How do you know the summer is really and truly here? There are some sure-fire signs: Your shadow gets shorter. Electricity gets louder. Killer bees arrive from the Yucatan Peninsula. Still, the summer isn't officially summer until the Warped Tour comes to town. Since no one on this site has written a review of the summer institution yet this year [Ed.'s Note: Submitted prior to recent posting, obviously], I've decided to step up and give you my account of it. It's a long show, and thus a long review, so prepare yourself...
You hear a lot of complaints about the Warped Tour, but you never seem to hear anyone complain about it taking place so early in the day. Having a show that starts at 11:00 A.M. just interferes with my sleep schedule. Not wanting to be tired all day, I really tried to get some sleep the night before. After about six hours of laying on my friend's futon, I just accepted that the Warped Tour just wasn't meant to accommodate my nocturnal lifestyle and gave up all hope of getting any sleep.
Exhausted, my friend and I got into his car and set out on our way. After about an hour of driving and a few cans of some neon green energy drink that tasted like a combination of liquefied Sweet Tarts and cat piss, I was rejuvenated and excited about a day of seeing some of my favorite bands live. We pulled into the surprisingly low-traffic parking lot at 10:56, just as our engine began to overheat and four minutes before the gates were scheduled to open. We made our way through the parking lot past a few mini-vans dropping off kids in From First to Last and Underoath shirts and approached the gate to get in line. We didn't need to get in line though, since there wasn't one. We just handed our tickets to a man with no legs who scanned them and we were in.
Once we were in, my first priority was to find the giant blow-up schedule to try to see who was playing when. The first band to play was Senses Fail on the main stage at about 11:15, 45 minutes before the show was scheduled to start, which I'm sure broke the hearts of a lot of concert-goers whose parents hadn't dropped them off yet. I don't care for Senses Fail, but I do think it's shitty to have bands play before fans are told they will begin playing. Anyway, I stood around for a song or two and watched Senses Fail. They couldn't keep my interest and the first band I wanted to see, Anti-Flag, wasn't going to play for about an hour, so I wandered around the venue to kill some time.
After looking around, I've come to the conclusion that the Warped Tour is second only to Halloween in numbers of kids playing dress-up for a day and trying to get bags of free shit. I didn't really partake in the pillaging since I didn't want to have my pockets weighed down with stickers and promo CDs. Besides, nothing being given out interested me. There were Nerf and Super Soaker tents, but they weren't giving out anything, so fuck them. As I walked around people were constantly trying to get me to buy their band's CD or to sign various petitions and e-mail lists. Near the Trojan Condoms tent, a young woman came up to me and held out a handful of condoms for me. I politely declined, but then she told me in a cheery voice that I "might need them today!" I thought about pointing out to her that sex at Warped Tour would most likely result in statutory rape charges, but I decided it was best to just go along with her and shoved the condoms into my pocket as she shouted "yay! Sex is good!" and found another victim.
After taking in the sights and sounds, I ventured back towards the main stage to wait for Anti-Flag to come on. This was to be the first time I'd seen them since the Rock Against Bush Tour in September 2004, and had put out what I feel is their best album since then, so I was interested in seeing them. I waited in the crowd in front of the stage they were to play on while Hellogoodbye finished their set. I'm not familiar with any of their songs, but they did play a cover of "Dammit" that resulted in nearly everyone within earshot singing along, although some looked slightly ashamed that they knew every word and couldn't resist joining in. Shortly after Hellogoodbye left the other main stage, the crowd started a chant of "the people united will never be divided" for a few seconds before Anti-Flag took the stage and burst into "Rank-N-File." One thing I've always enjoyed about their live shows is the energy they put into their show, and this was no exception. If you've seen Anti-Flag live before, then you pretty much have an idea of how this set was. Their set seemed to have a good balance of songs from the new album and older songs. Every song the band played was well-received by the crowd, from "Die for the Government" to "One Trillion Dollars." One notable thing about the set was that there was relatively little talking in between songs for an Anti-Flag show, even a Warped Tour one. To be fair, they still spent more time between songs talking than probably every other band there except for NOFX.
- I'd Tell You But…
- Underground Network
- Fuck Police Brutality
- The Press Corpse
- Got the Numbers
- This Is the End (For You My Friend)
- Die for the Government
- One Trillion Dollars
After Anti-Flag's set, I raced over to the other main stage to watch Less Than Jake. I didn't like the newest LTJ album, but they're always a fun show and I try to catch them whenever they come through. And besides, I had just seen them in February and they only played one song from their new album, and I hoped they would continue the trend. Well, to be honest, I was a little let down by their set. Only one ska song was played, which was bad enough, but at one point during the set, Roger pointed out that "we're the only ska band on this whole damn tour!" The band also noted that they were the only band with a horn section, which was like pouring salt in an open wound since I had to witness Buddy and JR spending almost no time playing their instruments and instead being relegated to backup dancers. I couldn't help but feel bad for them when they got out their toilet paper / leaf blower contraptions only to have both of them simultaneously malfunction. "Horn section" shouldn't mean two guys who act like clowns and toss out free T-shirts. Even the crowd was sub-par, especially for a Less Than Jake show. Maybe it was the heat, but they were virtually dead for most of the set. The crowd seemed to only come alive when they band played their latest single "Overrated (Everything Is)," which was disappointing for me. Less Than Jake was the most disappointing set I caught that day, but to be fair, I'll always be a little disappointed by them unless they bring out Kel Mitchell on stage to sing "We're All Dudes" with them.
- Look What Happened
- Gainesville Rock City
- Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts
- Ghosts of You and Me
- Overrated (Everything Is)
- The Science Of Selling Yourself Short
- Soundtrack of My Life
- Plastic Cup Politics
Once Less Than Jake's set ended, I decided to just hang out since the Buzzcocks were the next band to play on that stage and were one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing. Every Time I Die finished their set and the Buzzcocks came on stage and kicked of their set with "Flat Pack Philosophy," from their new album of the same name. I have to admit, I was surprised at how good they were. They put an amount of energy into their performance that would put other bands on the tour half their age to shame. Of all the main stage bands, they had the smallest, but also one of the best. The crowd was in constant motion, slowing down only once half-way through the set when someone went into a seizure.
- Flat Pack Philosophy
- I Don't Mind
- Love You More
- What Do I Get?
- Orgasm Addict
- Ever Fallen in Love?
After Buzzcocks' set, the most amazing thing happened: a roadie tossed me a can of water that one of the band members had been drinking during their set. It was already opened and only about half full, but since water costs its weight in gold there, I was thankful for my good fortune. I left the main stage area in hopes of finding some shade as the From First to Last crowd began cheering. I finally did underneath a small tree that was located about 30 feet in front of the Hot Topic stage. As I sat around sipping on my "Official Warped Tour Ultra-Purified Water" (which tasted like normal water to me) and watching a plane flying through the sky dragging a banner behind it advertising the new Underoath album, I noticed a No Trigger poster that said they were playing at that very stage in about five minutes. This came as a pleasant surprise to me since I didn't even know that they were going to be there. They played a short, but impressive, 20-minute set on the tiny Hot Topic stage. It was just a shame that so few people seemed to be paying attention to them.
After No Trigger, I walked past the main stage to find it one dancing cookie short of a Chips Ahoy! commercial. I didn't really want to watch the Casualties set for a couple reasons. One was that I've already seen them a few times, and quite frankly you don't need to see them more than once. And I'd hate to make such a broad generalization, but, well…the Casualties' fans kind of smell bad. There, I said it. Choosing not to expose myself to excessive amounts of body odor, I entered the labyrinth of tents to pass some more time.
I walked past the main stage again, this time with Underoath on stage. The singer was giving some speech to the crowd about how they owe everything to Jesus, which got a lot of cheers from their crowd as they went into one of their songs. I walked around aimlessly for a while longer until Rise Against was playing on the main stage. I've never been a huge fan of Rise Against, but they were at least more interesting than walking in circles. I watched about half of their set from within the crowd waiting for NOFX to play next to a kid wearing a pink polo shirt and trucker hat. As Rise Against was ending their set with "Give It All," the kid in the pink polo shirt's girlfriend told him that she wanted to go, to which he replied "are you kidding me?!" But she won out and they made their way out of the crowd as Rise Against walked off stage. 'You poor bastard,' I thought. 'I bet she made you wear that outfit, too.' I really hope she's not his girlfriend anymore, since he ended up missing one of the more entertaining bands of the day.
NOFX walked onto stage and Fat Mike introduced their set by telling the crowd "So earlier today, there was this band playing called Underoath, and they said that they dedicated their entire set list to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Well, I've got to say, Eric and I really took exception to that. You see, we're Jews, so our great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfathers killed Jesus. So anyway, to show how offended we are, when we put together our set list this afternoon, we decided to call it '11 Songs That Really Piss Christians Off,'" which got a huge cheer from the crowd. After a few minutes of talking, the band finally started their first song of the day, "The Brews." Just like any other NOFX show, the band spent about as much time talking as they did playing. All in all, it was a fun set. I didn't think the songs they played were that great, but that's always hit or miss with them. And though they called their set "'11 Songs That Really Piss Christians Off," I only remember ten songs being played. Oh well.
- The Brews
- Leaving Jesusland
- You're Wrong
- Reagan Sucks
- No Fun in Fundamentalism
- Separation of Church and Skate
- Lori Meyers
- Idiot Son of an Asshole
After NOFX had played their last song, Fat Mike said "now go watch whatever band's playing on the other stage. Wait, what's the next band on this stage?," to which myself and a few other people shouted back at him that the Bouncing Souls were next. His reply was "fuck, just stay here. They put out one of the best records of the year." It was possibly the best advice any of the bands gave from the stage that day. I hung out by the stage as I watched Motion City Soundtrack play on the other stage. As with Rise Against, I'm not a huge fan of Motion City Soundtrack, but every time I hear an MCS song, I find myself enjoying it. They played a pretty fun set, and surprised myself by knowing the words to almost all of the songs they played. They ended their set with "The Future Freaks Me Out," and then it was time for the Souls.
They started off their set with "The Gold Song," and as much as I like the recorded version of that song, it sounded even better live. Then they played "Say Anything," which has a special place in my heart since it was on the Punk-O-Rama 3
comp that made me absolutely fall in love with punk rock back in middle school. Greg then informed the crowd that "we're the Bouncing Souls, and we'll be playing some new songs for you. And some old ones, too," and went into their next song, sticking to the "less talk, more rock" formula for the rest of the show. Every song resulted in a sing-along, with Greg and the mic spending about half of the show out with the crowd. If you've never seen the Bouncing Souls live, you're missing out on one of the most consistently fun live shows in punk music.
- The Gold Song
- Say Anything
- Lean on Sheena
- That Song
- The Something Special
- Hopeless Romantic
- East Coast! Fuck You!
- Midnight Mile
- Sing Along Forever
- True Believers
After the Bouncing Souls, I was in need of some rest. I made my way over to the amphitheatre, which would provide me with not only an actual seat, but also shade. The downside? The amphitheatre was where the Vagrant stage was located, where Silverstein (who is actually a Victory band) was currently playing. Since I had nothing else to do while I was resting, I decided to attempt to watch them. I have to admit, I actually enjoyed myself. I found myself laughing my ass off as their singer would announce the hilarious cliché before each of the band's equally cliché songs. Once I had my fill, I decided to go back to the main stage where Joan Jett and the Blackhearts had started playing. As I was walking back, some kid with a black bandana over his face handed me an unopened can of water, said "here's a souvenir," and ran off. "Thank you masked stranger!" I shouted as he disappeared in the crowd. I couldn't believe my luck. Had this really happened to me twice?
I drank my precious water and went over to the main stage to find a fairly large crowd that seemed to be primarily made up of concert-goers that were either over 30 or under 10 enjoying Joan Jett's set. It was kind of interesting to see the security guards singing along with songs like "Crimson & Clover" and "I Love Rock 'N' Roll." From what I saw, she seemed to put on a fun set, and the crowd was certainly enjoying themselves. Once her set ended, I made my way up closer to the stage to wait for the band I was probably looking forward to the most, Against Me! Thursday played on the other stage while I waited. I was never really a fan before, and their set didn't do anything to change that.
Against Me! took the stage as the last band of the day as Tom announced "we're Against Me! from Gainesville, Florida" and went into "Cliché Guevara." The band wasted no time between during their set, hitting the crowd with song after song. I had wondered how Against Me!'s show would translate to the Warped Tour stage, which turned out to work surprisingly well. The crowd that had gathered for Against Me! was smaller than most of the other bands on the main stage, but it was the best of the day. It became clear how dedicated their fans are with the whole crowd singing along with every word at the top of their lungs, except for a new song, which sounded strong. The amount of energy put out by the fans was matched by the band, who ended up putting on the best set of the day.
- Cliché Guevara
- From Her Lips to God's Ears (The Energizer)
- Rice and Bread
- Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious
- Don't Lose Touch
- Reinventing Axl Rose
- Sink, Florida, Sink
- You Look Like I Need a Drink
After Against Me!'s set was over, I began walking toward the front gate but was stopped by the head of security who informed me that I had to leave the other end of the venue for some reason. So the walk back to the car was unnecessarily long and kind of a pain in the ass, but overall, it was worth the thirty-something dollars I paid.
* - I tried to remember as much of the songs and as close to the original order as possible. Don't kill me if they're a little off.