We're driving around trying to find donuts in Houston before we head to Austin on our day off. For the past two days I've spent my time in parking lots, the heat, the rain, the nightlife and the morning after hauling tents, boxes and setting up a 10x10 space to sell merch, and apparently give directions to the restroom and other tents for which I didn't have a mental layout of the park - but attendees still believe I could tell them where Chelsea Grin's tent is. I don't know! Go away. Listen to "Pump Up the Valuum" or "How I Spent My Summer Vacation."What the fuck is wrong with this generation?!
That's how I remember Warped Tour when I was growing up. There were no big print t-shirts with phrases like "YOUR MOM LOVES THIS SHIT" or "CAN'T SPELL SLUT WITHOUT YOU" in big bold letters across the front. We just had t-shirts with a small design across the front end or a band name simply printed on a shirt. The majority of t-shirts I saw in the last few days were dysfunctional billboards on the even more dysfunctional youth. It was truly boggling. As I wrote an "old guy" write-up two years ago when attending Warped Tour - my first time since 2002 - this year I didn't want to just attend, and when the opportunity came up to "work" for two days, ride in a van, sleep on a bench and wake up to a sick stomach and a Wal-Mart restroom at five in the morning - I wanted the experience of seeing the rigs drive in early to set-up, drive out, and drive in immediately after the last band is through to tear down while the rest of the artists and production crew grab a bite and a few drinks at the nightly BBQ following each day - which varies dependent of bus calls due to certain lengthy drives between stops. For two days I got to see the "behind the scenes" of a 2+ month tour across North America.
Just woke up. It's raining. Phone says it's nine. Pretty sure we have to be set-up by ten. This should be fun.Turning on Unwound. Changing my boxers.
While everyone has their opinion of what Warped Tour is and what they want Warped Tour to be, for the artists to the production crew to the caterers cooking at 6 a.m. and merch guys setting up tents and tearing down - it's a job. Thankfully, it's a fun one. You get to work next to your friends every day. Sure, there are those people that you care not to see because of your personal tastes in what music should or shouldn't be, but everyone eats in the same area and you just may find yourself having conversations with people you wouldn't normally pay any attention to otherwise. The thing is, they're still human and their opinions on music differ from their opinions on everything else. That's not to say there still aren't bands calling other bands out every day of tour while on stage, but I think it comes with the territory. That territory of subjectivity is where we find our brash behavior from generation to generation. For the kids who saw Quicksand and L7 and No Doubt, they laughed at the next generation of main stage acts and so on and so on through the years.
I've been sitting in this tent for two hours. You'd think by now I would have seen at least one(!) NOFX t-shirt. Has it really been ten years since I went to Warped Tour as a kid?
Then there were the "vets" this year. The bands that I grew up with and some who played Warped Tour when I was the "target" demographic: Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, Senses Fail and Every Time I Die. What's funny is, those are the bands that stuck and the bands I saw both days. I missed The Used and Anti-Flag (except one song waiting for New Found Glory.) They played in 2002, and I saw both bands then, but for whatever reason those bands didn't stick with me through a decade. That doesn't mean that their music is worse or better, it's just how I currently feel about something I once loved. Then it hit me as I was impatiently waiting for Anti-Flag to end to see New Found Glory, when I was going to Warped Tour in 2002, I was at an impressionable age that every new thing was cool. At 15 and 16, you're at your height of being impressionable for new, exciting music. For that demographic, Warped Tour is perfect. It's not that I have a disconnect with Warped Tour, it's that I reached a disconnect with how new and exciting music can be because I've become older and jaded to what I once loved and what I still love and what I love new every day. I watched Polar Bear Club and Title Fight destroy crowds just as Senses Fail and Every Time I Die did - but those bands, as good as they are, will never have a connection to me that the kids attending now will have to them. I've reached the line of being a partial elitist in my own right. I can recognize good music because of how knowledgeable my palette is, but I'm no longer consuming it under naive pretenses of angst and teenage revolution. The one band that bridges that gap for me right now, and during the weekend both times I saw them, was Make Do and Mend. It sort of angered me as to how small the crowd was for the band's set both days. Criminal. Absolutely criminal.
There are Vampires. Everywhere.
One of the best things I was able to see this year was the Acoustic Basement put on by ex-Therefore I Am's Brian Marquis. Slightly weird since it was set-up next to the Silent Disco (which for a few hours on Saturday was not-so-silent), but the larger tent was still intimate enough to experience something special among the circus of the tour. Sets by Marquis, Into It. Over It., Koji and A Loss For Words packed in crowds for shade and sing-a-longs. Marquis was there every day setting up, figuring out schedules and adding last minute additions as he saw the day fit. There was no production crew - just a man, a plan and an acoustic guitar. It was something special to see executed both days. Hearing about his special guests throughout the summer, I don't see why Ol' Lyman shouldn't ask him back next year - well, if Marquis isn't beyond exhausted by the end of the run.
So in 2002, Trust Company played. 2001, there was 311. Somewhere in there Limp Bizkit played. Every year there seems to be a few "one of these is not like the other" bands. Excuse me? The bathrooms? Over there. No probelm.
Dead Sara. This is the "band's band" of Warped Tour. Every band talked about them, and after seeing them close out Saturday, I can see why. Dead Sara put on a set that's part Big Brother and the Holding Company and part '90s grunge. The band doesn't fit into the spectrum of most bands on the tour. It's strange to even take a gig like Warped Tour when this band should be opening for Queens of the Stone Age or Jack White. When I looked around the crowd, artists from completely different bands were in there watching something far apart from the look and feel of everything else going on most of the day. No matter what a band plays, it doesn't necessarily connect on the surface with what they listen to on their off(-stage) time. Dead Sara is the band of Warped Tour which trumps that stereotype for every other band on Warped Tour. It's different, but there aren't many people disagreeing the staying power Dead Sara can have past the summer festival and onto supporting larger venue and even arena acts in the years to come.
What is that on the radio? Is that "What to Do When You're Dead" right now? Are we almost to Austin? I'm definitely beginning to smell.Is the weekend already over?
Every year that we post Warped Tour announcements, threads will inevitably blow up with opinions of who should be playing and who shouldn't. When it gets down to it, there are still a few bad seeds here and there. Overall, bands are just looking to play. Some bands will gain new fans with the general crowds that Warped Tour caters to, and some of us older fuckers will come out and see a few bands we haven't seen in a while but still mean the world to us. What most of the public fails to see is the insane amount of work that goes into setting up and tearing down and getting to the next stop every day to do it again. You may have played last the day before, but you may end up playing first when you get to the next city. Some artists can afford the comfort of a bus while others take to Bandwagons and the benches of Green Vans. Hell, Green Vans is not only a sponsor of Warped Tour, they're also there to haul the crew around, as well as being the transportation in cutting gas for some vendors and bands alike. Warped Tour doesn't just breed new bands for the next generation, it also breeds new ideas for future tours both small and big in this industry to survive what's failing at some levels day to day.
Okay, Matthew Lillard just introduced himself to me. I've had one too many drinks.
I think Dr. Keith Buckley put it best last week, "We are all out here trying to get by. Some of us are better at it than others. Motionless In White gets up and puts on makeup at 10am if they have to play first. That dedication is admirable. The DJ for Mod Sun talked to me about the book I was reading. Champagne Champagne has been seen in our mosh pits!" There are a lot of preconceived notions as to what Warped Tour is supposed to be, but after spending a weekend behind the scenes and observing the wildlife of attendees and the dedication to make every set count, no matter the city or the crowd; no matter the side stage band or the main stage veteran; no matter the sponsored vendor or the D.I.Y. clothing company - Warped Tour is not so much a way to get your band heard, it's a lot of people just trying to enjoy the summer and hopefully radiate the fun they're having to everyone else in the parking lot that day trying to have the same feeling. It's a college of unlike-minded folks when it comes to music, all rooting for the same school, all trying to graduate and make the next big step. The unfortunate part is that not everyone will come out of it graduating to bigger tours, some may stay on the mid-level tour route and others may just disappear in years to come to "normal life" and the such. It's hard to tell who and when all that will occur. So, you just need to enjoy the days and the summer as it goes and maybe one day you'll be one of the ones to come back to the school as a special guest talking about how it was in your day. You'll grin and be happy to be in the moment you once lost your shit over (even with your own convictions towards how the "school" has changed.)
I bought a Thou shirt during Chaos in Tejas that I forgot to bring for the weekend. It says, "Punk rock ruined my life." Vans Warped Tour is a notch in that statement for some attendees and bands and production crew and merch guys and all the other outcasts that have embraced their own lifestyle of what they believe punk is. To some, Warped Tour isn't exactly the definition of "punk rock" on the surface. To that I say this - there are a lot of people who bust their ass for something they believe in to be a good time and want to be a part of. Whether that's not "VFW Hall" or "D.I.Y." enough for you, I watched a lot of people put their all into two days out of 2+ months worth of a nation wide touring festival. If that's not even a slight definition of hard work that goes into "D.I.T.," then I don't know what to say. Keep being your true punk self I guess? I mean, get fucked.