HOLMDEL, N.J. (PIX11) — Thousands of music lovers braved the heat to watch their favorite bands at Vans Warped Tour in Holmdel on Sunday.
Vans Warped Tour began in 1995 as a perfect pairing between skateboarding and music.
The music festival has been a staple in summer concerts since then, hitting cities all over the United States and Canada.
Two decades later, the festival has shifted from being solely punk and ska bands into featuring a wide variety of artists.
The tour stopped in Holmdel, N.J., bringing nearly 10,000 people to the PNC Bank Arts Center.
For the 20th anniversary, Warped Tour officials announced the return of the Shiragirl Stage, featuring female artists and female-led bands.
The stage is named after artist Shiragirl, an Oradell, N.J. native.
Appearing in only a few cities during the tour, the Shiragirl has hosted artists like Joan Jett and Paramore.
This year, the stage held several local New Jersey artists, including rapper/songwriter Justina Valentine.
Conquer Entertainment, a company that helps artists monetize and grow their social media platforms, reached out to the Paterson native about performing on the Shiragirl Stage.
“When they told me this year that they were going to be doing their own stage and it was going to be all female fronted I was really excited,” said Valentine.
Valentine had played at Warped Tour two years ago and says it’s awesome to play in New Jersey.
“Our friends get to come out and see us,” said Valentine. “It’s a great way to start, in our home state.”
For guitarist Randy Haze, the venue has a special meaning.
Over the years, the Newark native says it’s where he’s seen several of his favorite bands.
“To play PNC is a real honor,” said Haze.
Holmdel is the first of three stops on Warped Tour for Valentine.
Shiragirl Stage hosted multiple artists from the New Jersey area.
“It’s cool to see local bands at Warped Tour, to support the scene,” said Rachel Lipton.
For bands like Chelsea Grin, Sunday’s show was just a little under the halfway mark of the tour.
“This is our second year doing it and we couldn’t be anymore stoked,” said Chelsea Grin singer Alex Koehler. “We’d do it 100 more times if we could.”
Koehler says New Jersey has been one of the best markets for the band since they began.
Before Chelsea Grin began their set, a huge mosh pit had already been created.
“Having there already be a pit when we walked on stage, I don’t think that had happened yet on one of the Warped shows,” said Chelsea Grin guitarist Dan Jones. “It was really exciting to see.”
After Chelsea Grin’s set on the Kia Soul Stage, Warped Tour veterans Finch took the stage.
The band who took the post-hardcore world by storm with their 2003 album “What it is to Burn,” reunited to nearly the original lineup for the 10 year anniversary tour of the album.
Finch’s original manager brought up the idea of the What it is to Burn reunion tour.
“It took some convincing but we all ended up doing it,” said Finch bassist Daniel Wonacott. “It’s one of the best decisions I think we’ve ever made as a band.”
The tour helped reconnect the band and give them a new perspective on what they were doing.
Finch broke up in 2010 due to creative differences within the band.
After reuniting in 2013, Finch has embarked on an anniversary tour and half of Warped Tour.
In June the band announced their third album “Back to Oblivion” would be released in September, 2014.
“Back to Oblivion” is Finch’s first album in nine years.
“I think that’s some sort of record,” joked guitarist Alex Linares.
The band gave fans a sample of the new album with songs “Back to Oblivion” and “Picasso Trigger.”
As a welcome back to the festival circuit, fans are excited to see Finch return. “We’ve seen people walking around and they’re happy we’re here,” said Wonacott. “We love it, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.