It's the 20th anniversary of the Vans Warped Tour and the event is celebrating with 43 tour stops, including a new one in Anchorage, Alaska, event founder Kevin Lyman said during the pre-party event in Los Angeles in April. There are more than 100 performers on the bill and almost all of them are coming to the traveling festival's date at the Fairplex in Pomona June 20.
Music fans can get an earful of diversity with punk, pop, rock, acoustic, electronica and even rap with acts, such as Anberlin, Bayside, Brian Marquis, Chelsea Grin, Echosmith, Emilie Autumn, Mayday Parade, The Devil Wears Prada, The Maine, This Wild Life and Yellowcard. Pomona attendees can also catch the homegrown gritty rock grooves of Plague Vendor from Whittier.
Plague Vendor, vocalist Brandon Blaine, guitarist Jay Rodgers, bassist Michael Perez and drummer Luke Perine, was founded in 2008. The four members were friends in high school, who went on to play in different bands for a few years before realizing they had good chemistry together. It's taken some time to get things going, but Plague Vendor signed to Epitaph Records in March 2014 and released its debut effort, “Free To Eat,” in April 2014.
“It's not polished. It's raw compared to a lot of stuff being recorded today in the studio and it's 17 minutes long,” Rodgers said.
“It's an album where there's a lot of emphasis on the lyrical content. There's a lot of bands that have a lot of reverb on the vocals and you can't really hear their lyrics, so there's no story,” Perine added.
Rodgers brings in many of the riffs that spark the band's songs, which are then written corroboratively with Blaine providing the lyrics and each track on “Free to Eat” tells a different dark tale.
Performing is easy for Blaine, who has sung and danced since he was a child. Rodgers is perhaps the most musical of the group, playing not only guitar, but bass, piano and drums.
Perine began playing percussion in sixth grade band at East Whittier Middle School and, by high school, he was hitting the rock scene. Perez, the late bloomer of the group, was grounded during his early high school years and passed the time learning how to play his sister's guitar. Perez then moved on to bass and never looked back.
Plague Vendor has been successful at getting on the music industry's radar. In addition to being embraced by Epitaph, they were named one of the “100 Bands You Need to Know” by Alternative Press in 2014. Vans Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman, noted for his ability to spot talent, caught them in action at the Epicenter Festival in Irvine in 2013 and was quick to sign the quartet on for the 2014 outing.
Plague Vendor is busy promoting “Free to Eat,” but is already working on new material and it's not uncommon for them to create a song on stage, especially if the band is out of tunes and fans are yelling for more.
“We've written songs at the end of our set to keep playing when we have no more songs,” Rodgers said.
”I usually don't finish my lyrics until the very last minute, but I'll have a vocal melody and story in mind, so when we play live — we play live more than we rehearse — we write and it's better when stuff comes in the heat of playing,” Blaine said.
VANS WARPED TOUR
What: Plague Vendor joins more than 90 bands on Vans Warped Tour.
When: 11 a.m. June 20.
Where: Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona.