1. And here we have yet another article from VICE unnecessarily bashing an incredibly beloved institution. I’m starting to think VICE chose its name in how it loves to expose its writers’ vices.

    The article begins with the writer, Mitchell Sunderland, presumably at the Beatport Stage describing what he sees. The intro paragraph is simply a description; it presents no opinion and no purpose. He then follows it with the age-old cliche that I think everyone is tired of hearing: how something is “no longer” what it used to be. Sunderland then begins to provide what seem like memories of what the tour used to be. He claims there were homophobic skateboarders in the audience. He claims only emo, pop punk, and scene kids attended. He’s starting to sound like a grumpy old man getting nostalgic when all of a sudden he hits you with this sentence:

    "I never went to Warped Tour when I was teenager."

    Wait. How can someone who has never even been to Warped Tour think he can accurately describe how Warped Tour has changed. VICE has sent in an outsider to report on a heavily community-oriented institution. That’s already a terrible idea and to make matters worse, the writer is also too narrow-minded to make any attempts to understand the community. Instead he ignorantly criticizes it from afar.

    In doing so, his article is overflowing with errors. He says that once upon a time Warped “meant something to attend or play here.” If he had bothered to interview any of the bands playing Warped for the first time or more people who attended, I think he would have found out how much Warped Tour still means to people. He also claims that in the past, Warped meant “you belonged to a band that had a ridiculous name like Bowling for Soup or Cute Is What We Aim For.” Whatever “belonging to a band” is supposed to mean, here’s another case where Sunderland didn’t even do his most basic research because then he would’ve realized that both Bowling for Soup and Cute Is What We Aim For happen to be playing the tour this year.

    But now he complains that all he sees is “EDM, rap, pop, hardcore, and pop-punk—a variety of genres encompassing, well, everything.” First of all, I’m not sure why that sentence is a negative thing. Second of all, since he doesn’t associate with the pop punk/hardcore community it doesn’t even make sense for him to spin that sentence negatively. Third of all, he’s once again foregone his basic research on Warped because he’s completely wrong in thinking that genre diversity is a new thing. Eminem played Warped in 1999. The Black Eyed Peas played in both 1999 and 2001. Katy Perry played in 2008. Warped Tour has never just been about punk music and 20 years later, people are still having trouble wrapping their head around that for some reason.

    Into the next paragraph, Sunderland only further magnifies his ignorance by saying, “the biggest act I recognized on this year’s roster was Yellowcard—a one-hit wonder.” I guess he was too preoccupied by the testicular cancer tent to notice Yellowcard’s enormous crowd singing along to all their other songs besides just Ocean Avenue.” And due to his demonstrated lack of research in his previous paragraphs, I already know that he’s completely oblivious about the 4 full-lengths Yellowcard released after that song and how they still headline sold-out tours more than ten years after that song’s release. Once again, an unnecessary and false swipe at a hard-working, much-beloved band.

    Sunderland then provides an anecdote of how his friends would wait through six hours of “terrible opening acts to see one good band.” So obviously everyone at Warped must feel the same way about opening acts right? Well even if that were somehow ever true, Sunderland also has no idea that Warped is unique in how the schedule changes at every single stop. Because of this, lineup hierarchy only exists through stage size and not time. It sounds like his friends only cared about who was playing the main stages but I guess none of them, and Sunderland, realized that headliners are playing throughout the day. Your favorite band might close out the main stage tonight, but tomorrow they could be playing at 11am. Also it’s a shame that Sunderland’s friends were too snobby to check out the incredible talent playing all the other stages and that those bands they waited six hours to see were probably on those smaller stages the few years before. Sunderland also says that now in replacement of his friends’ terrible waiting time, kids just like to sit against fences and text on their phones, with a photograph as proof. This is yet another example of how little he understands about Warped culture, or actually just music festival culture in general. Those kids in the photo are more likely taking a break because they just spent 5 hours jumping around in the sun, or are waiting to meet up with a friend because they went to go see different bands. I don’t think sitting down at a music festival is anything new or something to attack. Yeah kids may spend way too much time on their phones these days, but does Sunderland honestly think they buy a ticket to Warped so they can spend six hours sitting against a fence and text

    The next paragraph is the only real press work Sunderland seemed to do: an interview with The Maine that he relays to his readers in an incredibly inappropriate, uncomfortable fashion. I think the horrific journalism speaks for itself in this case.

    After that, you’re almost grateful that the article returns to completely misunderstanding what Warped Tour stands for. This time, he decides to sneer at Warped’s inability to “launch any of their songs to the top of the Billboard charts” and that press just consists of “teenagers with flip-cams who claim to run blogs.” The beautiful thing about Warped Tour is that it doesn’t care about big names or commercial success. It cares about serving a community. Kevin Lyman doesn’t care who’s on the top of the charts. He cares about what bands play great music and who kids want to see. He doesn’t care about having the biggest press outlets possible, but he loves providing kids a chance to try out what they are passionate about. Sunderland begins by complaining about the decline in Warped Tour’s punk rock reputation and yet here he insults how Warped Tour still exemplifies the punk ethos.

    Sunderland continues, saying he only met one band with radio potential and that if they ever manage to blow up, it’s not thanks to Warped Tour. Because Sunderland never attended Warped Tour until now, he’s never witnessed how bands grow with the tour. I only started attending Warped four years ago, and since then I’ve already watched many bands, including We Are The In Crowd, The Wonder Years, and The Story So Far, work their way up the stages as they steadily grew their fan bases. Music festivals are incredibly useful growing a band’s career or even making them “blow up,” because they provide the perfect environment for music discovery. You bought a ticket and you’re at the festival all day, but chances are you don’t like a band playing every single second of the day, leading you to check out new ones. Warped’s method of releasing a different schedule at every stop makes it even more likely for you to decide to check out that one band you heard about online or just stumble randomly across an unknown band that you realize you really like. I’ve discovered countless bands through both scenarios these past few years.

    It was nice of Sunderland to highlight the all-girl Shiragirl stage in his article, even if he concludes the section by throwing shade at its founder.

    He also compares Warped Tour to a mall rather than a “punk rock event.” It’s true, Warped is like a mall and I love that, but it’s not like your regular mall in the suburb that you grew up in. It’s a line of tents where hard-working, independent businesses can sell their products and grow their brand. It’s where bands can actually sell their music in an economy where buying physical music has drastically declined. It’s where kids can buy exclusive items they can’t find anywhere else and avoid paying tax or shipping. Many of these tents are also charities trying to get kids involved early and using a cool platform to raise awareness about many causes. Essentially, the “mall” of tents is yet another example of punk ethics that Sunderland is too ignorant to notice. 

    He manages to find someone to support his earlier arguments, who apparently complains that, “now [there’s] no moshing because kids are coming.” It’s true, there are a lot of younger attendees, but Warped has always been geared towards a 13-18 demographic. Also I’m not sure what sets he saw, because at the Warped stops I attended this year, I still saw plenty of moshing, regardless if the band onstage was playing pop punk, metalcore, ska, or EDM. Maybe he was bothered by the new banners on each stage banning crowdsurfing and moshing, but they’re only there for legal reasons and haven’t really stopped anybody.

    Sunderland returns to the marine veteran he interviewed outside the venue who says that hardcore and pop punk “was one of the few ways he could get through his difficult emotions both during and after the war,” and therefore he’s “[hardcore and pop punk] until I fucking die.” Although Sunderland didn’t bother to interview the other thousands of people out there who all felt just as passionate, it’s unbelievable to me that just from what the veteran told him, that he is still unable to grasp Warped Tour’s importance to its community.

    If kids have the internet and EDM, do they really need punk rock? Yes. Yes they do. Because one, in what logical sense does internet replace punk rock? Two, does Sunderland realize kids, or just people in general, are different. That some people like EDM, some people like punk rock, some people like both, and some people like neither. I spent a weekend this summer attending two Warped Tour dates, while several of my friends spent the same weekend at EDC. We each had the time of our lives and respected each other’s decisions in how to spend that weekend because we realized how incredibly fortunate we are to have the ability to choose how we wish to spend our time. The same happens within just the context of Warped. Some people at Warped only see rock bands. Some decide to check out the EDM stage. Some might decide to spend all day at the EDM stage. And there’s nothing wrong with any of those decisions. Regardless of how people choose to spend their day, I think everyone at Warped still has an amazing time and would be devastated if the festival went away. 

    I’m not one to say that the press can never be negative, but it’s incredibly disappointing to see that the tour provided Sunderland with a press pass and several bands volunteered their time for him, and in return he slanders all of it with no logical backing.

     

  2. Watching a band die

    This weekend, I trekked down to San Diego to see my friends in Such A Mess open for Hit The Lights at the Epicentre. It was the Skip School, Start Fights tour with Hit The Lights playing through their most successful album that was released about 6 years ago. I was incredibly excited to see them, since SSSF was one of the first albums I listened to back then, and integral in introducing me to the pop punk genre. 

    Unfortunately, upon arriving at the show, I soon realized how much has changed since that album was first released. When the band first announced the 3-date tour in tiny venues, I was absolutely sure they would sell out quickly and was eager to see them in such small rooms. Instead of the packed, sweaty show full of nostalgic, diehard fans that I imagined, I instead witnessed a three-quarters empty Epicentre with maybe two rows of fans singing along in the front and a couple kids two-stepping in the pit. Another ring of people stuck to the borders of the room, watching afar with their arms crossed. 

    It was unbelievably painful to watch a band I’ve loved since middle school play their smash record to a smattering of lukewarm fans. I’m still confused as to why that outer ring of people chose to buy tickets to this show just to stand there and stare unemotionally. I remember seeing Hit The Lights open for All Time Low my freshmen year of college, playing to a packed crowd that seemed really into the music. Afterwards I encouraged Nick to play more west coast shows, but he gave a half-hearted response, already hinting at their weak fanbase on the west. His words came to life that night in San Diego.

    Witnessing a show like that where Hit The Lights was pretty much reduced to a local band was like watching the band die right in front of me. It sucked because I know this run of shows must be extremely disheartening for the band and would discourage them from playing more west coast shows. I’m also scared that if the next record falls flat as well, the band may be nearing its end, which would be such a shame because they write some of the catchiest pop punk melodies and Nick is one of my favorite frontmen in terms of stage presence.

    I think signing with Pure Noise Records, a west coast label and strong up-and-comer in the pop punk scene, was a fantastic career move, but both the band and the label have a lot of work to do to rekindle the magic from before.

     

  3. Current state of mind.

     

  4. I finally have a song written about me <3

    On the real though, this album is full of great feel-good indie pop and I am very excited to see the band play again tonight.

    (Source: Spotify)

     

  5. One of the most successful musicians in the world speaking purely about the business side of music. This article is incredibly interesting and I sincerely hope that Taylor Swift actually wrote the entire thing. It shows how acutely aware she is of everything going on around her, especially her note on the shift from autographs to selfies. I will say her suggestions on never undervaluing the price of music and releasing music that produces “arrows through the heart” will probably draw a lot of “easy for her to say”-type reactions. Overall, however, I agree with this article on where the industry is headed, especially on how artists must deal with ever shrinking attention spans from their audience.

     

  6. Summer Update

    Sorry for the lack of posts. This summer has been quite hectic and I’ve been living without wifi ever since we got kicked out of the dorms about three weeks ago. Here is a quick update of notable things that have happened this summer so far.

    • I started my internship at Hopeless Records. It’s still been incredibly surreal that I’m spending my summer interning at my favorite label that signed many of the artists I grew up listening to. I landed the gig through a chance connection, proving just how important luck and networking are in the music industry, which is both exhilarating and terrifying. It’s hard to believe that sometimes the president of Hopeless just casually buys me lunch and asks me how I’m doing, like he has no idea how big of an impact he’s already had on my life.
    • I attended Warped Tour Pomona and Ventura with Hopeless Records. This was the first time I attended Warped for free and also the first time I got to watch the bands from sidestage, a lofty goal that I didn’t think I was even close to accomplishing yet. While sidestage for We Are The In Crowd, I ran into Sean Mackin and finally got to show him my Yellowcard tattoo a year and a half after I had gotten it. This was once again another surreal experience getting to go backstage and walk around the buses and hang out at the Hopeless afterparty (even though they made me run to Vons during This Wild Life’s set to grab ice).
    • I finally have a car in LA, so the obviously the first thing I decided to do with it was drive to San Diego for Warped Tour round 3. Since I didn’t go with Hopeless this time, I was able to check out a lot more bands. Elder Brother was the last band on my must-see list and they gave a phenomenal performance to a way too small crowd in the Acoustic Basement. I also saw the weirdness that is the Protomen, the pure joy that is Captain Capa, and the awesomeness that is Bowling For Soup.
    • I moved into my very first apartment this past week as well. It’s also been the first time I’ve ever had to move without my parents. Somehow, with the help of a few friends though, I’ve managed to move all my stuff in, and now I just need to unpack it. So far, I have a frame but no mattress and a desk but no chair, so you could say moving in has been pretty successful so far. I also cooked my first meal today which was dumplings from Costco. I poured too much water into the pot and it overboiled and my roommates had to help me. See mom, I can cook.

    Along with some other things going on, including a job and another internship, I’m usually working at least 6 days a week. It might sound terrible being that busy, but it’s impossible to describe how nice it is to be busy all day and then come home and not have to do anymore work. To not have to keep reading or writing papers past midnight after you’ve been out since 8 in the morning is the greatest feeling in the entire world.

    Hopefully that means once things are settled down, I’ll have time to work on this blog as much as I did last summer. 

     

  7. Dimmi - Promesses

    In the latest of utterly bizarre music discoveries, today at work while listening to a random playlist, I discovered a track that combines jazz and electronic and samples from what is apparently President Obama’s re-election victory speech. As strange as that sounds, the song is actually an immensely enjoyable display of modern production and genre-mashing.

    (Source: Spotify)

     
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  10. Last Week Reflection - Pledge Drive, Spring Sing, BBMA’s

    Not to over-exaggerate, but last week might have been the busiest week of my life.

    It was UCLARadio’s annual Pledge Drive, which is our huge fundraising push to raise money for the station next year. This was probably our most ambitious Pledge Drive yet with a staggering (at least in my mind) crowd-funding goal of $5000 and a 120-hour programming marathon. This means there were DJ’s on-air around the clock for the entire week. As a manager, we were expected to be hanging out in the station through the night. On Monday night (Tuesday morning), I stayed in the station from midnight to 6am, when I had to leave for 12 hours of stage building for Spring Sing. On Friday morning, I was on-air from 4-6am, took a quick nap in the station, then went to my 9am class. Maybe we were fucking crazy for even attempting this, but in the end, it worked. Donations shot up. We broke $1000 in less than 24 hours since our Spark page went up, and easily surpassed our goal in the next couple days. I was beyond shocked and proud of our team, because I will admit I wasn’t sure if anybody was going to donate at all. It’s incredible to be part of the team that I personally think has made the most impact in the history of UCLARadio.

    Coinciding with Pledge Drive was Spring Sing, UCLA’s huge annual talent show, taking place last Friday. As part of the stage crew, I was essentially required to live inside the venue, Pauley Pavilion, from Tuesday through Friday in order to prepare. Like I said, on Tuesday we were there from 6am to 6pm assembling the stage, hanging the lights, running cables, and more, transforming our basketball stadium into a mini STAPLES Center. The next two days we were there past midnight for rehearsals. On Friday, I luckily had some time to sleep after my class before I was back in Pauley at 4:30 for the actual show. Some people question who on earth would commit so much time for free, but I loved being in that empty arena, watching the acts rehearse, and know I was a part of this incredible concert. Plus, on show night, I got to stand right next to Jonathan Bennett/Aaron Samuels who was judging Spring Sing <3

    Sunday was the Billboard Music Awards. After working the AMA’s last November, my old manager called me up again and asked if I was interested in helping out with the BBMA’s. Obviously I couldn’t say no. We got to the office at 8am sharp to make sure everything was ready when the Red Carpet Show began at 3. Similar to my job during the AMA’s, I was in charge of sending the performance videos to the artist managers to get their approval then uploading them for VEVO to use. It might seem incredibly boring that I sat in an office and didn’t attend the actual awards, but once again I was just happy to be a part of such a prominent event, in any way, shape, or form. 13 hours later, I left the office still finding it hard to believe that I just got paid to watch an award show and correspond with some of the industry’s biggest managers.

    With Pledge Drive, Spring Sing, and the BBMA’s crammed into one week, I ended up pulling two all-nighters and multiple 12+ hour-long work shifts. That might sound terrible to some, but I loved it. What made the week so thrilling was that instead of school, my time was completely engulfed by projects I was truly passionate about. Coming out of that week excited to get involved in even more, rather than feeling burned out, just cemented how much I want to work in this industry.