Since its maiden voyage more than two decades ago, Vans Warped Tour has long had the reputation of being responsible for discovering “the next big thing.” Countless spectators have watched bands and artists like Katy Perry, Eminem, and Avenged Sevenfold without realizing that they were, in fact, witnessing artists who would later go on to become the gatekeepers to their respective genres.
The travelling festival’s 2017 campaign was no different, giving fans a glimpse into what might be seen as the beginning of an ascent for many of their favorite bands who have yet to hit the mainstream, like Knocked Loose, and The Dazies, as well as somewhat of a redemption for the punk and metal veterans who graced this year’s lineup, such as GWAR, Anti-Flag and Boston's own Street Dogs.
But out of the dozens and dozens of bands that took to several stages and braved the absurd amount of rain that targeted Mansfield’s Xfinity Center on Wednesday (July 12), a few of those non-mainstream names seemed to really have that “thing” that made their fans go absolutely bonkers.
While many sets for local and brand new artists were cut short due to the weather, the experience was unlike any other, watching bands give it their all with the few precious minutes they had in the spotlight, as if this were their last performance ever. From under the canopy of the amphitheater to the Mutant South Stage placed in the back of the parking lot with nothing more than a plastic bag masquerading as a poncho to stave off the rain, droves of fans of so many different genres gathered together for what is sure to be a memorable afternoon for the Vans Warped Tour.
It was truly impossible to catch everything at Warped's Massachusetts stop -- and the numerous last-minute schedule changes because of the severe weather wreaked havoc on any pre-determined gameplan -- but below are four bands that caught our attention throughout the day.
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Okay, so Alestorm may not be what one would consider “out of the mainstream,” given their Facebook “like” count is nearing half a million people, but damn — their set was a party, and not everyone knows the name. And just for the fact that they acknowledged that Mansfield wasn’t actually Boston (“Good afternoon, not-quite-Boston!”), they belong on this list. Imagine if Captain Jack Sparrow and Dropkick Murphys collaborated, and then used not one, but two keytars. For as much beer swilling and salty sailor talk taking place, the musical intellect they exhibited, that can only be described as, ironically enough, “swashbuckling” pirate metal was top notch, and kept every fan moving and singing along to every foul-mouthed sea shanty on the setlist until it was time for Alestorm to set sail once again.