A handful of punk rock fans jostled for position around the microphone of the Mohawk-coiffed vocalist of the Casualties Monday at Sandstone.
They shouted along to the Clash’s “White Riot” in a jubilant moment that felt true to the original punk ideals of equality and free-spirited anarchy.
Such incidents have become increasingly rare at Warped Tour, the venerable annual alternative music festival.
While The Clash’s Joe Strummer once lamented that the music industry seemed bent on “turning rebellion into money,” his protest now seems quaint. As a showcase for music inspired by bands like the Clash, Warped Tour is a ruthlessly efficient machine that featured over 65 acts on seven stages Monday.
Although the event seemed slightly less congested than in previous years, an audience of about 7,000 braved the day’s high temperatures. Most of the fans belonged to one of two disparate groups. The first set of concertgoers consisted of teenage girls who screamed along with pop-punk acts like the Rocket Summer and Pierce the Veil.
Fresh-faced fans of these lightweight groups were forced to endure abuse from advocates of heavier music. The front man for street punk band the Sparring, for instance, hurled a nearly full energy drink can toward the crowd watching Pierce the Veil’s set at a nearby stage. Punk band Left Alone taunted passerby as they performed “I Hate Emo.” These acts might be resentful that their style seems to be falling out of favor.
A sterling set by veteran
“Apparently word hasn’t gotten out that we’re the best band on Warped Tour,” front man Trever Keith sighed.
Extreme music acts fared better. Thirty minutes after the Face to Face debacle, a rabid crowd of over 1,000 thrash fans congregated to hear
Every Time I Die perform on the same stage. The complex, horrifically violent noise generated by the Dillinger Escape Plan was even more harrowing. A toxic cocktail composed of equal parts jazz theorist Ornette Coleman and raging punk band Black Flag, its potent brew befuddled would-be moshers. Metal was also represented. Suicide Silence was appropriately brutal while Alesana drew one of the day’s biggest crowds. The vocalist of Whitechapel concluded its set of death metal with a correspondingly bleak kiss-off.
“Thank you very much,
Andrew W.K. would surely beg to differ. His unflaggingly good cheer and childlike glee make him the Mr. Rogers of hard rock. Hundreds of rock acts may be superior to Andrew W.K., but few offer more fun. The manic country blues of Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band was also smile-inducing.
Other acts of note that didn’t fit the conventional Warped Tour model were Deas Vail’s dream-pop, Tip the Van’s delightful evocation of the Go-Go’s and Fake Problems’ roots-rock. The latter band resembled the Gaslight Anthem for the Hot Topic set.
Members of several bands claimed that Monday was the hottest day of this summer’s tour. Fans squabbled over the right to bask in precious patches of shade under the almost cloudless sky.
“The hardest part of Warped Tour is staying drunk and hydrated at the same time,” joked Aaron Barrett of ska band Reel Big Fish. It really wasn’t a laughing matter.
Although a lot of notable music was performed, Monday will likely be remembered for its oppressive heat.
-- Bill Brownlee, Special to The Star