LIVE: Warped Tour UK @ Alexandra Palace, London

By Tamsyn Wilce

Alternative music lovers in the UK have been lusting after Warped Tour for over a decade now, dreaming of the days when we could all afford to go to America and watch the array of bands that take part in the summer roadtrip across the States. After a brief stint in the UK in 2012 and 2013, fans were left disappointed when it failed to return last year. However, here we are in 2015, Warped is back at Alexandra Palace and despite the obvious downsize in bands, it played host to some incredible acts from both sides of the Atlantic.

Twin Wild – Jagermeister Stage

Opening the Jaegermeister stage at Warped were newcomers Twin Wild and with only two singles under their belt, we were intrigued to see how their performance would go down. Unlike many of the acts on the bill today, there were no dramatics, no mosh pits and no egos. Instead, the early birds at Alexandra Palace were treated to some great British rock music with just a hint of an indie twang. Soon to be recording their debut album, 2016 looks to be an exciting year for Twin Wild. 

Black Foxxes – Kevin Says Stage

Being the first band on the smallest stage is a tough slot, especially when that stage is slumped away in the basement under the beautiful architecture that is Ally Pally, but Black Foxxes turn out to be easily the most exciting band of the day. Whilst Warped Tour prides itself on its diversity of music on offer, it’s bands like this playing raw and honest material that make a line-up something special. Having only been around for two years and a single E.P. released – Black Foxxes are able to control a room with singer Mark Holley’s gravely twisted story-telling.

While the audience slowly drifts in as more and more people enter the venue, the performance stays punchy throughout. Reminiscent of the ringing instrumentation of The Xcerts’ ‘Scatterbrain’ mixed with the vocal style of Pianos Become The Teeth’s Kyle Durfey, Black Foxxes are something exciting to come out of this scene and something to genuinely put your faith in. Songs like ‘River’ bring a touching compassion through lyricism with the power to turn you into a miserable slump while singing your heart out. It’s ferocious and ballistic and it’s raw as hell. 


Tigress – Kevin Says Stage 

Returning to Warped Tour under a different moniker, Tigress (previously known as The Hype Theory) hit the Kevin Says Stage to show us all what they’ve been up to over the past year. And, whilst the new material has a lot of potential to be huge, heart-pounding alternative anthems, the performance overall doesn’t leave the impression we were expecting. Having taken a more synth based route, they rely heavily on backing tracks and effects pedals, most of which are controlled by singer Katy Jackson, which in turn restricts her from being the performer we know she can be. For a band who are attempting to give themselves a clean slate and new chances, they’re gonna need to step up a little more to impress. 

The Word Alive – Monster East Stage

For an act coming from overseas, playing on only half a stage, running 20 minutes late, in one of the largest and most prestigious venues in the UK, The Word Alive prove there’s no time to waste, getting the crowd down on the ground then up in the air by the end of their second song. Musically brilliant and expertly executed, the musicality in their set is one of an experienced band, and with members like drummer Luke Holland there’s no wonder why this metalcore outfit have seen such rapid success.

Keeping in mind the band are embarking on a US tour literally the day after Warped UK there is nothing held back. Drops filling the vast room and shrieks to match Chino Moreno, there was a lot to be impressed by in their set and when crowd-favourite ‘Life Cycles’ comes in there’s nothing to stop the now large crowd from getting involved and ready to start a day full of music. 

The Rocket Summer – Monster East Stage

It’s been far too long since The Rocket Summer graced the UK shores and having spent three years working on the follow-up to 2012’s ‘Life Will Write The Words’ this Warped UK performance is a special treat. Disappointingly, the crowd is extremely thin due to the fact Fearless Vampire Killers are performing at the same time. That said, Bryce Avery still has bundles of energy and passion which spreads joy to everyone who had made the effort to see him perform. Despite a slightly unusual rendition of ‘Walls’, the set is full of gleeful hits such as ‘So, in this Hour’ and ‘Do You Feel’ and if anything we can’t stop smiling from start to finish. Plus, with hints at returning next year alongside the new album it looks like we can all welcome The Rocket Summer back into our lives.

Man Overboard – Monster East Stage

Considering the hot topic of the death of pop-punk, it’s a pleasure to see what are the ‘defenders of pop-punk’ grace us with their infamous presence. What is a shame is the disappointment of a show they put on. Despite a hefty back catalogue of crowd-pleasers to drill through, Man Overboard are not a live band it seems. Both vocalists sacrifice genuine audibility for hair flicks and fist punches and respond rather timidly to the small turnout.

Despite the lack of excitement Man Overboard are able to bring, songs like ‘Love All Your Friends’ and ‘Montrose’ are still sing-a-long magic in any situation and manage for a small celebration in what is one of the most popular modern pop-punk acts fighting as hard as they can to play the music they love – it’s awkward and there’s a sharp tension to the room, but you’ve got to respect the artists for what they do, and that’s play wholesome, friendly pop-punk. 

Man Overboard

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Jukely Stage

With a reborn love for hatred, Frank and his entourage, The Rattlesnakes, are exactly what this line-up needed in the anger department – too many hardcore breakdowns can be boring after a few hours. There’s a huge expectancy of carnage that follows Frank Carter wherever he goes and it’s only fitting that he plays ball and turns the over-sized venue into an over-sized circle pit. By the time Frank jumps into single ‘Juggernaut’, there’s a spiral of people making their way round the crowd and it seems as though Frank’s new project is worth the wait.

It’s something easy to comment on seeing Frank Carter perform live, yes he’s nuts, yes he just told the crowd to move without saying please. But the only reason he is able to have this control over an audience is his innate ability to create adrenaline-fuelled punk rock. ‘Blossom’ is a heck of a debut for the man and with sold out tours all over Europe it’s no surprise that tonights set is a belter. Finishing his set with ‘I Hate You’, it’s awe-inspiring to see an act who can play like rockstars and perform like headliners. 

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

Creeper – Kevin Says Stage

When there’s a security guard on the door of a stage, trying to cram in everyone eager to see a band, you know it’s going to be something special. Southampton punks Creeper are welcomed by an uproar from fans and the next half an hour is a blur of flying bodies, a room of raised fists and sing-a-longs louder than the band themselves. Frontman Will Ghould is as flamboyant and fabulous as ever, whilst tracks such as ‘Honeymoon Suit’ and ‘VCR’ cause sweat to drip down the walls. It’s an exciting time for UK underground bands right now and Creeper are practically skipping down the path to success.


Moose Blood – Jagermeister Stage

Having dominated Warped in the US over the summer, it only felt right that Moose Blood joined the UK bill, and what a reaction they receive. It would appear the UK crowds are somewhat proud of this Canterbury emo outfit, as they perfectly perform tracks from their debut full-length ‘I’ll Keep You In Mind From Time to Time’ whilst heads bop and sing to the heartfelt lyrics. The great thing about Moose Blood is they don’t need ambitious stage performances or gimmicks, they’re as honest as they come and that is exactly why we’ve all fallen head over heels for them.

Moose Blood

Young Guns – Jagermeister Stage

Having stormed back onto UK soil with album ‘Ones and Zeros’ this summer, Young Guns are well and truly making their mark as one of the great British bands of our current generation and their evening slot on the Jagermeister stage only proves this. Strobing lights accompany tracks such as ‘I Want Out’ and ‘Infinity’ whilst Gustav and the rest of the band bounce around the stage, their energy infectious on the crowd. With a line-up boasting hardcore bands galore, it is refreshing to see a powerhouse such as Young Guns deliver a set of passion and talent, without the need for breakdowns. 

Young Guns

Heck – Kevin Says Stage

Heck… It’s been a few years they’ve been taking apart venues and constructing their own stages between every song like they’ve got the attention span of a toddler, getting bored of what they made after a few minutes. I can’t think of a better stage to destroy than the Kevin Says Stage. While an army of emotional teenagers are upstairs watching Black Veil Brides, it’s a sweaty topless picture of chaos in the basement.

Charging through their growing setlist Heck, despite their ‘we’re mental’ gimmick, are actually a bit of a musical spectacle. It’s sloppy in all the right places and polished where it needs to be. It seems guitarists Jonny and Matt are telepathically linked, able to call and receive from one end of the room to another, more surprising considering their few months break form the stage. All of this said, there is a note of emptiness to the set. After a hefty legal battle over their previous name (Baby Godzilla) the band have had some time out to write and focus on producing more music. The appeal of being an incendiary live act can only take you as far as your songwriting. 

Reel Big Fish – Monster West Stage

Well, is there really ever any doubt Reel Big Fish are going to be the most entertaining act of the day? Of course not. Despite becoming an act booked almost as a sure way to keep crowds amused for an hour, Reel Big Fish are a captivating live act. With big personalities and bigger songs, the 20 year-old band have no problem pulling off something brilliant in the slot that’s given to them.

‘S.R’ takes up 10 minutes of the performance, and after four versions are played, what was a tiresome gimmick, turns into everyone’s favourite song and something the crowd of misfit hardcore fans can bond over.

Dressed in their usual slapstick, mod-ska attire, their musicality is far from comical. From ‘Trendy’ to ‘Take On Me’ the 6-piece ska heroes fire through a hit-filled setlist to warm up the crowd for their two headliners, although it could be argued that neither can compare to the sheer excellence that is the Reel Big Fish.


Anti-Flag – Jukely Stage

Fresh off an American, Oceanic and Asian tour and at the first date of a European tour in support of new album ‘American Spring’, Anti-Flag headline the Jukely stage to revellers aplenty all raring to hear the thought-provoking songs of their youth as well as songs from the new album that punch as hard as ever in response to what has been the most politically challenging year for some time. Following on from Frank Carter and his Rattlesnakes, Singer Justin Sane keeps the adrenaline pumping through songs like ‘Die For Your Government’ and ‘Turncoat’, injecting his usual activist personality into their between-song-dialogue.

Sporting garments form various charities and causes it’s obvious this bands fuel is still in abundance. ‘American Spring’ addresses a lot of relevant and global issues and Anti-flag make it their role to both inform and entertain. New songs like single ‘Brandenburg Gate’ are less trashy and more stadium sing-a-long without taking away from the impact of the lyricism. It’s obvious these guys are far from done. Anti-Flag put in what is arguably the best headline performance to a disappointingly sized crowd.

Asking Alexandria – Monster East Stage

Here it is, the long-awaited performance from Asking Alexandria after their first UK show with new vocalist Dennis Stoff was cancelled earlier in the year, and what is their biggest ever UK headline performance. Opening with new single ‘I Won’t Give In’ the band gives us a surprisingly impressive performance in terms of production value, performance and audience engagement. Sadly, this is all we get. From this point on it’s a mediocre performance from a band not ready to headline a festival of this size. Dennis struggles through any previous work, especially songs like ‘The Final Episode’ and ‘The Prophecy’. Despite Dennis’s high range, his movement between clean and screamed vocals isn’t up to the standard of the rest of the band.

For their first performance on UK soil, Asking Alexandria captivated the nervous crowd and gave a clean-sounding rendition of their previous set. This is largely down to the wealth of live experience had on their stint at US Warped Tour, although an unforgivable element of this performance is the cheap use of backing track. It’s expected for an act of this stature playing in a venue as vast as this to have some backline production, but complete lip-syncing of some songs and a backline so loud that the vocalist is inaudible at times is not only embarrassing, but disrespectful to fans that came to hear how the new line-up sounded live. Dennis has a long way to go to earn the respect of longtime fans of the band.