The traveling punk-rock circus known as the Vans Warped Tour is a sensory overload of loud bands, loud people and loudly colored merchandise tents. It also presents a mathematical anomaly: Even the most die-hard music enthusiast couldn't possibly watch all 63-plus bands in the hours allotted to the outdoor fest. But with the power of MySpace and first impressions, the RFT listened to at least one song by nearly every single band playing the St. Louis date of Warped Tour and compiled the following guide to the all-day event.
After Midnight Project: Radio-friendly modern rock that plays out like nü-metal in a major key.
Aiden: Dark emo with lyrics about wasting away and hanging out in gutters, all further dramatized by pianos and gang vocals.
The A.K.A.'s: Organ-driven garage rock reminiscent of early (International) Noise Conspiracy. Music by which to ride Vespas.
Alana Grace: Vulnerable female VH1 pop not unlike Clarkson or Morissette. Perhaps the least "Warped" act on the tour.
Alexisonfire: Gruff-voiced verses and sung-but-not-nasal choruses. Feels like a post-hardcore version of Sponge's track ("Plowed") on the Empire Records soundtrack.
All Time Low: Emo-laced pop punk with a thick sugar coating and glossy studio sheen. It's as if Jimmy Eat World's Bleed American record fell into Willy Wonka's chocolate river.
The Architects: Anthemic garage rock from members of defunct mod-ska outfit the Gadjits.
Attack! Attack!: Metalcore verses meet pop-punk choruses. Live, I wonder if these guys use auto-tune or have somebody editing and quantizing drums, because they rely so heavily on those Pro Tools tricks on its recordings.
Authority Zero: Long-running melodic punk band with hardcore, reggae and surf influences.
Bad Religion: Grandfathers of Warped Tour and heads of Epitaph Records who are still blurring the line between hardcore and pop-punk.
Bayside: Midtempo pop-punk with a few more harmonic and arrangement twists than most, and a singer who sounds like an exact mix between Alkaline Trio front men Matt Skiba and Dan Andriano.
Big D and the Kids Table: These are the weird 30-year-old dudes who show up unannounced at the high school kegger and trash the place. Musically solid third-wave party ska that's defiantly immature.
Black Saints Cartel: Punkish radio rock landing somewhere between Velvet Revolver and a non-shredding Avenged Sevenfold. Consider 'em the audio equivalent of leather jackets and hair gel.
Bouncing Souls: The kings of fist-pumping, mid-tempo, punk-rock anthems that bring out the drunken soccer hooligan inside all of us.
Breathe Carolina: Wussy electro-pop with nasal vocals, as if the Postal Service received estrogen shots or OneRepublic had to perform with its singer's nose plugged. These guys will probably get drowned out by the metal band one stage over.
brokeNCYDE: Femme Fatality meets Lil Jon. This band only exists to make people like me grudgingly use the phrase "emo crunk."
Cash Cash: Light-hearted electro-pop that sometimes comes off like a dance remix of a Blink 182 song, and sometimes just sounds like the Jonas Brothers.
Chiodos: This band sounds like the frontman from New Found Glory made up vocal tracks to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra record.
Conditions: Emo with hardcore speed, pop polish and melodramatic lyrics à la Saves the Day.
A Day To Remember: Dark pop-punk with mosh breakdowns, it sounds as if somebody changed the radio station from an AFI song to a Botch song and back.
The Devil Wears Prada: Metalcore with Southern rock riffs in the vein of Every Time I Die. Alternates between Morse code chugga-chuggas and melodic punk — sort of like Attack! Attack!, but performed by human beings.
Dirty Heads: Reggae-influenced hippie-punks who really, really like Sublime.
Dr. Madd Vibe Experiment: The solo project of Fishbone's Angelo Moore, which melds together poetry, performance art and ska.
Echo Movement: Reggae-influenced hippie-punk band that really, really likes Sublime and gets bonus points for the song title "I Think God Smokes Weed."
Escape the Fate: Technical metalcore with Iron Maiden's harmonized guitar leads, dual vocals and (surprise!) pop-punk choruses.
Every Avenue: Pop-punk with hints of early '00s Vagrant Records emo and sentimental lyrics about staying up all night long.
Forever the Sickest Kids: Keyboard-heavy, pretty-boy emo-pop.
Gallows: Extremely British punk rock. Sex Pistols comparisons are inevitable, but the band sounds more like an angrier version of Bouncing Souls.
Hit the Lights: See Every Avenue.
I Set My Friends On Fire: Ironically schizophrenic band that pivots between A Day To Remember's breakdowns, Breathe Carolina's electro verses and the Blood Brothers' mathy spazz-outs.
In This Moment: Female-fronted rock band that claims to be metal but sounds like Evanescence.
InnerPartySystem: Goth-ish dance rock, like the Faint covering Godsmack.
Inward Eye: Garage-influenced political punk that's like a better-executed version of Green Day's newest album.
Ivoryline: Woe-is-me mid-tempo emo rock with big power chords and the occasional dance beat.
Less Than Jake: Ska-band-turned-punk band with horns-turned-punk band without horns-turned-alternative-rock band. Currently a punk band again that may or may not have horns.
Longway: Southern California skate punk with rockabilly fascinations.
Madina Lake: See Ivoryline.
The Maine: This band follows the same formula as Madina Lake and Ivoryline, but has hints of All Time Low's overproduction.
Meg & Dia: Female-fronted alt-pop akin to the similarly named Tegan and Sara, but even more fitting for adult-contemporary radio.
Millionaires: Underage girls rapping about getting drunk. Somebody is a marketing genius.
P.O.S.: Self-deprecating Rhymesayers emcee with interesting beats and decent flow, but an unfortunate habit of screaming in his songs.
Phathom: Megadeth riffs meet Bad Religion's rally cries.
Saosin: Cleaned up emo-core that sometimes steps into Hoobastank territory.
Scary Kids Scaring Kids: See Escape the Fate.
Senses Fail: Punky post-hardcore with melodic outbursts and metal tendencies.
Shad: Wordy Canadian rapper named after a fish, with jazz-sampling beats and flow comparable to Wale and Lupe Fiasco.
Shooter Jennings: Southern rock from Waylon Jennings' son.
Sing It Loud: See the Maine.
Single File: Power-pop songs about girls, like a less-goofy Nerf Herder.
A Skylit Drive: Screamo band fronted by a guy who sounds like a girl, so basically a less technical Coheed and Cambria.
Streetlight Manifesto: The new band from the former Catch 22 frontman sounds an awful lot like his old band and even covers Catch 22's Keasbey Nights record in its entirety. Still, SM is perhaps the most interesting and proficient active ska band around.
Tat: Mid-tempo punk band with speed-metal rhythm guitars. I had to look up this band on Wikipedia to figure out its singer is a girl, and I'm still not totally convinced.
There For Tomorrow: Emo band likely influenced by early Taking Back Sunday and Brand New. Sounds like a darker version of Ivoryline, Madina Lake, the Maine and Sing It Loud.
Therefore I Am: Gruff-voiced melodic punk with a hint of late '90s Midwestern emo-core. Not the heaviest band on Warped Tour, but it might be the most genuinely pissed off.
TV/TV: See InnerPartySystem.
Underoath: Semi-technical semi-Christian semi-hardcore. When asked the question "What Would Jesus Do?" the band answers, "Spin kicks."
Valencia: See Ivoryline, Madina Lake.
VersaEmerge: Dramatic emo. Aiden with a female vocalist.
We The Kings: See All Time Low.
Westbound Train: R&B- and traditional ska-influenced band, which fulfills Warped Tour's "one non-hippie reggae band" requirement.
The White Tie Affair: See All Time Low, We The Kings.
You Me at Six: See Hit the Lights, Every Avenue.
3OH!3: See brokeNCYDE.