Hello everyone. My name is Bill, and I will be taking you through my Warped Tour adventure for July 24, 2004. You may be asking yourself why we need another Warped Tour review on the site. I feel obligated to write this, because the other ones fell more in line with the more mainstream and sub genres represented on the tour. They ignored the more solid bands on the roster, and didn't reflect what I got out of the day. So here I go. Get ready for a long one.
While waiting in the ridiculously long entry line, the Sounds could be heard wailing away. They were nice enough for background music, but as the line moved along they slowly faded away. After entering, I took a quick check at the scheduling board. Thankfully, time conflicts were held to a minimum. I was walking around, and heard a band launch into "Pet Cemetery." Me being the Ramones junkie that I am, I ran over to the Space Stage to see who it was. The band was the Groovy Ghoulies. I vaguely knew of them, but was totally hooked after five minutes. It didn't matter if you'd ever heard the songs before, the Ghoulies would have you singing along by the second chorus. That, my friend, is a measure of a good band. Their set began at 1:15, and started the longest straight run of music of the day.
After being run over and trampled by the Ghoulies, the next band on the list was Lars Fredericksen and the Bastards. Let me tell you, they tore shit up. Lars, Gordy and Craig all were running around, obviously having a great time. They opened with "Dead American" and didn't let up until slightly before the last song. I expected to hear more from the new album, but in the end, "SPD," "Fight," "1%," and "Blind Ambition," were enough to satisfy me. Before ending on "Vietnam" Lars gave a talk about how he was glad to be touring with a real punk rock band. "It's not some kid with a faux-hawk and a Motley Crue t-shirt, wearing women's jeans." You know what? I couldn't agree more. Everyone's entitled to his or her own opinion, I know. Let the shit talking begin. "Vietnam" incited a circle pit that went all the way around the sound tent, which turned out to be a successful failure. When safely out of sight from Lars, the kids would walk, then resume skanking while in front of the stage. I don't ever remember laughing so hard at a show.
Next was the only time I had to make a difficult choice. The Bouncing Souls and the Briggs were scheduled to play at the same time. This being my fourth time seeing the Bouncing Souls, I decided it wouldn't hurt to split the set time in half. I made it over to the Souls just as "Sing Along Forever" ended and "Say Anything" began. Brian managed to throw an insult to humanity in before "East Coast Fuck You" by saying that NYC has the best pizza. I say fuck that! The other songs I was able to catch were "Kids and Heroes," "The Ballad of Johnny X," and "Hopeless Romantic." They're one of my favorite live bands, and it made me sad to leave them. Then came the mad dash over to the Volcom Stage to catch the end of The Briggs' set. Again, I was semi-familiar with them from the Pure Volume site and compilation tracks. They blasted through four songs in the ten minutes I was there, and left to rabid applause. I can't tell you any names, but I do know that they were extremely well done and worthy of your time.
Atmosphere was next on the Volcom stage, and I really did want to see them. But unfortunately, The Vandals were up at the same time. It's been three years since the Vandals have been in Chicago, so they were the clear and obvious winner of that battle. I got up to the stage just as they were ending "Be a Good Robot," and starting up "It's a Fact." They ran through the classics like "Oi to the World" and "And Now We Dance" during the thirty minutes of glory. Joe and the Alkaline Trio drummer might have no stage presence, but Warren and Dave more than make up for it. Instead of ending on the traditional "I Have a Date," the closer to the set was the Queen cover from the new album. Warren did his dancing and played his favorite sport, which just happens to be Little Lead Guitar. I really wish that this band would do more than the sporadic Warped tour and find their way to a headlining Midwest tour.
To my utter surprise and delight, the Groovy Ghoulies were playing a second set on the Space Stage! If I was impressed by the first set, the second converted me into a total fan. Every single song was a blast of illegally catchy pop punk! 30 inspiring minutes later, the Ghoulies were done, and it was 3:45. The most trying portion of the day had ended, with two and a half solid hours of great music.
With a half an hour to kill before Tiger Army came on, I sat down and had a hot dog and a Gatorade for the low total of $9. This was made alright by the sight of Warren Fitzgerald riding an oversize bicycle, looking like a total special needs kid. Tiger Army were not really rousing, but they got the job done. Geoff completely stole the show from the others with his bass playing. They ran through the expected songs like "F.T.W." "Nocturnal" "Power of Moonlight" and "Cupid's Victim." From the new album, they busted out "Ghost Tigers Rise," "Ghostfire," and the remarkably laid back "Rose of the Devil's Garden."
In another incident of lucky timing, I happened to be walking past the Space Stage as The Phenomenauts began. This band has to be seen to be believed. It included a stand up bass, a moog synthesizer, one band member in a robot helmet, one as a doctor, and one in what can only be described as microwave goggles. They played an amped up, spaced out version of rock and roll with song titles like "Earth is the Best" "Gravity" and "Tiny Robots." I was completely blown away by this unknown band making its first visit to the "Illinois Sector." Their props included toilet paper on a leaf blower and a fire extinguisher. If only the other bands around could be half as entertaining as these guys. Do not miss out and skip them.
Bad Religion came next. With Bad Religion, you know what to expect, whether it's on record or live. They never dissatisfy. From the slightly disappointing new album, they played "Sinister Rouge," "Atheist peace" "and God's Love." And for the first time, I was witness to the classic "Fuck Armageddon, This is Hell." The fact that they finally played that song in Chicago made my day, and made up for the fact that they skipped "Do What You Want." The 30 minutes was nowhere near enough and the end came too abruptly. I can't wait for the fall tour.
An hour later, NOFX took the stage and went straight into the usual stupid stage banter, telling us that we got a good set list. Mike was right, because once they actually started playing the songs were great. "Linoleum" opened the set, and after a fuck up at the start, they played a new song called "I wore out the soles in my Party Boots." I'm having a hard time remembering the rest of the set list, but they also played "Reeko" and "Hobophobic," and "Idiot Son of an Asshole." I guess Lars was supposed to help them out with their cover of "Radio" but he never showed. Like with Bad Religion, you usually know what you're getting into with NOFX. And also like with Bad Religion, I walked away extremely happy, eagerly anticipating a full tour.
Hazen Street was on about 20 minutes later. After getting CDs from the Groocy Ghoulies, the Briggs, and The Phenomenauts, I meandered to the Volcom stage again to see them. After I tied my shoes, I decided I'd had enough of Hazen Street. It seemed like an awful pop punk/rap show experiment gone horribly awry.
The last set of the day I saw was Break the Silence over on the Ernie Ball stage. They've gotten more cohesive since I last saw them, which was about a year ago. Sure, the album was a bit of a disappointment, but don't skip these guys over. They basically played the entire "Near Life Experience" album but cut out the filler tracks. They ended with the awesome At the Gates cover "Slaughter of the Soul."
So ends my day. I hope you read all of that.