Sunday, June 15, 2014

Photo Album: Warped Tour San Antonio with Motionless In White

General Summary: Vans Warped Tour San Antonio

The Van's Warped Tour kicked of on Friday the Thirteenth in Houston, Texas, then favored San Antonio as its succeeding tour date yesterday June 14, hosted by the AT&T Center. The sun held off from making a total appearance until roughly 2:15--ya know, just as my new metal music interest took the Kia Soul stage. Then it beat down on the hundreds of bodies gathered in front of the stage, turning us all into a writhing, moshing, sweating pit of stink and good-natured swearing. It was humid, and described by Motionless In White front-man Chris Cerruli as, "vile". No one disagreed. 

Attendance (with the exception of the main stages) was shoddy, I feel, for a music festival that size. My home town was already being wracked by a Spurs NBA championship finals winning streak, Father's Day Weekend, and the Alamo City Tattoo Expo, which may account for the somewhat small-ish crowd. I expected a great deal more from Warped Tour attendance, and despite the disclaimer that Warped Tour attendees were allowed to bring their moms into the park for free, somewhat overestimated the age-range. I think The Protomen did too, a little. They received little or no response for their "Only the Good Die Young" cover of legendary Iron Maiden--which just happens to be off of my favorite album of their's. I will be 29 next week. The best friend that attended with me is pushing 32. As some of the oldest people in attendance without children, we were almost bored.
The Protomen covering "Only the Good Die Young"

Some of the indie bands my friend had never heard of. Some of the metal bands I had never heard of--probably because they were unimpressive. Devil Wears Prada and The Protomen top the list of heretofore unheard of metal bands with any kind of stage presence or distinguishable sound. Air Dubai kicked a little ass early in the afternoon, reminding me of Outkast and wowing the crowd with a swirling mix of vocals and hip-hop with their second to last song, "Soul and Body". The Protomen recall their listeners to eighties hair metal, and their cover of "Only the Good Die Young" was spot on, which brought me running from behind the Pizza Hut truck halfway across the festival grounds. Punk band Yellowcard drew a sizable crowd, as did Mayday Parade.

Air Dubai

Motionless In White: Hell-Raising at Its Finest

Warning: adult language in this post. Don't like it; don't read it.

Set List (as far as I can remember)

Devil's Night
Puppets II
Black Damask
Immaculate Misconception

The band takes the stage. Chris Motionless, left.
Ryan Sitkowski, right. 
Motionless In White took the main stage at 2:15. The crowd amassed during Yellowcard and never left. My friend and I shoulder and muscled our way nearly to the front. From my vantage point, I could see center stage clearly. I knew this would be important when all the hands went up. Despite the "No Mosh" signs, I knew there would be a little jostling. I was unprepared for the "jostle" that was to follow, and honestly that was my fault. Naive? Nah, I'm just old. When was the last time I was in the pit at a show where I was actually in front? Green Day? Not a metal band. Korn? Hell no; you couldn't fight your way through those guys at Family Values to save your life and that was over six years ago. Moshing close to security would have been stupid, so the mosh pit started behind us, pushing us all forward while security pushed us back. It was awesome! All the oxygen in the world was gone, replaced with the sweat of the masses. All humanity never smelled so foul, and it was possibly the most incensing smell I've ever endured. It did not diminish the show; the stink intensified the atmosphere MIW emanated. I had sweated through my clothes in minutes. 

All hail the new metal gods! Chris Motionless, Center, Ricky Horror, left.
Ryan Sitkowski, right. I think that's Vinny Mauro on drums. 
As the band took the stage, I lost my mind--as was our wont. I have since been corrected at the drummer for this tour (and Reincarnate) is Vinny Mauro. I was wondering who would drum for MIW for Warped Tour after the announcement in April that Brandon Richter had stepped down from drums for Reincarnate. Unfortunately, my position left me unable to capture the band as a whole. Behind Ryan Sitkowski was Devin "Ghost" Sola, and directly to stage right of Ricky Horror was Josh Balz sporting very Empirical Sith raiment. Ryan Sitkowski appears to have "sewn" his lips shut to complete his image, and remained in character the entire time.  *Sigh* Ricky...

I must have sounded like some screaming boy-band-crazy psycho. Clearly I mistook these guys for Justin Bieber? No, you should have seen me crying when Iron Maiden did "Fear of the Dark" in 2011. The girl next to me/in front of me/on top of me seemed a bit disturbed, but not one single fuck was given.    

Another attempt to capture the whole band. Chris Motionless, center. Devin "Ghost" Sola, center-right.
Ryan Sitkowski, right. Partial of Ricky Horror, left. 
The set list was amazing. They played most of my favorite songs. "Abigal" I could take or leave. The fact that they played "Devil's Night" almost immediately was exciting and harrowing at the same time. We jumped, we swore, we raised our hands, and our middle fingers. Crowd surfers were being plucked up by security (wonder how MIW felt about that--it very much looked like they didn't care, which is fine. A low key song like "Sinematic" might have slowed things down, but then where's the fun in that?). Eventually people began to leave when they realized what they were up against. Many of the smaller girls left, as well as a man with his son. Should I have left? I am small. Fuck no, use me as debris to hurl at the stage. Hello Chris! Hello Ricky!

Head banging for "Puppets II"  
Such an amazing song selection! I can't get over it. 

"We may be losers but you can't kill all of us!" 
The song that literally had me ripping my vocal cords was "AMERICA" off of Infamous. I would have been severely disappointed if they had not played that. Chris turned around and raised his left arm in salute, spelling out "A-M-E-R-I-C-A". I was unable to capture any pictures of it, as I was a little too busy being insane. I want to thank MIW for playing it, though, as I have some amazing memories of it. The mosh pit behind us renewed its vigor, pushing us forward. I didn't have much of a view of the stage for "AMERICA". However, I could hear myself screaming over the others in the crowd. Air was hard to come by. It was jump or die, and I was glad to do it. My friend had to grab me before we got separated. One girl lost her glasses. I was practically on people's shoulders, jumping though my feet did not touch the ground. 

Almost a whole pic of the band. From right to left: Josh Balz behind the keyboard,
Ricky Horror with his back turned, Chris Motionless getting it on with the mic,
Vinny Mauro tearing up the drums, Ghost Sola bringin it hard, and barely
visible is Ryan Sitkowski. Did I mention this entire band is hot?

The band's stage presence was some of the best I have ever seen at a festival concert where there was no real headliner. The second best headliner I have ever seen was Korn at Family Values, with Jonathan Davis coming onto the stage playing the bagpipes for "Chutes and Ladders"

So much swagger on that stage, it was soul-shattering! 

Chris Cerruli owned that stage. My friend tells me Ryan was spitting on the crowd. I didn't see it so my only response was, "It happens." 

Chris Motionless coaching the crowd for "Reincarnate"
Reincarnate is set to hit stores September 16, 2014. However, a small clip was released Friday June 13 with only the chorus. You would be surprised at the number of people who remembered the lyrics, including your's truly. Chris wanted a call-and-response, and coached us on the cues and timing. Trying to get us to scream "You make me fucking sick" in time reminded me that Chris Cerulli is an excellent guitarist and musician. The Instagram clips in which he sings and play acoustic will make you cry--or not. I defy even the most hard-core RPers to say they loved that more than me. Cerulli has no problem working the crowd and making us laugh at ourselves, "I've seen some of you clapping. I know a lot of you can't keep time--that's okay." Some video of "Reincarnate" was briefly on YouTube, but has since been removed. I guess until September, all we have left to remember is our memories of how Chris Motionless and the gang wrenched the last of our breath from our chests and the last of our hydration as tears fell from the eyes of fans and Nerd alike. I probably would have been more emotionally invested in the show had I been on my own. Still, nothing could quell the wonderful feeling of being one of the first groups of people to hear MIW play the title track off of their new album. At one point, I think I even made eye-contact with Chris, but that could have been the adrenaline and wishful thinking. It certainly felt like it. I caught him at a rare moment of total visibility somewhere over on stage-right, slightly bent at the waste during the chorus.

"Crawling from Hell...fallen from Grace...and there is nothing left to take..."

Finally a good picture of josh. For some reason, I cold never catch Ricky looking at the crowd.

Ryan and Ghost also have amazing stage presence. Chris banging his head for "Black Damask"
The band wrapped up the set with "Immaculate Misconception", my absolute favorite song from Motionless In White. I considered my life complete when Chris began with, "What the Fuuuuuuck!" More tears and screaming as we were prompted to join the band with "Open your mind before your mouth!" and the chorus.

"If all the words you say ever meant anything,
I'd take back all the lies against you that I sing..."

For me, this was the defining moment of the show. It was nearly impossible to see over the hands and phones that had become cameras, but the entire band banged their heads in unison, similar to the music video for this song, stomping their feet, the anger and resentment of the song captured on stage. 

Ryan showing us his stuff. Another good picture of Josh, only now we can't see Ghost.
The magnitude of the very short show on the very small center stage struck me like nothing else. MIW very much hold their own on stage like the seasoned musicians and tour-gods they are. It was incredible to see them all in action, to hear and see them in person, and to have my fondest wishes for this show come to pass. I was disappointed not to hear "Divine Infection", but I suppose a band must draw the line between us losing our fucking minds and the people in the crowd slaughtering each other in a heavy metal massacre. Nope. Won't put that evil on them. 

I was fortunate to be so close, and despite the fact that I've seen pictures of these guys a hundred times, it was as if I was seeing them for the first time--but it was also as if they were like six of my oldest friends stepping onto to the stage. Josh's band pictures make him look older than he is. Every single one of them is particularly handsome, young and up-and-coming. I expect great things from Brandon Richter going forward, and wish Vinny Mauro the best as he tours with this amazing band. If I ever see MIW again (which is a must), then I think I'll sit. Age and infirmity protect me from shame. 

The band is not big on fronting on social media. The band's works, and the fans, speak for themselves (plus they're all super busy), but you can find all of the band members on Twitter, and Chris Motionless on Instagram, as well as the offical MIW Twitter feed and Facebook page--just watch out for the fake pages the RPers host. They have a nasty habit of throwing people off. If you suddenly find yourself being invited to Chris and Ricky's wedding, you may have to ask yourself if you're following the right person. 

The best metal band of the decade. I look forward to when we meet again in September. 

One of my favorite promotional pictures from Infamous
Edit 06/17/2014: I went back and corrected all the places where I spelled Ryan's last name wrong. Sorry, man. 

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