No Country’s Guide to Nashville Warped Tour 2018: 20 Can’t Miss Performers

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Returning to Nashville for the fifth year in a row, following an extended Music City absence, the long-running Vans Warped Tour, now in its 24th consecutive year (making it the longest running traveling summer fest by a huge margin), is set to make its final cross-country trek this summer, with one final stop at The Fairgrounds Nashville this Tuesday, July 10. Gates for the all ages affair open at 11:00 a.m., with music slated to start shortly thereafter, usually running through the early evening. Tickets are still available online or at the gate (though are VERY close to selling out this year), and, while early bird rates have passed, at $49.99, you’re still averaging less than $1 a band.

While Warped’s lineup is, and has long been, largely aimed at the teenage demographic, the fest has always maintained a fairly eclectic lineup (if not the most diverse one), balancing a healthy crop of long-running acts with a new batch of artists ranging from punk to ska to hardcore to metal to hip hop to EDM to indie and everything in between. Despite hopes from the nostalgic older crowd to see more legacy spots, this year is pretty par for the course, boasting a few ’90s and early ’00s favorites, tons of breakout acts from the last decade, and a healthy crop of young up and comers. To help you navigate the 60-act bill, spread out across six stages, we’ve rounded up our top performers, and ranked the 20 you don’t want to miss. Check out our picks below, and help send Warped Tour out with a bang!

#20: NEKROGOBLIKON

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Mutant White Lightning Stage

Taking a cue from committed costumed metal masters GWAR, LA’s Nekrogoblikon are a melodic death metal band with a goblin-glad hype man (and who largely craft goblin-related songs), who’ve achieved viral fame thanks to their collaborations with Metalocalypse creator Brendon Small. That either sounds like your cup of tea or doesn’t, but personally, we’re all in.

LISTEN | “No One Survives”

WATCH | “Dressed As Goblins” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#19: TATIANA DEMARIA

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Full Sail Stage

English rocker Tatiana DeMaria is best known for fronting TAT, the band she formed in 2003 at age 15, after developing an early affinity for punk rock while growing up in Paris, before returning to her birthplace of London to hone her musical career. Now turning her sights on a solo run, DeMaria brings her polished style and pop-accessible, punk rooted sound to Warped’s intimate Full Sail stage.

LISTEN | “What It Is About You”

WATCH | “Too Much” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#18: PALAYE ROYALE

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owly.fm Stage

Canadian born, Vegas based band of brothers Palaye Royale might not be on your radar if you’re above a certain age, but this promising young group (who formed a decade ago while in their teens) are fast picking up steam. Conjuring an old school flair they call “fashion art rock,” their sound and swagger will seem familiar to fans of ’70s glam, but they’ve smartly crafted their style in a way that meshes with goth-tinged modern punk as well.

LISTEN | “Morning Light”

WATCH | “Mr. Doctor Man” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | SiteFacebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#17: THIS WILD LIFE

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Journeys Right Foot Stage

An acoustic emo and pop rock duo made up  of two former drummers, Southern California’s This Wild Life found surprisingly swift success a few years back, thanks to their earnest, raw writing style. Over three full-lengths in four years, they’ve become a bit more cohesive and fleshed out, but retain that accessible, relatable charm, and are always a solid bet when they appear on Warped.

LISTEN | “History”

WATCH | “Headfirst” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | SiteFacebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#16: DOLL SKIN

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owly.fm Stage

There’s no getting around the fact that Warped Tour is basically a sausage fest, and while that’s always been one of its most frustrating aspects, it’s still great to see great acts like Arizona’s Doll Skin tipping the scale, if ever so slightly. Barely out of high school, the band have been called a “millennial Runaways,” but definitely flex more range with faster punk and even metal tendencies (notably, Megadeth’s David Ellefson has helped guide their career, which is just revving up).

LISTEN | “Persephone”

WATCH | “Let’s Be Honest” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | SiteFacebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#15: WILLIAM RYAN KEY (of Yellowcard)

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Journeys Left Foot Stage

Best known for his two decade stint fronting iconic pop punk group Yellowcard, singer and producer William Ryan Key has, since his group’s disbandment last year, been crafting a new artistic identity, playing with New Found Glory, operating a recording studio in Franklin, composing for film and television, writing comic books, and performing a softer, more intimate solo, acoustic act, with his first EP, Thirteen, released earlier this year.

LISTEN | “Vultures”

WATCH | “Form and Figure” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#14: STATE CHAMPS

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Journeys Left Foot Stage

New York’s State Champs are among the new crop of revivalist pop punks, who, despite their young age, sound like they grew up on a strict diet of New Found Glory, Blink-182, and Yellowcard, much more than the radio-pandering, “neon” pop punk wave that would have been all the rage in their teens. That’s not to say they don’t adopt a modern flair; in fact, they’ve so well perfected a hook-laden pop polish without comprising their energetic, angsty backbone, that they’re well on the way to cementing a legacy as one of the scene’s biggest acts.

LISTEN | “Secrets”

WATCH | “Dead and Gone” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | SiteFacebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#13: BOWLING FOR SOUP

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Journeys Left Foot Stage

In a lesser year, they might have popped up a bit lower on the list, but few bands epitomize Warped Tour (for those of us who were teens in the late ’90s to mid ’00s) quite like Texas pop punk goofballs Bowling for Soup. They’ve made this trek countless times, got swept into the mainstream at pop punk’s height, and even nabbed a Grammy nomination, but have always epitomized Warped’s communal, DIY, screwball spirit. It’s unclear how or when we’ll see them around post-Warped, so one last epic singalong seems mandatory.

LISTEN | “Ohio (Come Back to Texas)”

WATCH | “Girl All the Bad Guys Want” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | SiteFacebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#12: YUNGBLUD

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owly.fm Stage

The press in his native U.K. have been going wild over 19-year-old up and comer Yungblud, and with a brand new debut LP, a song in 13 Reasons Why, and his trek on Warped, Americans are swiftly taking notice too. A poetic, socially charged fusion of punk, indie rock, and alternative hip hop, this rising star is doing something refreshingly unique, and feels like destined to be the latest (maybe last?) “I can’t believe he played Warped Tour” story in a few years.

LISTEN | “I Love You, Will You Marry Me”

WATCH | “Psychotic Kids” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | SiteFacebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#11: KNUCKLE PUCK

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Journeys Left Foot Stage

Hailing from Chicago, Knuckle Puck combine elements of emo and pop punk to forge a sound that has helped them become a buzzy fixture in the scene over the past few years, adopting a more indie and ambitious bent than many of their peers. Part of the pop punk’s organic, much-need course correction, which has seen a talented crop of substantive, emo-derived acts emerge, Knuckle Puck’s two excellent full-lengths have set them in a class of their own, and several years on the road has a live show honed to match.

LISTEN | “No Good”

WATCH | “Want Me Around” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | SiteFacebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#10: SLEEP ON IT

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owly.fm Stage

With an accessible, seasoned sound, Sleep On It are fast becoming one of the most exciting pop punk bands in the Chicago scene, and with their debut full-length, last fall’s Overexposed, really flexed their range with their strongest, most cohesive effort to date. They make it to Nashville semi-regularly and are always a blast- for a fresh dose of the best of what’s next, this band are a must-see.

LISTEN | “Fireworks” ft. Derek Discanio

WATCH | “See You Around” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#9: CHASE ATLANTIC

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owly.fm Stage

Made up of brothers Mitchel and Clinton Cave and longtime friend Christian Anthony, Australian dark alt-pop/r&b trio Chase Atlantic have been building buzz for a few years now, finding breakout success across the native continent and earning praise throughout the blogosphere with a series of strong, independent early EPs. After first catching the eye of the Madden Brothers (of Good Charlotte fame) then subsequently inking a deal with Warner Bros., the band dropped their eponymous debut full-length last year, and have been fast becoming a global fixture ever since.

LISTEN | “Swim”

WATCH | “Numb to the Feeling” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#8: SENSES FAIL

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Mutant White Lightning Stage

Few bands in the scene have had as exciting a second act as New Jersey post-hardcore outfit Senses Fail, who originally rose to acclaim with their beloved 2004 Let It Enfold You. More recent years have seen lineup shifts, experiments and sound, a fiercely independent focus, and, most significantly, the emergence of singer Buddy Nielsen as a champion for inclusivity and accountability within the punk scene. New LP If There Is a Light, It Will Find You also happens to rip, so be sure to revisit this long-standing Warped fave.

LISTEN | “If There Is a Light, It Will Find You”

WATCH | “Buried a Lie” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | SiteFacebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#7: REAL FRIENDS

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Journeys Right Foot Stage

For the last several years, pop punk has seen something of a sonic and philosophical course correction, moving away from the reactionary scene that sprung up after the style became all the commercial rage in the ’00s, and moving back towards the rawer, faster, more punk rooted approach that ruled the ’90s and early ’00s. Like Knuckle Puck, State Champs, and more, Real Friends are part of this refreshing new wave, and perhaps best nail the sound, earnestness, energy, and feel of favorites like The Starting Line, Taking Back Sunday, and New Found Glory.

LISTEN | “I’ve Given Up On You”

WATCH | “From the Outside” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#6: REEL BIG FISH

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Journeys Left Foot Stage

Though the popularity of ska at the mass-cultural and commercial radio level has all but faded away, a few lingering bastions of the third wave, ’90s ska punk movement still remain, and Reel Big Fish are inarguably one of the most influential and enduring. With hits like “Sell Out” and “Beer” considered something of modern classics, the legendary band, and long-running regular Warped performers, are still doing their part to give you a reason to strap on those checkered Vans, plaid pants, and suspenders, and get to skanking.

LISTEN | “Sell Out”

WATCH | “Take On Me” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#5: MOVEMENTS

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Journeys Right Foot Stage

Formed just three years ago in Southern California, Movements have swiftly become one of our favorite new acts in the underground punk scene. Adopting a raw, resonant, post-hardcore style with elements of emo and spoken word akin to groups like mewithoutYou and Balance & Composure, the band’s sophisticated and earnest aesthetic feels almost out of place at a fest that prefers flashier, pulpier, more populist-geared acts (we wish this side of the scene had won in the battle of popular opinion). You won’t see us complaining though- don’t miss this exciting new act.

LISTEN | “Kept”

WATCH | “Daylily” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | SiteFacebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#4: SIMPLE PLAN

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Journeys Right Foot Stage

16 years ago, Canadian pop punks Simple Plan erupted to international fame, thanks to their infectiously catchy and well-timed debut, No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls, which hit right at the moment pop punk was about to become the dominant force in rock for a few years. The band have continued to maintain respectable success and release new music, four more albums in total, maturing along the way, and have once again become a Warped fixture in recent years, after springing from the tour in the early days. If you were an angsty teen in the early ’00s, their set will be a nostalgic sendoff for this long-running tour.

LISTEN | “Your Love Is a Lie”

WATCH | “I’d Do Anything” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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3: EVERY TIME I DIE

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Mutant White Lightning Stage

Heavy music is a huge an integral part of Warped’s makeup and popularity, but you’ll notice that our list doesn’t include much in the way of metalcore; we dig metal and hardcore, but the modern, track-laden, gimmicky metalcore movement that has become so popular with the Warped crowd just doesn’t do it for us. That said, one of Warped’s OG metalcore bands, Every Time I Die will forever be our go-to to show the kids how it’s done, and with timeless modern classics like Gutter Phenomenon and New Junk Aesthetic, they remain our preeminent southern-tinged, math-y, metalcore heroes.

LISTEN | “Wanderlust”

WATCH | “Map Change” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#2: THE MAINE

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Journeys Right Foot Stage

We’ve written about The Maine on a handful of occasions, and have always remarked at their ability to mature, transform, and evolve, finding a way to stay anchored to their roots, without feeling beholden to the scene’s confines and sonic cues. Slowly shedding their sugary pop punk beginnings, the band took a raw rock then anthemic, unabashedly nostalgic  alternative turn on recent releases. Not only one of the pop punk world’s most talented groups, The Maine are also one of its nicest, maintaining a humble, respectable, and accessible relationship with their fans amidst an increasingly exploitative scene.

LISTEN | “Happy”

WATCH | “How Do You Feel?” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#1: THE USED

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Journeys Left Foot Stage

Since breaking out with their angsty, eponymous 2002 effort then cementing their status with 2004 followup In Love and Death, The Used have proven an enduring act with surprising range, finding an alt rock bent on more recent work, without abandoning the intensity or passion that made them so beloved. Hailing originally from Utah, the band found fame while touring on Warped in the early ’00s, and are one of the longest-running groups to consistently return to the tour by choice rather than necessity. If, like us, you have fond memories of seeing them in the old days, then you’ll without a doubt want to make them an essential part of Warped Tour’s final run.

LISTEN | “The Taste of Ink”

WATCH | “Over and Over Again” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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