Arriving at Randall's Island at about 9:40 am for my first ever Warped Tour, I thought to myself, "We've got over two hours before the actual thing starts, it can't be that crowded!"...damn was I wrong. Once my friends and I arrived at the venue, the line was ridiculously long. When we got our place at the back of the line, we knew it was going to be an eternity before we saw the entrance again.
The wait on the line was monotonous. It was however quite amusing to see members of local bands come up and down the line with portable cd players begging people to listen to and buy their new EPs. By the time we finally entered the festival and past the two ticket checkpoints, it was about 12:15.
The venue at Randall's is very infamous for the problems with having large clumps of dirt flying everywhere. This couldn't have been more true today. The amount of dirt floating around on both main stages and the Maurice stage was about as abundant as the presence of 14 year old girls who were there to see New Found Glory and Yellowcard. You breathed it, you got it in your face, your hair, your eyes, your nose, your clothes, basically if you wanted to get close enough to actually see the faces of the band members, you got spoon-fed filth. Really gross, but I guess in NYC Randall's is the only place that will accommodate this type of event, so you gotta deal with it.
The attendance at the festival had to be well over 10,000. If you got separated from your friends, you're never going to find them again. To make matters worse, the merch/refreshment booths were in a completely unorganized maze, making things even more difficult. For example, at one point you maybe standing at the Vagrant records booth, and the booth to your right is Don't Look Down while the booth to your left is Tiger Army. This wasn't even attempted to be set up in a remotely organized fashion. It was pretty much walk around forever until you find your desired booth. Nice job Randall's.
So anyway, enough of this bullshit and on to the bands. (note: I didn't really hit any other stages besides the two main ones and the Maurice. Sorry to people looking for info on bands who were on other stages)
The first band of the day was Lars and the Bastards. By the time we got in we missed practically their entire set, so it really just wasn't worth it to stick around. Billy Talent was on next, and since we didn't know any other song by them besides the extremely annoying "Try Honesty", we decided to walk around for a bit and kill some time. The first band we arrived to watch was Sugarcult. I admit that I occasionally enjoy some of their shtick, but today it just didn't do it for me. When the band first took the stage and played the opening riff of "Stuck In America", their lead singer belts out "WHATS UP MOTHERFUCKERS!!!!????" Now, if you're going to yap out that, you can't go into a by the numbers pop-punk song after it, because that's just stupid. Seeing them do that was unintentionally hilarious. The band's set was unsurprising and unconvincing. They played all their really big songs, including "She's The Blade", "Memory", "Daddy's Little Defect", "Saying Goodbye", "Pretty Girl" and closing with "Bouncing Off The Walls".
After Sugarcult, we traveled about 10 feet to the other main stage to see Anti-Flag. Pits were abundant, but controlled for the most part. The band played an energetic and aggressive set, not slowing down their speed for anyone. Justin and Chris's voices sounded tight and focused, as did the instrumentation. While taking an interlude or two to denounce the government and Bush (who didn't see this coming) and trying to form unity between the crowd, the band tore through a powerful set with songs including "Fuck Police Brutality", "Rank-N-File", "Underground Network", "Death Of A Nation", "Turncoat" and closing with "Die For Your Government". During DFYG, Tim from Rise Against came onto the stage and helped with vocals. Awesome.
From here, I decided to stay at the area with the main stages to wait for Tiger Army to come on while my friends all left me to go see Motion City Soundtrack. During the wait, I watched The (International) Noise Conspiracy's set from a distance. They put on a really good show, songs including "Black Mask", "Up For Sale", "Like A Landslide" and "Capitalism Stole My Virginity". Their style of post-punk is second to none, and even though their audience wasn't that big, everyone who stayed around to watch them were greatly rewarded.
Tiger Army was next, and they were so amazing that I don't know where to begin. The new drummer sounds great, its as if he's been playing with them as long as Fred was. The band's sound, drawing influences from psychobilly and hardcore punk is completely engaging. If you don't know them, now's the time to get out there and give them a listen. Their set was flawless, songs including "Ghost Tigers Rise", "Nocturnal", "Cupid's Victim", "Ghostfire", "Power Of Moonlite", "Rose Of The Devil's Garden", "Fuck The World" and "Never Die". Everyone who watched them was completely engrossed, they had to have been one of the best acts of the day.
When they ended, I had to race to get to the Maurice Stage to see Rise Against. This was tough, it was either them or Flogging Molly but I think I made the right choice. Since the damn venue was so confusing though, I got to the stage late and missed the opening song, which I later found out was "Dead Ringer". By the time I got there, the band was about halfway into their second song, which was "Voices Off Camera". The band was bursting with energy and even though the crowd was dying from the plethora of dirt covering them, the response was great. Tim's voice sounded just as good as it does on record. The set was practically all stuff from Revolutions Per Minute, including "Broken English", "Blood Red White And Blue", "Heaven Knows" and closer "Black Masks And Gasoline". They played two off the new cd, which were "State Of The Union" and "Give It All". I was a bit disappointed that we didn't get some of the really good new songs like "Life Less Frightening" and "Tip The Scales", but the band did what they could with the half hour they were allotted. They didn't play any songs off Unraveling either, which is a shame because it would have been awesome to hear "100 Good Intentions" or "Everchanging".
Back at the mainstages, New Found Glory started their set, which I decided to skip out on. Instead I went to get a place on line for the Tiger Army signing at 4. After shaking hands and meeting Nick 13 and the boys, I headed back to the main stages to meet my friends who were watching Coheed. By the time I got back there, Coheed finished their set and Taking Back Sunday started theirs on the other. We used this time to push ahead to the front of the other main stage to get good spots for the Vandals, who were after TBS.
You can call the Vandals washed up, you can say they should just call it quits, but you can't deny that they put on one hell of a fun live show. The band's stage presence was great and so was the crowd. They opened up their blistering set with Quickening classic "It's A Fact" and from that they ripped into "4,3,2,1,0,-1". While taking some of their antics were really funny (after noticing some people leaving their set, the lead singer yelled at them "hey! just because we don't have songs on the radio doesn't mean we don't have songs!), some were a bit overboard (seeing the guitar player put that little guitar down his pants was ridiculously gross), however, when it came down to it, we had an absolute blast watching them. They played a very nice mix of new and old material including "The New You", "I've Got An Ape Drape", "My Girlfriend's Dead", "Oi To The World", "And Now We Dance", "My Neck My Back" and closing with Queen cover "Don't Stop Me Now".
Once the Vandals finished, I caught a bit of the Bouncing Souls's set, but since my throat was so dry I could barely breathe, I had to take a break and get something to drink. The Souls sounded really good from what I was able to hear though, they played "Sing Along Forever", "Cracked", "Kid" and "True Believers" from when I was there.
Eight dollars later, I have a 20 ounce Pepsi and a hot dog. After eating my overpriced dinner, my friends and I headed back to the mainstages to catch Thursday's set. The band seemed very out of it, One of their guitar players was MIA and lead singer Geoff's voice was off and he forgot a lot of words. It isn't their fault though, not only have they been playing non-stop for practically two months, but playing in such a dirty, germ infested venue would make things harder for any band. They still pulled off a solid set, tearing through "For The Workforce, Drowning", "Paris In Flames", "Understanding In A Car Crash", "Signals Over The Air", "Jet Black New Year" (which included a cameo from the From Autumn To Ashes lead singer on the screams) and closing with "Division St". Props go to them also for saying that they supported file-sharing of their music, thats awesome.
Thursday was done and Story Of The Year began playing on the other mainstage. Not really giving a shit about SOTY, my friends and I poured into the front of the mainstage Thursday just finished up on to await Bad Religion's set. We were practically front row center, the closest we had been to any band all day. Even though we all knew were gonna die, it would all be worth it to see Greg and the boys. When BR came on, the crowd went absolutely fucking nuts. The band was amazing, even in their mid 40s they were probably one of the most energetic bands to play all day, they tore through a great set full of old and new songs including the opener "Sinister Rouge", "No Control", "Epiphany", "Generator", "American Jesus", "God's Love", "Infected", "Can't Stop It", and closing with "Sorrow". The only problem with their set was that they didn't get enough time to hit up other classics such as "21st Century Digital Boy" or "I Wanna Conquer The World" but it was all worthwhile to see them play. The crowd was insane, pits were everywhere and we were completely thrashed. I got kicked in the head by a crowd surfer and then a really fat one fell on me. It fucking sucked. Fat people crowd surfing = don't please. No offense to anyone because I'm not Mr. skinny myself, but please be considerate!
After the Bad Religion set, not only was I black and blue all over, I was also completely trapped by a sea of people waiting for Yellowcard. Still being practically front row center, I couldn't get out, no one would move, and because of this I had to miss NOFX. Dammit. I heard "Franco Un-American" and "Bob" from the distance though, but i was more focused on trying to protect myself from flying water and Pepsi bottles which people were throwing up in the air for the hell of it. Some were empty but most were filled up. The worst of it however was the fact that people started filling them up with the dirt on the ground and they were heaving those up into the air! Talk about serious fucking injury. After meeting some pretty cool people and just trying to protect ourselves, Yellowcard took the stage and the crowd went completely nuts.
As the band started, the lead singer started singing NOFX's "Idiot Son Of An Asshole" song and from that, they bizarrely started playing the opening riffs of Foo Fighters's "My Hero". They stopped about 30 seconds in however and they went right into the fast paced "Life Of A Salesmen". Now, I thought I was in a crazy crowd during Bad Religion, being in the Yellowcard crowd was like being in a fucking Locust crowd! It was complete fucking insanity and I couldn't believe it. I don't think I stood up straight for any time during it, I was mostly trying to keep my balance and avoid getting crushed by crowd surfers. At one point during the set I had to help lift an unconscious girl into the bouncer pit. The band was alright I suppose. They only played one old song, "October Nights", while the rest was all Ocean Avenue material including "Believe", "Way Away", "Only One", "Breathing" and closer "Ocean Avenue". Nothing off the Underdog EP was played and that was really disappointing. They also mimicked most of the bands during the day by denouncing Bush and the government. By the time they ended though I could barely breathe.
So in all, aside from the sunburns, the dirt, wounds and sweat all over my body, it was a lot of fun and I saw a lot of really amazing bands. Next year though, i'll have to remember for next year to bring one of those filtering masks I saw a lot of people with. Tiger Army had the best set of the day.