By Darryl Smyers / Contributing Writer
At 11 a.m., the line was already lengthy as several thousand young people made their way to the sweaty confines of Gexa Energy Pavilion to witness the annual Vans Warped Tour.
Dressed, for the most part, vastly inappropriately, the severely tattooed throng was ready for the heavy metal onslaught inherent in the tour's history. However, this year's lineup was one of the most diverse offerings to date and such variety lent the proceedings a more fan-friendly atmosphere.
Fans of genres other than the bleakest of metal were treated to some excellent rock, rap, ska and soul. In years past, the Warped Tour has blended in other genres than metal, but this year's lineup felt wholly integrated.
Quality acts were featured from the beginning of the day. Early sets by The Maine, The Story so Far, The Interrupters and Teenage Bottlerocket were energetic and well-attended. The Maine's "Everything I Asked For" was picture-perfect pop rock as lead singer John O'Callaghan encouraged the crowd to brave the heat, but not ask for a bottle of water.
"I can't throw water to you," O'Callaghan told them. "It's a liability issue."
Wyoming's Teenage Bottlerocket was even better. Bursting out a heady set of classic punk in the vein of The Ramones or Husker Du, Ray Carlisle and crew were funny and frantic as they tossed out smart aleck anthems such as "Skate or Die."
Later in the day, Tennessee's Whitechapel put on possibly the most intense set of the day. Vocalist Phil Bozeman screamed like a man possessed as the band powered through songs concerning death and denigration. Not exactly the happiest of tunes, but Whitechapel rocked them mercilessly.
On a bit of a lighter note was Bad Seed Rising, one of the youngest bands on the tour. Fronted by 18-year-old Francheska Pastor, this quartet plays metal the old-fashioned way: riff-heavy and refreshingly coherent. "I Can Feel You," the title cut from the band's soon-to-be-issued debut, was especially catchy.
As the afternoon wore on, Dallas' own Crown the Empire thrilled the local crowd with its feisty take on post hardcore while across the Pavilion, Beebs and her Moneymakers had a smaller contingent swaying to some earthy R&B and hip hop grooves. Fans of different genres had to show some fast footwork to enjoy the songs of such diverse and talented acts.
The evening approached as bands like Sleeping with Sirens and I See Stars ruled separate stages. The pretty boy, emotive rock of Sleeping with Sirens kept the young women screaming and the full-throttle electronic roar of I See Stars brought smiles to the faces of geeks and engineers alike.
The last shouted verses and catchy choruses ended surprisingly early, but it had been an eventful day of quality alternative music. For those with adventurous tastes, this year's Warped Tour provided a little bit of everything and a lot of intensity across a variety of genres.