Album review: Wormrot – Hiss
Singaporean grindcore heroes Wormrot make an inventively blistering return…
As punk and metal were proving themselves commercially viable in the mid-1990s, something came to prominence that we now take for granted: the package tour. The idea of having a stacked bill of bands travel the country like a mini (or even major) festival didn’t really exist before Warped Tour and Ozzfest, but once those two saw immense success it spurred a whole movement of similarly ambitious mobile music fests.
Unfortunately, Warped Tour and Ozzfest don’t even exist today in the form they once did, and rock-oriented package tours on a whole are struggling to sustain themselves. Instead, standalone festivals seem to be the current model for showcasing the genre’s titans all on one stage. But it's important to look back and remember some of the fallen package tours that popped up in the late ’90s and ’00s, and either sunk immediately or had really successful runs for many years.
From pop-punk galas to rap-metal pageants, these are 10 package tours you might not remember...
When metalcore was dominating Warped Tour in the early 2010s, a small cottage industry of B-rate metalcore tours briefly emerged to lap up the leftovers. The All Stars Tour was one of the most successful of these, blatantly comprised of all the metalcore and deathcore bands who didn’t make it onto Warped or Mayhem Fest that year. Its 2011 inauguration featured Emmure, Alesana, Blessthefall, Motionless In White, In This Moment, and then-fledgling acts like Sleeping With Sirens and Attila. The next year featured Suicide Silence, The Word Alive, I See Stars and 16 others. But by 2013 the line-up was noticeably skimpier, and its All Stars' 2015 finale was a mere handful of washed-up deathcore acts and no-name metalcore guppies. It was more like the Minor Leagues Tour at that point.
In the 2010s, the Honda Civic Tour became just another Top 40 pop circus for names like One Direction, Charlie Puth, Nick Jonas and, God help us, OneRepublic. But back in the ’00s this annual tour was an institution for pop-punk and emo bands. blink-182, New Found Glory, Dashboard Confessional, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco and Paramore were headliners throughout the decade. In 2011 the tour reached its peak with a blink-182/My Chemical Romance co-headliner that also featured Against Me!, Manchester Orchestra and Rancid as openers. Although its last edition was in 2018, the official website claims that the next one is in development. Who knows, with MCR back maybe we’ll get a repeat of that legendary 2011 bill.
Uproar Festival was produced by Taste Of Chaos co-creator John Reese, a longtime friend and business partner of Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman, as an alternative to Mayhem Festival. Uproar was also sponsored by Rockstar Energy Drink and consisted of the same format: one or two smaller stages and a main stage. But while Mayhem and Uproar had similar crossover at the beginning (both featured Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet For My Valentine), Uproar Festival was geared more toward hard rock and radio rock bands. Alice In Chains, Godsmack, Jane’s Addiction, P.O.D., Shinedown, and Three Days Grace performed during its five-year run from 2010 to 2014, but the tour never caught on the way Mayhem Festival did, and finally dissolved.
The Anger Management Tour was essentially Eminem seeing what Korn were doing with The Family Values Tour and saying, “Hold my beer.” Founded in 2000 by Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach and Eminem, the idea for Anger Management was pretty much to maximize the rap-rock hybrid that was dominating airwaves at the time, without Family Values' dark psychology at the forefront. The first run featured those three along with Xzibit and DMX, and its 2002 edition swapped Limp Bizkit for D12, Ludacris and Obie Trice. It was a worldwide tour so certain stops included the likes of Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Godsmack and Rammstein, but by its final iteration in 2005, it was overtaken by Eminem and consisted solely of rappers.
Poster designed by Mike Martin
SnoCore was to snowboarding what Warped Tour was to skating. The U.S. tour ran consistently from 1996 to 2010, and then sporadically throughout the ’10s, as a winter analog to the punk rock summer camp. In between sets, there would be big screens blasting footage of people snowboarding and skiing, and many of the dates were intentionally hosted in mountain resort towns. Its early days were comprised of ska and pop-punk bands like Sublime, blink-182 and Less Than Jake, but throughout the 2000s it opened itself up to metal acts like System of A Down, Fear Factory, and Helmet. Although it succumbed to the buttrock trend of the mid-2000s (Trapt, Seether and Chevelle were headliners), the tour did make an effort to include weirder bands over the years like Primus, glassjaw, and Mr. Bungle. It even featured an additional stage in 2001 and 2002 called Icicle Ball that included neo-jazz, R&B, hip-hop and electronic acts.
The Scream It Like You Mean It Tour was another short-lived metalcore package, similar to the All Stars Tour -- except this one attempted to expand beyond the U.S. and into Europe. After launching in 2010 with a modest summer run of eight bands including Silverstein and We Came As Romans, the 2011 edition featured 21 dates in Europe and 37 U.S. dates. In 2012 they scrapped the overseas idea and carried out a gargantuan 49-date run across the U.S. with 18 bands: Attack Attack!, The Acacia Strain, Woe, Is Me and many others partook. Unfortunately, this one was also clearly unsustainable, as its 2013 edition featured just seven bands and had the largely irrelevant emo-rock act Story Of The Year headlining over Like Moths To Flames. A valiant effort.
If you think nostalgia tours are unique to metal in the present day, think again. The Rock Never Stops Tour aimed to replicate the Ozzfest model by appealing exclusively to aging headbangers. Its 1998 inception featured such dollar bin staples as Quiet Riot, Warrant, L.A. Guns and Slaughter. The idea was obviously to lump together hair metal bands who were swatted from the mainstream by nu-metal, but who still had a dedicated following throughout America. Other iterations of the annual tour featured Night Ranger, Sebastian Bach, Tesla, Whitesnake, Skid Row and, for some reason Ted Nugent, before it fizzled out in 2005.
In theory, a tour that attempts to unite tattoo artists and metal bands makes a lot of sense. But for whatever reason, the extremely ambitious Tattoo The Earth tour only made it through one-and-a-half summers before it concluded in 2002. The sprawling bill featured 34 bands, including icons like Slayer, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Sepultura; nu-metal acts like Mudvayne and Sevendust; metalcore crushers like Lamb Of God, All That Remains and Unearth; and hardcore bands like Hatebreed, Converge and Sick of It All -- plus 42 tattoo artists! The monstrous line-up was perhaps too big to maintain, because after its 18-date run in 2000 it only returned for three stops in 2001 and a scattered nine in 2002. In fairness, the equivalent of a traveling Download Festival sounds overambitious, no many how many tattoos people get in the meantime.
Whereas many of these package tours catered to a specific genre or scene, MTV’s Campus Invasion Tour demographic was simply 'college kids.' The annual (and sometimes bi-annual) tour launched in 1998 with Third Eye Blind and Eve 6 as headliners, but its spring 1999 edition paired radio-rockers Sugar Ray with the industrial metal band Orgy. Other bizarre co-headliners throughout its 13-ish year run (there’s very little information about this tour’s apparent fall-off in the early 2010s) were Bush and Moby (2000), Saliva and Sum 41 (2001), rapper Fabolous and The Used (2003) and its 2008 festival off-shoot that paired the likes of All Time Low, Simple Plan and Cobra Starship with Wyclef Jean and Flo Rida. You gotta respect their total aversion to genre boundaries.
If OG metalheads thought the nu-metal era was a threat to everything the genre stood for in the ’80s, then the Scream the Prayer Tour must’ve been a nightmare. This U.S. package was an explicitly Chrisitan metalcore tour that consisted solely of holy headbangers. It ran from 2008 to 2013 and most of the dates went down in Southern and Midwest states where Christian metalcore, hardcore and deathcore bands were thriving in the mid-2000s and early 2010s. Norma Jean, The Chariot, Haste The Day, Impending Doom, For Today, Gideon -- that sort of thing. Amazingly, of all the now-defunct metalcore tours from that era, this one had the longest run (six years) and the most consistent line-up before it ended after poor attendance in its final year.
Singaporean grindcore heroes Wormrot make an inventively blistering return…
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