Warped Tour 2003 - live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Warped Tour 2003

live in Chicago (2003)

live show

Ah, the Warped Tour. I've been going every year since 1997 [when many of this year's attendees {and possibly bands} were still in grade school], and I've seen it's ups and downs. This year's lineup didn't look incredibly strong on paper, but as most Warped Tours do, it turns around once you're in the heat of battle. Allow me to begin my day.

With my younger sister in tow, we took in the Ataris' early afternoon performance. I've been a fan of this band for much too long to have never seen them live before now, and I enjoyed their quick half hour. They opened with "I Won't Spend Another Night Alone," played "Boys Of Summer" and "In This Diary" somewhere in the middle, and predictably closed with "San Dimas High School Football Rules" [with one of the guys from Simple Plan filling in on guitar instead of the usual audience member participation]. The band also threw in some more oldies like "Your Boyfriend Sucks," and it was enough to make me feel 16 again. It was a nice way to kick off the day.

We quickly hustled offstage and over to one of the side stages where we caught Damone in mid-set. What the band lacked in stage presence they made up for in killer guitar riffs. "At The Mall" ripped, and the band's set closing cover of Weezer's "You Gave Your Love To Me Softly" sounded like it was meant to be sung by a girl all along. Highly enjoyable.

At this point, the next band we wanted to see wasn't for another hour or so, so merchandise shopping we went [after catching the opening notes of the Unseen, and realizing that we had already heard three songs but they all sounded the same]. As I bought my Potshot/Suicide Machines split EP [limited edition! Japanese import! Only available in Japan or at the Warped Tour!], I heard the sounds of the Dropkick Murphys wafting over the merch tents. I recognized "Fields Of Athreny" as well as "Gonna Be A Blackout Tonight," and I'm assuming the band went over fairly well as many an Irish flag was seen waving in the pit.

After spending too much money, it was back to one of the main stages to see hometown boys Rise Against tear shit up. The band's first "real" Warped appearance [last year they commandered the end of Death By Stereo's set for a quick three songs] was well anticipated, as the crowd grew larger and larger with each passing minute. Tim and company took the stage to an immense round of cheers, and they ruled the school for a half hour straight, kicking it off with "Black Matches and Gasoline." Older stuff like "1000 Good Intentions" and "Alive and Well" were whipped out as well as stuff off Revolutions Per Minute like "Blood Red White and Blue" and "Like The Angel." Traditional set closer "Six Ways 'Til Sunday" ended the rock show, and while I must deduct points for the lack of "Gethsamane," they still earned high marks.

Glassjaw was up next.

Glassjaw was fucking siiiiiiiiiiick, bro.

Sorry, thought I was from Long Island for a second. But seriously, Glassjaw was sick. Their all-too-short 7 song set was highlighted by a new song called "Natural Born Farmer," which blew me [and most of their audience] away. Their entire setlist:
Tip Your Bartender
Mu Empire
Ape Dos Mil
The Gilette Calvacade of Sports
Cosmopolitan Bloodloss
Natural Born Farmer
Siberian Kiss

So yeah, Glassjaw slayed. As the last of their feedback rang out, I hauled ass over to the Suicide Machines, where their action-packed set was already underway. I jumped into the pit for the first [and last] time of the day, and marvelled at the band's diversity. All 5 albums were covered:
Destruction By Definition - New Girl, Break The Glass
Battle Hymns - DDT, Someone
S/T - Permanent Holiday
Steal This Record - All My People, Honor Among Thieves
A Match and Some Gasoline - Did You Ever Get A Feeling Of Dread?
They probably played more, but that's all my noise-addled brain can recall at this time. All in all, the Machines were highly entertaining and seemed amazed at the overly positive response they got.

So after I got thoroughly sweaty in the skank/mosh pit, I went over to meet my sister who was watching Rufio. After she filled me in on the bands she watched [Mest - "okay," Rancid - "awful," Bowling For Soup - "terrible"], we watched the California quartet do their thing. Again, I'll begrudgingly admit that their music is good, but please, replace the singer. He's seriously holding you back. The amount of pre-pubescent gash watching these guys was absolutely amazing - I could've picked up any one of them simply by saying "hey baby, I can buy you cigarettes and beer legally." Anyway, I know the band played "Countdown," "White Lights," and "Set It Off," and some older stuff that sent the crowd completely apeshit. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

Finding myself with another hour of downtime until Andrew WK, we wandered around some more. As I bought up old 22 Jacks CDs at the SideOneDummy booth [they're only 5 bucks each! What a steal!], I overheard Simple Plan on the main stage.

And then I heard Bad Religion on the main stage.

That's right, everyone's favorite Canadian pop-punk band was covering Bad Religion's "American Jesus." As my jaw dropped in horror, I looked at the S1D merch guy. He just shook his head. I asked if this was a daily occurance, and he nodded in assent. Wow. Simple Plan needs to die, and soon.

So after being aurally raped, there was only one hope - that the audio messiah himself, Andrew WK, would baptize me with his blood, sweat, and partying. He did all of that and more.

I don't want to go into detail on just how amazing my Andrew WK experience was. Basically, here's the short version - he got my sister and I up onstage, where we enjoyed such AWK classics as "Girl's Own Love," "Ready To Die," and "She Is Beautiful." The crowd chanted multiple times for "We Want Fun," and Andrew obliged with a ripping version of the Jackass: The Movie Soundtrack single. He even featured a new song called "Your Rules" that will be on his upcoming album called The Wolf coming out on September 9th, and I Was singing along by the end of it [like any good AWK song]. As the set drew to a close with "Party Hard" followed by "I Get Wet," Andrew beckoned all of us stodgy press types in the wings out on stage, where we danced it up like there was no tomorrow. If you were watching, and saw a tall fat man in a blue shirt and khaki shorts pick up Andrew, that was yours truly.

Basically, Andrew WK was fucking amazing. I could talk about how wonderful he was for many more paragraphs, but I hope you'll just go see him yourself and realize just how amazing and inspirational a person he really is.

Thrice was up next on the other main stage, but I was much too tired to get up close, so I hung back and caught the last few songs of their set from a distance. They sounded tight as hell, and there was many a raised fist in the front of the crowd, shaking along with every cymbal crash. Their metal riffs were the perfect end to my day.

So I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to see, and I especially was biased against smaller bands today [giving pretty much every smaller band I even considered checking out the shaft]. So I ask you to pick up my slack - go watch Anatomy of a Ghost and Vaux, both bands are amazing. With that said, I can safely say that this was the most fun I've had at a Warped Tour ever. Go. Don't miss Rise Against, Glassjaw, or Andrew WK. They were easily the best three bands I saw.

[Oh, and in case you were wondering, no one came up to me and asked for free stuff, so I just ended up chucking it all offstage during the Andrew WK last song melee.]