The Vans Warped Tour roars into town again for its 19th year, and, as always, the traveling modern-rock and alternative lifestyle showcase affectionately known as “punk-rock summer camp” boasts a lineup with the perfect mix of veteran bands and newcomers trying to make the most of their first big break.
This year’s festival — which makes a stop Saturday at Cruzan Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach — features perennial top draws Breathe Carolina, Every Time I Die, Cute Is What We Aim For, Mayday Parade, Less Than Jake, The Devil Wears Prada, Of Mice and Men, Saves the Day and dozens more.
But for one of the Warped Tour’s “headline-worthy” bands, this will be its last hurrah. Anberlin, a group from Winter Haven, Florida, that has been churning out alt-rock anthems for the past 12 years, announced earlier this year that its seventh album, Lowborn, which hit the streets Tuesday, would be its last.
“It’s a question between ‘why?’ and ‘wait,’” says lead singer Stephen Christian. “I would much rather people say, ‘Why are they breaking up?’ than ‘Wait, they’re still a band?’”
All humor aside, Christian cites several reasons for Anberlin to break up other than merely wanting to go out on top.
“We’ve literally been doing this for over half our lives now,” he says. “We started in high school, and we’ve been a band for so long that we just wanna see the other side of life, you know? We miss out on all the little things that everybody else seems to take for granted, like birthday parties, or camping, or just being with your family, being with your friends, living a different life. We’ve spent the last 12 years being on the road 200-plus days a year, and after a while it just kind of catches up with you, where you feel like it’s just time.”
Perhaps above all, Christian says, the band doesn’t want to live a lie.
“We were all hit around the same time that our passions lie elsewhere,” he says. “And we felt that going on and continuing with the band would be ripping off the fans because we’d be doing it for every reason but the reason you should be playing music.”
Warped creator and curator Kevin Lyman famously doesn’t let the bands know their set times until the morning of each show, which forces them to wake up at 9 a.m. to find out when they’ll take the stage. But for Christian and his bandmates, it’s not a huge inconvenience.
“I understand why they do it,” he says. “They want all the bands to get exposure, and new bands to have a chance to be listened to by potentially new fans. So it does make sense to me.”
For a vocalist who belts out some crazy high notes, however, it can be tough to warm up if there’s an early set time.
“Yeah, any singer can attest to the fact that singing before noon is a problem,” Christian says. “But the advantage is, you only have to sing for about half an hour a day, so it’s not too taxing, because you definitely don’t play early two days in a row — they switch it up every day.”
Although Anberlin has a new record to promote, fans won’t hear any of it on the Warped Tour. Instead, the group will play fan favorites.
“If I came to Warped and any band just played new stuff before they broke up, I’d be disappointed,” says Christian. “So we’re trying to play a little bit off each album, to make sure the fans feel appreciated and that we’re not trying to shove a new record down their throats. I’d rather give people the experience they’re coming to the Warped Tour to see.”