Warped Tour 2009 | 8.3.09

brokencyde2small.jpgEnter a strange world where people drink Monster Energy Drink (TM) instead of water.

 

 

 

 

 

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As I stood in line under an overcast sky, I wondered if I was too old for Warped Tour. Not that 23 makes me some sort of dinosaur but goddamn, look at all these munchkins running around, with haircuts that I never thought I’d see in real life! Skin tight jeans and slicked up reverse mullets, in this weather? Obviously, I found myself among a sea of youthful bad ideas, the sort that you can only get away with in your teenage years because at worst you can attribute it to being "punk as fuck" or something equally eloquent.But Warped Tour isn’t about bad ideas, it’s about having fun.
I had a mohawk once, I can relate.

While I looked for the Skull Candy stage I quickly noted that the Kia and Musicman stages were musical dead zones and kept in the back of my head that I should avoid both of them. Whatever was coming from them sounded shrill, seriously dated, and possibly dangerous to your ability to tell hot from cold. The bands on both stages never swayed from that original impression. Salvation came soon, however, with The AKAs. It was early and there was only a modest gathering at their stage but the 5-piece from Philly rocked pretty hard for it not even being 11:30am. Reminding me of a great band ruined by Rick Rubin, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, it was definitely the stage to be at for the moment. Good sound aside, they worked the small but enthusiast crowd in such a way that it was a shame that they weren’t given a better slot.

After that, the Vans main stage was the place to be for most of the afternoon, hosting the most established bands on the roster. Underoath looked like they hadn’t showered in days but their Jesuscore sounded just as sweet as one would imagine. The heavy crowd and the clouds dispersed during Less Than Jake but that didn’t stop them from bringing some excellent ska-punk to an already diverse festival. I’m obligated to say nice things since Chris Demakes helped me out with my credentials but really it was cool to see that era of music represented so well. I ducked out on the middle of their set to check out another band but came back just in time to hear "All My Friends Are Metalheads". Bouncing Souls served as the middle band in a trio of classic bands, drawing a diverse but definitely older crowd as well as some healthy crowdsurfing. Bad Religion singer Greg Graffin came out dressed as someone’s dad which was cool, I guess.

In between sets at the main stage there was enough time to hop to another stage and see what was going on. Attack Attack!, seemingly unable to decide if people are laughing with them or at them, were entertaining enough but nothing amazing. Besides their crabcore stances, the most interesting part of their set was before they even came on, when the stage MC hopped on the barricades and asked people why they liked the band. After a few stock answers, one voice replied "BECAUSE IT’S FUCKING AWESOME TO LISTEN TO IN IRAQ!" and was met with a moment of awkward silence from the MC. It should be also noted that a band confusingly embracing and riding on its own mockery, unlikely to record a second album, had one of the more overwhelming turnouts of the afternoon. Everyone wants to see a suicide as long as it’s on a stage.

Canadian hip hoppy guy Shad was another act standing out from the rest, mixing acoustic guitar with laptop beats. Though, it was hard for me to enjoy as most of his banter dealt with trying to explain hip hop to white kids. Which happens to be one of the more annoying trends in indie hip hop right now. Show us what it is instead of trying to explain what it’s like and drop the sagely attitude.

And then there were The Millionaires, three Cali girls proving that you don’t need talent or a label to get buzz going. Other bands on the tour told me that they lip sync and that the roadies and sound guys fuck with them all the time but honestly, I couldn’t tell if this was sabotage or just spectacle running it’s course. Their auto-tune sounded like someone bashing on the keys of a broken vocoder and there was something off about their audio levels. They dry humped and danced like they were in a Rob Zombie video and after the one that looks like Elvira’s step-daughter bent over in front of my camera and giggled I felt dirty.

The Millionaires, as delightful as it is to cast stones at them, are nothing compared to Brokencyde.These guys make Crazy Town look like U2. The very idea of crunkcore is terrifying and their set, three guys too old to be dressing like they’re college freshmen ready for a crazy Thursday night, is no different from that scene in Cannibal Holocaust where they kill the jungle rat, or where they shoot the pig in the face. Actually, it’s a lot like the whole of Cannibal Holocaust down to the part where you question if people actually died during production.

POS provided a nice change by rapping from the pit of the amphitheater and got a tight circle of people digging on his vibe within minutes. Maybe it was because he wasn’t trying to explain hip hop. Definitely one of the highlights of the afternoon.

At this point things were winding down, vendors were packing up, and the sun began its dip under the horizon. I checked out the last band on the Hurley stage, the name of which I can’t remember for the life of me, who had a ridiculously huge and energetic crowd and sounded really tight. 3OH!3 closed out the main stage and it was tough getting into them. John Lumley of Shame Club once told me, in my younger years, that humor in music is a terrible gimmick and it is, I suppose, if you don’t get the joke. After whole day in the sun it’s hard to tell if someone’s trying to be genuinely humorous or if they’re just running something into the ground with irony, the greatest creative crutch of them all. | Bryan J. Sutter

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