In The Rearview Mirror: The Final Warped Tour Hartford Stop

Simple Plan…with a Super Soaker © SLenhard Photo


July 15, 2018

The Vans Warped Tour is winding down with final northeast stop growing smaller in the rearview window. However, getting to The Xfinity Center was a traffic nightmare upon reaching the city limits on the interstate. Besides road repair, there was the issue of parking which was at its limit everywhere due to the 19,340 attendees.

Once inside things began to feel like a regular Warped day.  Those who hadn’t found the performance schedules on Reddit or Instagram while stuck in traffic headed straight to the big inflatable billboard and quickly wrote down the times and stages of the bands they wanted to see.  Then they moved on to the merch, sponsor and non-profit tents looking for signing schedules.

The only real change for this stop had nothing to do with it being the finale but with Mother Nature.  At 7 a.m. when load-in began the weather report was for thunderstorms in the afternoon so the decision was made to move the main stages into the amphitheater and put the two Mutant stages out in the parking lot.  With ticket sales at their maximum, the weather holding except for maybe 12 raindrops around 1 p.m. and a venue staff that failed at logistics, this made for some unpleasantries attempting to come and go from the main stages.  But in the end, all of the performances this reporter took-in at that spot were great.

Reel Big Fish | © SLenhard Photo

The line-up was a great mix of old and new.  Though some would complain that there was no Yellowcard or My Chemical Romance reunions, no NoFX or AntiFlag, there were headliners the likes of Bowling for Soup, We The Kings and 3OH!3. Local well-knowns Four Years Strong (MA) and State Champs (NY) kicked serious rock ass and Knuckle Puck, from Chicago, gave a shout out to the former popular Hamden all-ages venue The Space.  Up and coming ska band, The Interrupters from Los Angeles got everyone in the skank pit. Later on in the day Reel Big Fish turned the ska up a notch. Mayday Parade, Falling in Reverse and Real Friends also tore up and with the crowd had a great time.  We The Kings mentioned that it was probably the most people they’d ever played for and all (approximately) twelve-thousand of them responded loudly with their love.

3OH!3’s Nathanial Motte | © SLenhard Photo

One of the quintessential traits of Warped Tour is on-stage collaborations.  Many of the musicians are friends and being in one spot together presents these unique opportunities. This stop was not an exception.  3OH!3 brought out their good friend Travis Clark from We The Kings. Bowling for Soup added Pierre Bouvier of Simple Plan on for one song and closed their set doing “1985” with the entire horn line of Reel Big Fish.

The highest points for this reporter were: Bowling For Soup whose set was just good old-fashioned pop-punk fun.  At one point frontman Jaret Reddick explained there was a song that the band has often been falsely credited with for the past nine years.  However, “being a professional musical organization” BFS was qualified to perform it.

Bowling For Soup | © SLenhard Photo

Then they broke into a cover of “Stacy’s Mom” which had the entire amphitheater singing and dancing along.  Bowling For Soup also got the marriage proposal for the day. The set was stopped for a lesbian couple and she said “yes”.

Finally the “Perfect” end to a pretty OK day.  The band that pulled the closing set time from the hat was Simple Plan.  Their adios to Vans Warped Tour Hartford included all the old stuff starting with “Addicted” and “Welcome To My Life”.  There were supersoakers and then beach balls for “I’m Just A Kid”. They closed the stage and the day with “Perfect”. We walked back to the car a trio of sunburned, dirty, achy blubbering fools.

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