On August 10, it was once again time for every New York punk's pilgrimage to the Woodside train station, where busses were waiting to bring us to Randall's Island, site of the Warped Tour. With the sheer number of big-name punk bands playing this year, the crowd was as large as ever.
As we got on line outside of the venue, we noticed a sign posted, saying that The Used and Thursday will be the first main-stage acts. Seeing this, I promptly cut about 6,000 people in line (if any of them are reading this, sorry). Getting past the usual mob of people, friskings, and bag-checking, I entered the main-stage area. The first thing I noticed was that this year they had a giant band-listing in the middle of the fairgrounds. This was a wonderful upgrade from the past years, where you would have to track down a schedule by going from booth to booth.
The first band I saw was Thursday. Despite the crowd still filing in, they got a huge reaction. They stuck to songs from their hit CD "Full Collapse," and pretty much just played without talking. Overall, they were good, but not as good as I've seen before in a smaller venue.
Before Thursday finished, I headed over to a smaller stage to catch the end of Bigwig's set. They played awesomely, and had a lot of crowd-members singing along, as well as a nice-sized circle pit going on. After Bigwig finished up, I moved over to the Drive-Thru stage to see the beginning of the Movielife's set. It was basically their homecoming Warped show (there are probably more kids from Long Island at Warped than from NYC or Jersey), and they made it special, with an energetic performance.
I skipped half of the Movielife's set, in order to go to the main stage to see Ozma play. Despite the crowd not really knowing who they were (I was asked at least 5 times during their set), they rocked out and put on a good show. Their performance of "Korobeiniki" (the background song from Tetris) got the crowd on their side, and closing song "Rocks" got a big ovation. I think Ozma won over more than a few fans at this show.
The next band I caught was Allister. Though they had a small crowd compared to other Drive-Thru Stage artists, they really got the crowd going. The bassist did his usual stage-diving, and they had the crowd sing along to the chorus of their finale song, "Radio Player."
After a lengthy wait between bands I wanted to see, finally the Alkaline Trio took the stage. I had really been anticipating their set, but unfortunately, they just didn't play well, and offered very little energy. Though they did play all of my favorite songs, something was just flat. I'm willing to give them another chance, but I was definately not happy with their set on this day.
After briefly viewing a few bands I had a casual interest in (and just for the record, Bad Religion was good and Good Charlotte was bad), I made my way to the ExcessDB.com Stage for perhaps the most anticipated act of the day: Long Island's own From Autumn To Ashes. This young emo-metal-core quintet has become a huge name locally, and is ready to break huge in the rest of the nation. They put on an excellent show, in front of the largest side-stage crowd of the day. Playing for 45 minutes (the longest of any band that day, as far as I know), they played all their biggest songs, saving "Short Stories With Tragic Endings" for the end, after screams for it all set long. From start to finish, F.A.T.A. rocked, and was in my opinion the top act of the day.
After viewing MxPx and the Bosstones from afar (both were good, but not great), I headed into the crowd for the final two bands of the day: Newfound Glory, and NOFX. NFG was up first. They played a nice mix of the 3 best songs from the new CD, the 4 best songs off the old CD, and the best cover song. They had everyone in the crowd moving, and played as well as ever. Personally, I'd prefer to see them playing their own show, where there are less assholes in the crowd (more on that later). Overall though, they rocked.
El Hefe: "Hey man, I got a house payment to make, so I'm giving it my all up here!"
Fat Mike: "I'm already loaded, so I'm only giving you guys about 60%."
NOFX closed the show, and Mike's statement pretty much sums up my feeling about their set. They were funny between songs, and they played all the favorites (including their reggae cover of Rancid's "Radio"), but they just don't seem to care while they're playing, and it ruins the feeling in the crowd. They finished up, and everyone left.
Once again, the two main problems at Warped Tour flared this year. First of all, I don't know about other locations, but the NY show takes place on basically a vacant field, which is very little grass and a lot of dirt. With all the movement in the crowd, a lot of dirt gets kicked up, and it's virtually unavoidable to come home from Warped not covered head-to-toe in dirt, with a fair amount having gone down your throat. The other problem with Warped, which I'm sure is encountered at every show, is the sheer number of assholes in the crowd. These are people who punch/kick others who aren't in the moshpit, people who stage-dive feet-first, 250-pound dudes who crowd surf and expect little girls to hold them up, and in fact crowd-surfers in general (I came to watch the band, not stand facing the opposite way so I can make sure I don't get kicked in the head). I know some people complain about the teenybopper presence at Warped, but I'd rather have them standing behind me singing along than some guy who thinks his green mohawk is a license to suckerpunch me and call it dancing.
These problems aside, I enjoyed my trip to Warped. There's always so many bands, that there's sure to be a bunch that you will like.