The Vans Warped Tour is typically an exercise in excesses: Over the course of nine hours, several dozen bands perform on 10 stages, most of them in excessive heat in parking lot void of shade.
That was the case for this year’s tour, which rolled into the Cricket Wireless Amphitheater in Bonner Springs on Thursday. Nearly 100 bands were on the bill, plus a handful of comedians. Amid the barrage of performances in temperatures that cracked 90 degrees, several bands stood out, including the Beautiful Bodies, the only Kansas City act on the bill.
The Bodies, who have been booked for the entire Warped Tour, performed on the amphitheater’s main stage about 15 minutes past noon. Their high-energy 30-minute set showcased songs from “Battles,” the album they released on Epitaph Records in June. The music is an instanty engaging mix of pop, rock and punk: lots of swift tempos, catchy melodies, sweet harmonies, sing-along choruses and raucous percussion.
They are a kinetic band. Lead singer Alicia Solombrino is in constant motion and she knows how to muster the charm between songs. Thomas Becker, one of two guitarists, is a daredevil. He ended the set hanging upside down by his knees on the scafffolding , banging a drum with a drum stick. That was after he’d crowd surfed and climbed a few stories to perch on a steel fixture aside the stage.
By the time their set ended, a crowd of nearly 1,000 had gathered and a lot of them were familiar with the music. Many sang-along to songs like “Invincible,” “Good Luck, Good Night,” “Capture and Release.” Their 30 minutes went by fast, but they made it memorable.
Other notable performances:
Silverstein: The veteran Warped Tour band from Ontario, Canada, played the Monster Stage out in the parking lot in the early afternoon. A few members of the five-piece band look like extras in the TV show “Portlandia,” but the drummer gets extra credit for wearing a Jesus and Mary Chain “Psychocandy” T-shirt. Their set of hardcore pop-punk tunes included “Sacrifice,” “Smile In Your Sleep” and “Milestone.”
Jule Vera: They’re from Auburn, Ala., led by singer AnsleyNewman. She was backed by a quartet of guys, all with hair to match Harry Styles from One Direction. Their sound mixes pop with Evanescence-style heavy rock. Their set at the Hard Rock stage only drew a few dozen fans, but they delivered it with plenty of energy. The set list included radio-ready tunes like “Friendly Enemies” and “Light the Night.”
Senses Fail: They’re another veteran Warped band that indulges in a mix of punk and thrashy hardcore. Lead singer Buddy Nielsen, the only remaining founding member of the band, can sing like a pop star or grow-scream like a deranged Cookie Monster. Their set included “Can’t Be Saved” and “Take Refuge.” He gave a shout-out to three Kansas City/Lawrence bands: the Casket Lottery, the Appleseed Cast and the Get Up Kids.
This Wild Life: The first hard curveball of the day was pitched by this acoustic duo from Long Beach, Calif. Their music is unrepentant folk, a mix of Crosby-Nash and Jack Johnson. Their set list included a song called “Puppy Love,” dedicated to the singer’s dog. Theirs was the only set I saw that included a burst of confetti.
Spiders: Though everyone was dressed appropriately in white, this anthemic rock band from Sweden was feeling the mid-afternoon heat on one of the two amphitheater stages. Fans of U2 might find something to like about its music, which also as a little Coldplay in its hide. Theirs was the only set I saw that included two guys banging floor toms.
Beartooth: If there is a definitive Warped Tour sound, this Columbus, Ohio, band delivers it with gusto. It’s the sound of a pop song being dragged through a hardcore slaughter house: melodic but bludgeoned and in flames. Titles like “Beaten In Lips” imply what they sound like.
Pierce the Veil: More raging hooks and harmonies from a post-hardcore band from San Diego. Their set at the Unicorn Stage drew a big crowd of several hundred. It included “Yeah Boy and Doll Face,” a track from their debut album.
Kaya Stewart: She’s the teenage daughter of Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, and her music is a mix of Brit-pop and soul. To a modest crowd of several dozen, she sang tracks from her upcoming album, including “In Love With a Boy” and “Jonah.” Fans of Adele might be interested in Stewart’s music.