The Warped Tour pretty much defines the term "option paralysis." There are so many bands, if you don't have a list of who you want to see, you'll wind up staggering around in a daze and probably get heatstroke. Here's a list of the 10 artists you shouldn't miss when the tour stops at Blossom this week ... plus one you should stay far, far away from.
A Day to Remember
These Floridians mix pop-punk choruses with metalcore breakdowns, throwing bass drops and hip-hop attitude into the mix. But frontman Jeremy McKinnon's lyrics are all romantic angst and pledges of bro-hood. In other words, their music is a bullet aimed straight at the brain-stem of American teens. They put on a hell of a show too, leaping back and forth across the stage and inciting near-riots among their ultra-passionate fans.
A soulful L.A.-based reggae group made up of dudes who look like they should be in a hardcore band, the Aggrolites' organ-driven, occasionally horn-punctuated songs have a roots flavor and a vintage sound that's perfect inducement to dance like a madman in the summer sun.
August Burns Red
This Pennsylvania metalcore band prays onstage before beginning its set so they don't have to force any sort of message down fans' throats. Their songs carry a powerful groove, so once they're done prayin', you can start moshin'.
Big Chocolate is a prominent DJ and dubstep producer who's done remixes for a number of metal bands. He's also the frontman for the deathcore group Disfiguring the Goddess. He's focusing on the electronic side of his work at Warped, but he could wind up onstage roaring with some metalcore act.
Black Veil Brides
These guys dress like Mötley Crüe, circa 1983, but their music is 21st-century metalcore, with chugging guitar riffs, a mix of extreme vocals, and clean choruses. But the value of stage costumes can't be overestimated in this age of faceless bands with identical haircuts. If you wish Avenged Sevenfold wore more eye makeup and played fewer guitar solos, BVB are for you.
The Devil Wears Prada
These Christian metalcore merchants don't beat audiences over the head with the Bible. Hell, they made a whole EP of songs about zombies, and we all know Jesus/zombie jokes write themselves. Musically speaking, they're getting heavier and heavier, and they've got an album, Dead Throne, due in September, so expect to hear some new songs.
Miss May I
This Troy, Ohio-based band stuffs more old-school death-metal fury into its songs than most of its peers. Expect to hear riffs worthy of Darkest Hour or As I Lay Dying, and absolutely no cheesy synth lines or rave breakdowns — just pure roaring mosh-pit fodder.
Of Mice & Men
The backstage drama (the band's founding singer was ousted in the middle of a health scare before eventually returning) could easily overshadow the music, but this band's latest album, The Flood, is one of the year's best screamo/metalcore records, packed with powerful songs that aim for epic and almost get there. Expect big crowds: Frontman Austin Carlile is worshipped by a certain segment of the young rock population.
This U.K. punk band blends the old-school sound of the Clash with the new(er)-school edge of vintage Social Distortion, who they just finished opening for on tour. They haven't recorded a full-length album yet, but the EPs compiled on The Joys of Living 2008-2011 are blazing.
Winds of Plague
This California metalcore squad comes across like brain-damaged chest-beaters, blending thuggish hip-hop attitude with crushing breakdowns and gang-shouted choruses about beating your ass. But their songs are weirdly addictive, especially on their new album, Against the World, and they're sure to be just the thing at Warped — especially if your thing is getting in the pit and punching strangers in their neck tattoos.
I Set My Friends on Fire
This electro-screamo joke band has inflicted two of the worst albums in music history on the world, and their live show is sure to feature their version of Soulja Boy's "Crank Dat" from their debut, You Can't Spell Slaughter Without Laughter. You're better off watching a merch guy sip lemonade when these clowns are onstage.
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