Festival Review: Vans Warped Tour - Birrarung Marr, Melbourne (07.12.13)

Well, the Vans Warped Tour rolled into Melbourne on Saturday, and it was about time. Hot weather was promised and delivered in many depths of sunburnt punters.

This was the return of the alternative festival for the first time in 11 years. Having attended the last one way back in 2002, I was keen to return and catch all the punk/heavy acts on the bill, as well as the skaters. I started off with the pop kids from Phoenix in The Summer Set; it seems they are on the rise everywhere in the world and easy to see, from the hoards of kids running to Stage 1 as soon as gates opened. Also I had the privilege of photographing the festival, so I spent my day watching almost two dozen acts, but for three songs only.

A lot of bands fell into similar sub genres so you could split the hardcore from the punk rock across the stages and the festival executed that really well. Every punter could easily switch from stage to stage. The searing heat aside, it's great to see such dedicated music fans watch all bands all day. No filler. Highlights for me varied from who was enjoyable to photograph and who was enjoyable to hear.

The Used put all their decade long career to good use in a stellar live show packed with energy, whilst the awesome Millencolin just took me back to Sutherland Youth Centre in 1999 or sometime close to that. The No Regrets Stage also threw down some kickass surprises in RDGLDGRN and Anarbor. My preferred destination though for the day, was Kevin Says Stage. Tonight Alive drew a huge early crowd and didn't disappoint, even bring members of the audience into the pit to 'high five' lead singer Jenna McDougall. Reel Big Fish were at their Ska best; I do like a good horn section in live form, always gets people dancing.

So with getting my good fix of punk/pop/rock, I ventured down to the skate ramp and sat at watched Steve Caballero and Dennis McCoy do their thing, and do it well.. True masters of their game and common names in each respected community it was such an awesome experience to sit ramp side and document the talent, in awe, and slightly frightened of getting hit with a skateboard or BMX. Of course, they didn't screw up and it's another reason that made the day all the better! Cheers to Warped for putting extreme sports and alternative music back together again…

I then caught back to back sets from Confession, We Came As Romans and Hatebreed. It was all hard and heavy and drove fans into whirlwind circle pits on a dusty ground, which caused a large dust storm to cover the surrounding areas.. No band felt flat or bored as such is the dedication they each possess to make sure all the people around had a great time.

Heading back to catch New Found Glory and Simple Plan through the maze of people; both acts put on energetic shows that put me on alert with my lens. They have their live show ready to go and never disappoint. I even managed to make a young fans day after she kindly asked me if I get a guitar pick from Simple Plan could she have it. Strangely enough I managed to get said pick and make this young fans day. Good deed done.

In turn, we have The Amity Affliction and Parkway Drive back to back. Both Australian bands are not only adored here, but the whole world. Shit just gets hectic as I briefly see young fans whipped high into the air through the dust that spins out of control. Just like that, I find myself waiting for The Offspring. Having seen them earlier this year at Soundwave, I didn't think a whole lot would have changed and like a sure thing, it hadn't. The show was rich in back catalogue, sing along tracks with a blazing light show. It was a good way to end a great day.

Melbourne definitely embraced the Vans Warped Tour, it would be nice to do it all again next year.