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THE BATTLE TO PLAY WARPED TOUR – Includes Commentary From Jara, Opt Out, Essex Class, And The Casualists

Article by Kyla Wyllie
Photography by Annika Cimas
Warped Tour (n.) – A summer rock festival, circuiting the U.S. since 1995, making it the longest running music festival in all of North America. It is also the biggest traveling music festival in the U.S.
Eight fantastic bands got the opportunity to battle for a chance to play Warped Tour 2k16 on the night of May 27. Only one came out on top but all eight acts left everything, and then some, on stage. From the punk, head-banging vibes of Amaya Light to the killer vocals and harmonica solo brought by The Casualists, there was definitely a wide spectrum of talent displayed.
“Music and art is just a universal language that everyone can speak,” local musician, Jara, tells us in his interview. That’s why such a wide array of personalities can come together over one show, one band, one song. It’s just the fact that one thing can be interpreted so many different ways, it’s “receptive.”
Although each band has a specific sound and presence unique to them, they all answered one question the same. When asked if they had any pre-show rituals, all four groups we interviewed said that they pray. Religious or not, praying helps calm the nerves before a big show like this, it allows you to take a deep breath and “get in the zone.” “We like to lead ourselves in a little group prayer, we also stretch,” says Ryan Barnes, the guitarist and lead vocals for Opt Out. “Ross (the guitarist for Essex Class) told us not to eat Chick-fil-A so we do. We eat Chick-fil-A before every show just because he said not to.”
Regardless of the blunt attempts to spite Ross, they’re all close friends, and that shines through in the performances. When Ross’ guitar strap had malfunctioned in the middle of their set, Ryan didn’t hesitate to run out on stage to help. Even though all of the performers were competing against one another, there was no hostile attitudes, everyone was just there to put on the best show they could. “I’m just looking forward to creating a new sound at Soma, having fun, and doing new things with music,” says Elisia Savoca, lead vocals for The Casualists. “I just love Soma and the people surrounding it, they’re all amazing.”
If you weren’t fortunate enough to attend this show, let us give you some of the highlights throughout the night! Starting out the lineup with a rock ‘n set, Opt Out sent pink yard flamingos into the crowd, and were briefly accompanied by none other than Pat Collins of the late, great Snykes. Next three bands to perform, Hard To Hit, Turn It Around, and Heavyweight took the stage, and the crowd, raising the energy in the room straight to the moon. Opening up their set with the hit song “Domino,” Essex Class wowed, and surprised, everyone when they smashed a guitar on stage and threw it into the center of the crowd. Evoking his large fan base of teen girls, pop artist, Jara, put on a phenomenal show and got the crowd jumping with his “funky disco punk astronaut” vibes and un-replicable dance moves. In addition, he was accompanied by musician Bakkuda, and Austin Arthur, AKA King Droog and former drummer for The Snykes. After that, Amaya Lights‘ set got everyone in the audience head-banging, punk fan or not. Finally, The Casualists left everyone in the crowd wanting more. With their idiosyncratic blend of styles brought by each member, they put forth a sound that no one has heard before, not to mention that funky harmonica solo.
Finally, the winner is revealed. Congratulations to… TURN IT AROUND! You’ll be seeing them rock the stage at this year’s Warped Tour! Special thanks to everyone who competed, you all played an amazing night. Every single one of you deserved to win, but only one could come out on top.
Photography by the wonderful Annika Cimas, if you need a concert photographer she’s the one you have to go to!


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