If you're going to this year's Vans Warped Tour, leave the mohawk and studded leather jacket at home.
Yes, this year's tour, which stops in St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park on Friday, has plenty of thrashy metal and punk bands on the bill, but you're also just as likely to spot a DJ, rapper, folkie or pop singer — remember, it wasn't so long ago that Katy Perry did a summer on Warped.
With more than 90 artists on nine stages, it can be tough to know who are the must-sees — especially since performance times for each date aren't announced until that morning. But whether you like your Warped old-school or new-school, we've got a few picks you won't want to miss.
Love it loud?
The Used is one of the few emo-metal groups that even Top 40 fans can name, thanks to crossover hits like All That I've Got and Blue and Yellow (it also didn't hurt that lead singer Bert McCracken used to date Kelly Osbourne). Ska veterans Reel Big Fish (Sell Out) have been playing Warped Tours since the mid '90s. Minnesota's Motion City Soundtrack is on its eighth Warped Tour and still one of the top pop-punk bands on the scene, whipping around infectious hooks on songs like Everything Is Alright and True Romance.
The fiery Chiodos were Warped favorites years ago, before splitting with heartthrob singer Craig Owens. But Owens and the band reunited last year, and this trek is the first chance many fans will have to see their old magic. English metalcore outfit Bring Me the Horizon is both adored and critically respected worldwide for complex technical precision and wild live sets. One of this year's breakout metal acts is Orlando-bred, Michigan-based Sleeping With Sirens, whose new album Feel debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Top 200, thanks in no small part to Kellin Quinn's dynamic voice. And you may recognize Andy Biersack, the singer of popular glam-metal outfit Black Veil Brides as the boyfriend of Tampa Bay native Juliet Simms (see next page). They've been peppering a cover of Billy Idol's Rebel Yell into their sets, if you need an incentive to check 'em out.
Finally, don't miss Tampa Bay's own Set It Off, one of the biggest local bands to break nationally in the past few years. Since signing to Equal Vision Records, the emo-punk quintet has released an ambitious and musically adventurous debut album, Cinematics, and is spending this entire summer on Warped. An expanded reissue of Cinematics came out in June, proving they aren't planning on going away anytime soon.
Want to party?
Start with a pair of heinie-kickin' women: Juliet Simms and Gin Wigmore. Simms, who was raised in Clearwater, found national fame by finishing second on Season 2 of The Voice. She's a veteran of several Warped Tours — some with her band Automatic Loveletter — and her seasoned wail will be worth catching here. New Zealand's Wigmore plays rootsy blues with a high-octane rockabilly bent. She's already played the Tonight Show, and Slate said her single Black Sheep "sounds like a freight train coming straight at you."
Party pop is well represented, too. Wallpaper., the nom de pop of Californian Ricky Reed, produces unabashedly clubby dance singles that toe the line between satire and shameless fun, not unlike Ke$ha or Kreayshawn. Outasight actually scored decent radio airplay with his 2011 single Tonight Is The Night; he performed at Tampa's 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball in 2011. Boston boy-girl duo Young London brings rave-ready electro jams like Let Me Go and Infinite Love. Virginia's RDGLDGRN fuse rock, hip-hop and funk that's so catchy it caught the ears of Dave Grohl and Pharrell Williams, who both contributed to their Red Gold Green EP.
Love EDM and rap?
DJ Crizzly, who played Tampa's Sunset Music Festival in May, will drop an array of deep, skeleton-rattling dubstep and hip-hop jams. Nashville's Five Knives are about as far from country as you can get, delivering dark electro-pop in the vein of former tourmates Die Antwoord. And for all the dark makeup and deathly references at Warped, nerdcore rapper MC Lars may be the only artist there who's actually recorded an album in tribute to Edgar Allan Poe. Flow Like Poe should be required downloading for poetry teachers.