Written by Rory Shield
I would consider my first Warped Tour memorable for a bunch of reasons: I went by myself, I met and watched two of my favorite bands at the time, I almost passed out while seeing The Story So Far, it was the first New Orleans date in fifteen years, etc. That being said, the part that sticks out to me the most to this day is meeting Joe Taylor from Knuckle Puck by chance and what took place afterwards.
I think everyone who knows me personally has heard this story, fan of the music or otherwise. I tell it like once a month and it’s been like a year and a half. It’s still like, the best experience I’ve had in the scene to this day.
Okay, so I got super duper lucky my first Warped. I only had one conflict of times in my entire schedule. I could either meet Knuckle Puck or be up close to see Waterparks. I chose Waterparks because they were my favorite band at the time. I don’t regret it, they’re super talented dudes. Anyway, I was kind of bummed I had to miss meeting the Knuckle Puck boys and I was kind of hoping that they’d still be by their tent after the Parx set, but I didn’t get that lucky. However, on my way to their tent to check I ran into Joe.
I really don’t know how I managed to have a semi-calm conversation with him and take a decent selfie, but man, am I thankful. The conversation quickly turned to me rambling on about how important their song “Pretense” is to me. To this day, I could probably write an essay about how much that song has helped me. It’s just one of those songs that hits the nail on the head for me. I was pumped I even got to speak to him about it. I almost definitely overshared, though. Sorry Joe.
Fast forward like four or five hours later, The Story So Far’s set just ended and I’m at the barricade. There’s like a swarm of people trying to get to the front because they want to see Sleeping With Sirens. Knuckle Puck was the last band on my list to see for the day, playing on the other side of the venue at 8:30 PM. I had time, I really did, but I was so focused on getting to be barricade for that show that I was literally yelling like “PLEASE MOVE! I HAVE TO GO SEE KNUCKLE PUCK! SORRY!” I’d like to issue a very late apology to everyone I shoved past, especially the startled looking girl in the Sleeping With Sirens shirt. I was really excited, and it worked out really well for me. I got to be center barricade to see them perform and I’d literally never gotten center barricade before. It was sick.
To be honest, most of the set was a blur because I was jumping and screaming like the entire time. I’d gotten my second wind during TSSF so I was going hard. The part of the set that is still vivid in my mind is when they played “Pretense.” Joe got up in the crowd during the song, and by “up in the crowd,” I actually mean “up in my face.” I got to scream the lyrics to one of my favorite songs ever back in the vocalist’s face. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that. Joe Taylor and I yelled lyrics at each other. Honestly, I don’t even have like solid proof that he remembered me, it could’ve just been chance, but let me dream, okay? It was still the coolest thing that has happened to me ever.
“Letting someone know that a song they wrote about such a tough topic to talk about made you feel less alone feels good.”
The set ended, but I still really wanted to thank Nick Casasanto, one of their guitarists, because he’s the one that actually wrote most of the song. I normally have pretty bad anxiety, but I was still like on cloud nine after the whole yelling thing so I just yelled like “Hey Nick!” and thankfully he heard me. He was still on stage, but I still got to thank him and shake his hand and that was really nice. It just feels really good, you know? Letting someone know that a song they wrote about such a tough topic to talk about made you feel less alone feels good. Knuckle Puck has a few other songs out now that are about similar things, but Pretense still hits home the most for me. I kept thinking the day couldn’t get any better and it did.
I left the set with bruises on my knees from being pushed against the barricade and one of Kevin Maida’s picks. Thanks Mardi Gras World security guard who made me like haggle for it even though no one else was around. It remains my favorite set that I’ve ever seen. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it and I really hope I don’t. It was one of those moments that really further cemented my desire to be more of a part of the scene. Knuckle Puck forever.