because Christopher thinks he sees a tornado forming on the water, yet Shane doesn’t miss a beat) anyone apart from a tornado.

I’ll play anywhere, up against anyone in the world, because you have to go up against the best. And you need to be put in funny situations to kind of prove it to yourself that you got what it takes. We supported Bon Jovi in front of 10,000 screaming housewives; we played in front of five people in a city before; as long as we get the opportunity, I’ll take anyone on. I’ll put us pound-for-pound with anybody.”

The talked shifted to the dynamics of being in a band (have to work that in somewhere) and the well-spoken, introspective guys provided advice on how their songs come together along with keeping the band focused…

“Sometimes you might have some words, or a theme, a melody and that’s where it all kind of begins really. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, it’s just whatever’s clever,” says Shane.

And on keeping the band progressing…Christopher added this…

“You have to adjust to people’s personalities. People have bad days and people need the extra motivation sometimes, but you need to have a focus goal or a vision, and once everyone is on the same page, it’s going to happen…

Or just start smashing their equipment.”

Electric Touch were classy dudes – and Steph guided them to the one of the best photos of the day (seriously, that’s a promo worthy) in our collection.

Now it was time to eat and drink, and this is where the Warped Tour had a few issues. Once again, certain vendors ran out of food (had a real craving for chicken tenders). All that was left was a “ham-dog.” (Chopped up hot dog in a hamburger bun). And the beer prices were as expensive as going to a sporting event. And who the hell decided to have Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap? White-trash won’t even touch that stuff!

Besides that hiccup, and the loose nature of the press set-up; which fit’s the theme of everyone has to work on this tour – including the press – the Warped Tour had a decent flow working. Just to entertain ourselves, we – well, I – joined in a running mosh-pit during Miss May I in which I may have accidentally knocked a couple kids down that were half my age (still got it).

Finally, it was time to conduct the last talk of the day with The Venetia Fair. Told these guys straight up that recalling their music is tough since there were 65 bands yours truly had to familiarize myself with. After taking a listen to the audio file, this ended up being the longest and most entertaining chats of the day. Simply because the night time air had bands in the back unwinding & drinking a few beers as most of the line-up had already performed.

Take a listen (click on the band name below) to this playful, borderline R-rated chat with Mike, Mr. Chark and Benny. These guys are true rookies on this tour and this discussion showcases the band’s focused-side along with the typical shenanigans that happen while touring. Keep in mind; the beers were flowing at this point and the sun was pounding on us for seven hours at this stage of the game. And it was funny to see Benny acting as the more-or-less calm one since the dude is a bottle-rocket on stage.

TheVenetiaFair

So we’re down to one more band – arguably the biggest draw that day depending on who you ask – A Day To Remember. Making camp on the Teggart stage, about 75% of the crowd clustered around and when the band came on, it was madness on this portion of the soiled grounds. Although we were in the photographer’s pit right up against the stage, the 6-foot buffer zone between us and the crowd was negligible. The crowd-surfing intensified as the band with killer stage-presence, had this young mob amped up. And this is where we checked out.

Bottom line: you really can’t go wrong with any stage on the Warped Tour. Every band “brings it” and the crowd feels it. If you don’t have a vested interest in anyone in particular (my apologies one more time to Shut Up & Deal) know that you will get plenty of bang for your bones.

Be sure to check graphic article “Warped Images” encompassing more shots from the 2011 Warped Tour at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, Florida.

By Joe Belcastro

Photos courtesy of Stephanie Byrne

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By Joe Belcastro

Joe Belcastro is an established movie critic in Tampa, Florida. As a member of the Florida Film Critics Circle, most of his time is spent reviewing upcoming movies. He also covers news pertaining to the film industry, on both a local and national level as well as conducting interviews. To contact Joe Belcastro regarding a story or with general questions about his services, please e-mail him and/or follow him on Twiiter @TheWritingDemon.

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