The burly, keg-bellied dude who looked like a tattooed sack of potatoes sang of death while simultaneously trying to prevent it.
“Stay alive,” enjoined Trevor Strnad, frontman for death metallers The Black Dahlia Murder, speaking from one of eight stages erected in the Silverton parking lot on Friday, which doubled as a massive asphalt griddle as the Warped Tour engulfed the grounds.
“If a guy looks dead, get him hydrated,” he offered helpfully in-between savage blasts of soot-black, yet subtly melodic metal.
As fierce as The Black Dahlia Murder was, the band had nothing on the Hades-worthy heat, which lubricated every movement in sweat.
“I don’t care who my favorite band was, I would never come out and deal with this heat,” gasped Kellin Quinn, singer for the equally melodic and metallic Sleeping with Sirens, midway through their packed main stage set.
For much of the nine-hour show, there were as many concertgoers clustered under shade tents as there were watching some acts perform on the lesser-attended stages.
Not everyone was able to escape the sun, however, as the Clark Country Fire Department reported that 172 patients were treated for heat-related injuries from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., while another 34 concertgoers were transferred to local hospitals for treatment.
The suffocating temperatures detracted from what was, in many cases, a family affair.
“How many parents are out there?” Quinn asked at one point, eliciting a healthy round of affirmative cheers.
Now in its 19th year, the Warped Tour has become a passing of the torch between punk rock dads in sweat-soaked Bad Religion T-shirts and their teenage kids, with mothers and daughters bonding over the bone-abrading breakdowns of metalcore favorites such as August Burns Red, Memphis May Fire and We Came As Romans.
This isn’t to suggest that Warped was entirely welcoming of mom and dad.
“What I’ve learned about adults is that they’re bitter, they’re jaded,” fumed Jesse Barnett, lead singer for hardcore brutes Stick to Your Guns, whose songs registered as a series of middle fingers extended toward authority figures of all stripes. “They’re jealous of your young age.
“The world needs young people.”
Who needs them the most?
Advertisers aiming for the teen demographic, at least judging by this show, where corporate sponsorships made the Warped grounds feel like one product placement opportunity after the next, from beef jerky manufacturers, video game producers, the U.S. armed forces, fast food restaurants and even car companies (a Kia Soul was positioned between the two main stages).
In the past, that might have registered as an affront to punk sensibilities, such obvious, omnipresent marketing from largely corporate entities.
But at Warped, it’s welcomed as a way to defray tour costs and keep ticket prices low for the largely teen audience (it cost less than $30 to get into the Vegas show).
Plus, all the sales pitches were contrasted by a significant presence from various nonprofit organizations such as PETA, breast cancer awareness groups and anti-smoking campaigns.
The balance between idealism and commerce, activism and big business, youth and adulthood lies at the center of the Warped Tour, which, like punk rock itself, has had to come to develop the ability to navigate shifting ideals as it grows up.
Punk rock learned long ago to disavow itself from the black and white world view it was initially posited upon: anti-commercialism (good), maximizing profits (bad); rebellion (good), responsibility (bad); etc.
As the Warped Tour has demonstrated, it’s possible to embrace all of those things at once without contradicting oneself.
Another divide that Warped has bridged over the years is the one between the sexes.
More than just about any other concert tour out there, the Warped audience is evenly split between males and females, a doubly significant achievement considering how testosterone-based and dude-heavy many of the bands are.
Part of that is because a segment of the Warped lineup is received like heavily tattooed boy bands these days.
That included Never Shout Never, who performed their alternately acoustic and electric emo pop backed by a row of girls culled from the crowd, and the aforementioned Sleeping With Sirens, who mocked their heartthrob status by bringing a bunch of chiseled, bare-chested guys onstage with them.
Still, their frontman, Quinn, garnered the most rapturous, and occasionally ribald, response from the ladies, and when he brushed past a female crowd member upon departing the grounds after performing, she burst into tears.
But whereas Quinn was a decidedly cocksure presence, others deflated their egos as a sort of peace offering between the sexes.
That was best exemplified by Justin Pierre, frontman for pop punk veterans Motion City Soundtrack.
Pierre mostly trades in vulnerability and self-effacement, delivered over a bed of dizzy synth and cresting choruses.
“I wanna know what it’s like to be awkward and innocent, not belligerent,” he sang during “L.G. FUAD.” “I wanna know how it feels to be useful and pertinent and have common sense.”
Mostly, though, he just wants to fit in.
That, as much as anything else, is the need the Warped Tour serves, a sentiment underscored by the inclusivity of its lineup, which ranged from white bread rapper MC Lars rhyming about Shakespeare and Edgar Allen Poe to the punchy ska pep talks of Beebs and Her Moneymakers to the palpitating electro rock of Goldhouse.
“Let me in, let me into the club,” Pierre pleaded in the aforementioned song. “Because I wanna belong.”
Here, he did.
Just like everyone else.
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0476.