bands like Flogging Molly and NOFX
Personally, I had been to only a mere two Warped Tours before I made my exodus to Randall's Island New York City on August 10th for my third show. Little did I know when I showed up that this was going to be very different from my previous two shows. Reason number one: location. Randall's Island was not my usual choice for Warped Tour; my two previous shows had been at Suffolk Downs in Massachusetts. Reason number two: Rockzone hooked me up with press passes making my day a completely different experience than that of normal concert goers.
After fighting my way through NYC traffic and being proud of myself for not getting lost I had finally made it to the show. Unfortunately, I had arrived a little late, and even though I had shown up only a mere hour and ten minutes after the first band went on stage, I had already missed, by my count, seventeen bands. This is one problem I will touch on later, but I wasn't thinking about that at this point since I had made it in time to see Flogging Molly on one of the main stages (called oddly, The Brain Stage). As the band took the stage I quickly made my way into the pit, not really noticing that everyone in the crowd had either painter's or surgical masks on, or bandanas covering their nose and mouth. Flogging Molly opened their set with the first song off their most recent album, "Drunken Lullabies," and I quickly learned why everyone had the masks on. A massive cloud of dust arose from beneath the feet of those in the pit and made its way about forty to fifty feet in the air. I quickly made my way out of the pit and purchased a painter's mask from a kid walking by. I must say the set sounded good, and the crowd appeared to love the band, however I couldn't see a damn thing since the dust blocked the crowd's view of the stage. Flogging Molly blew through their thirty minutes with old and new songs like "Rebels of the Sacred Heart" and "Salty Dog". If the amount of enjoyment of the crowd was measured by the size of the dust cloud created, Flogging Molly ruled the day.
The band finally left the stage and the dust finally settled and I made my way to the free water spurting out of the pool water trucks (free water is always a nice touch at a show like this.) I spent the next hour or so perusing around checking out the venue and some of the booths Warped Tour was sporting this year. Two of my favorite booths were the disturbing moviemaker's Troma with their School bus; the speed drumming tent, where participants drummed against each other to see how many notes they could get in a minute.
After my mini exploration I went to catch a little bit of the set from one of ska's onehitwonders, Reel Big Fish. Now, the last time I saw these guys they made me want to take a nap in the middle of their set, deciding to play a more ska focused set, but this time around they focused more on their revved up tracks. Two of their older highlights were "Beer" and the predictably set ending song (as well as ironic on so many levels), "Sellout". The crowd seemed to be into it, or at least faking it really good, so the set wasn't a complete loss. I'm pretty sure RBF knows that their new albums, of which they continually release about one a year, are never really going to catch on, and they are OK with that. They are just playing because it's fun, and I give them credit for that. However, there usually comes a point when you should stop and try and move on, and that hook is slowly approaching this fish.
After RBF's set, my day started to get really interesting, thanks completely to Rockzone. At about 3 o'clock I headed over to the press area and had the pleasure of interviewing Bostonian legend, Dicky Barrett, from the Mighty Might Bosstones, but that's a whole other article (and link).
After my first interview ever was completed, and I hadn't made a complete ass out of myself, I was feeling pretty good about the day. The only problem I was encountering at this point was that the interview had taken a little longer than anticipated, and after examining the list of set times, I realized I had missed about 40 bands and it wasn't even 4 o'clock yet. This is when I truly realized one of Warped Tours biggest drawbacks this year: too many bands. Some of you may read that and say, "How can you have too many bands?" Well my oblivious friend, if you have too many larger bands playing, then the smaller, less established bands get neglected, and no one gets to hear their music. I found it completely ridiculous that I was going to miss so many bands on so many different stages because the main stages had bands I wanted to watch or take pictures of. Granted, the business side of this dilemma is understandable. Some kid who is willing to drop the $32.50 (not including S&H and possible convenience charge) to see Death by Stereo probably won't spend the same amount of money (or any at all) to see New Found Glory. Last I checked though, punk music wasn't really about making money, it was about the music. But I'm pretty sure it has been at least 12 years since I checked.
Anyway, I digress, a lot. I caught the very last song of punk veterans, The Damned, and moseyed over to the Teal Stage (I'd really love to have a word with whatever jackass named these stages) to check out neo-neo-neo-punk heroes Alkaline Trio, or AK3 as I like to abbreviate. I have to admit my main reason for watching was to photograph them since I'm not what you call "familiar" with all of their work. However, I have seen them before and this crowd was not feeling them like they were the last few times I have caught them. For some reason the lead singer kept saying the word new. "This is off our new cd", "this is a new song". At a show like this you have 30 minutes to wow the crowd, your new stuff isn't going to do it; give them something they can sing along to, or have at least heard before.
After AK3 finished up, I should have headed over to the Maurice Stage (who the hell is Maurice) to check out some NY punk as the Casualties took the stage, however, my hunger prevailed so instead I decided to go and get something to eat. This, of course, ended up with me waiting about a half hour in line for a shitty gyro (they forgot to put the white sauce stuff on it, and that's really the only reason I wanted one). After I begrudgingly ate said gyro, I headed back to the press area for yet another cool interview with Flogging Molly. OK, not Flogging Molly, the whole band, Flogging Molly, Nathan the guitar player. This again is another story. After officially completing my second interview almost successfully, (my recording quality left a little to be desired) I remembered that I had yet to venture to any other stage than the two main stages, so to the Drive Thru stage I went. South Cali poppunksters, Homegrown, were on the stage and honestly I kind of wanted to see them. I guess they are sort of my guilty pleasure. I really shouldn't like the kind of stuff they play, or most of what Drive Thru puts out, but I do. There were two bands that played this stage throughout the day that have a special place in my heart. Homegrown is one, and Autopilot Off is the other (and damnit but I still like Cooter better). Homegrown whipped through their set playing only a few older tracks like "Antigirl" and their cover of "Barbi Girl", but overall their set was good and I would recommend them to any Blink 182 fan.
At this point I'm not sure what I was thinking but I made the choice to skip not only Bad Religion but also Death by Stereo to get ice cream (yeah, I don't know what I was thinking, but I assure you I wasn't on anything). The plus side was that I did get to miss that really cool band Good Charlotte. They were on the stage while I was waiting in line and I could kind of hear what they were saying. It had something to do with proving themselves and "haters." I have always respected bands that can prove themselves in the face of oppression but, and I could be wrong here, the last time I heard something by these guys it was on a shitty modern rock station, and the only lines I can remember were the singer screaming "No Future" over and over. So OK, you guys aren't pretty boys, you're "real" punks, because you ripped that song off. And, for future reference, if you're gonna rip a band off, do someone better than the Sex Pistols. I once read an interview with these guys and they were joking about being gay (or maybe they weren't, I frankly don't care) but after watching their set, they can be as flamboyant as they want, trying to get little teenage poontang. But whatever the case, they sure as hell aren't good.
It didn't take much convincing to walk away from them to go see Ashes to Ashes on a stage I didn't even know existed. I have to admit, their set wasn't too bad, if you like hardcore. However, since I'm not the hugest fan of hardcore, I chose this point in the day to take a little nap and begin resting up for the ride home. I do think I would have enjoyed their set had I stayed awake and paid attention.
Anyway, after I woke up it was time for the main stage headliners to go on; The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, New Found Glory, and NOFX. The Bosstones went on first on the Teal stage and pretty much went out in support of their new album Jackknife to a Swan. I have a handful of favorite songs by these guys but they never seem to play them, and they sure as hell weren't going to fit too much old stuff into their 30 minutes. They were however able to close with the outstanding song "The Impression That I Get". Even thought this band's ability doesn't shine through in their half hour set, they are pretty much the only successful surviving ska band around, and that has to say something. Plus, if you ever see this band in a smaller venue they prove just how outstanding they really are.
From one passed fad to another that will soon fade. New Found Glory took the stage to the delight of the females in the audience. These guys need to find some new topics to write about in their songs. I mean don't get me wrong, ex-girlfriends and getting over them have been selling records for decades now, but I just think New Found is dipping into the same well over and over for ever track. Don't get me wrong their songs are outstandingly catchy, and I must admit, I am one to hum a chorus or two, but they just don't exactly "do it for me". They also made the obvious choices for their set (i.e. "Hit or Miss", and closing with their current single "My Friend's Over You") which I tend to find not too surprising. Overall their sets are becoming increasingly more mainstream as they become pop-emo as opposed to just plain emo.
One of the most entertaining things about New Found Glory's set was towards the end, which is when I moved from the Brian Stage to the Teal Stage, where NOFX was about to play. Since NOFX is a more "punk" band, so are their fans. By the time New Found was approaching their last song The NOFX fans had begun to chant "GET OFF THE STAGE," and start flipping off the other main stage. Whether this was right or not, I'm not really one to say, but it sure as hell was funny. Anyways, NOFX came on stage to close the day out. I never really found myself listening to NOFX, but I have seen them before (coincidently at a previous Warped Tour), and if there was anything that might encourage me to listen to them more; it would be their live shows. I found them to be quite humorous, the only problem was, I was growing tired and left about three songs into NOFX set. A person highlight of their set was a cover of NOFX's "4th favorite punk band" Rancid's "Radio," which I thought was outstanding.
All in all, I think I need to admit, that if I wasn't doing Rockzone/press stuff all day I most likely would have been thoroughly unimpressed and disappointed with this years Warped Tour. I think this should really be a two day event at each stop or something, because there is just too much going on and too much to miss for anyone to really enjoy it. Not enough attention was given to the smaller, less established bands, and with a tour like this, that is where the emphasis should be. In comparison to the last two Warped Tours I have been to this one would have to fall last in line; they need to get back to the basics. Get bands kids want to see, and don't think about how many tickets you are going to sell. Perhaps it was best said in Field of Dreams "If you build it they will come." I just have an odd feeling that Warped Tour is on a downward spiral, not of ticket sales, but quality. Time will only tell, and I will be anxiously awaiting the announcement of next years line up in ... oh say ... 290 days.