Warped Tour 2001 - live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Warped Tour 2001

live in Chicago (2001)

live show

NOTE: For some reason, I can't get my HTML to work and the pictures won't load up. If you'd like to see my pictures from Warped, click here or click on the links after each band.

Well, this is sort of a new thing for Punknews.org, a review of a concert. I'm doing this without Aubin's approval, so how punk rock does that make me? If you answered "More punk rock than this festival!" you would be absolutely correct.

I have been attending the Warped Tour in Chicago since 1997, and have seen it peak in 1998 and then slowly decline since then. 1999 and 2000 brought flavors-of-the-week bands such as Lit and Papa Roach, and 2001 is no exception. Sum 41, Good Charlotte, and Alien Ant Farm all grace the bill this year, doing their job -- getting kids who live off of MTV and haven't ever supported a local punk show into a much bigger enviornment so they can spend way too much of their mom's money. Of course along with the one hit wonders, we get plenty of bands with "cred" like Rancid, AFI, the Vandals, and Less Than Jake which make it okay for the "real" punkers to come out and enjoy the day. Regardless, Warped Tour will always be a mixed bag, and this year was no exception.

My day started off rather badly when I was denied my press and photo passes. Even though I had submitted my application in May and it had been confirmed, I was not on the list, therefore I could not get in. So I had to buy a ticket. Not cool, since I only had so much money and 35 dollars was a bit pricey. Nonetheless, I plowed ahead and got inside an hour late [missing the Ataris -- dammit!]. The first attraction I had my eyes on? Not a band, but wrestling. Incredibly Strange Wrestling, to be precise.
Picture: ISW in action.
Picture: More ISW craziness.
With characters as crazy as 69 Degrees [a Scientologist boy band], El Pollo Diablo [literally, the Devil Chicken], and Macho Sasquatcho, this show was quite a treat. Plus, the ISW people pass out tortillas and encourage you to throw them at the wrestlers. It doesn't get more fun than that.

After the fun was over there, I wandered into the end of the Vandals' set, where I witnessed Warren leading the crowd in a singalong of "I Have A Date." The band sounded a great as they ever have, and were incredibly tight musically. If only I had gotten to see more...

As soon as the Vandals ended, another Kung Fu Records band started up only yards from the end of the crowd. Their name? Antifreeze.
Picture: Antifreeze delivering the goods.
They were a great pop-punk band, and their trio of vocalists really harmonized well. I jaunted over to the merch table as soon as they were done to pick up their newest album, "Four Letter Words". Good stuff.

From there, I ventured to the Volcom stage to see the almighty Lawrence Arms. As they rocked their hometown crowd, singer/bassist Brendan made many derogatory comments towards the festival and promised all their fans that the next time they play in Chicago it will be at the Fireside Bowl for only 5 or 6 bucks. These guys always rock live.
Picture: Hometown boys in action.

After the Arms closed their set, I headed on over to the main stage to see H2O. As I walked, I grew more and more worried about what they would sound like now, as "Go" was really not what the band had ever sounded like before. It was obviously a "Major Label" album, with much more pop-punk than hardcore, and even a cover of Madonna's "Like A Prayer"! As I set myself up for disappointment, H2O cleansed me of all my worries. I've seen them live 3 times, and this was no worse than either other time. They put everything they have into their live performance, and [smartly] they stayed away from their weaker material on the new album and rocked out for 30 straight minutes.

After H2O was the moment I had been waiting for - 311. Now some of you may say that 311 is not punk at all, but I disagree. They started off as an underground band, and success came to them, not the other way around. They've also have enough problems with major labels to know that DIY is better. No matter what you think of them, they put on an *incredibly* solid and diverse live show, playing tracks from every album but "Soundsystem" I believe. The best thing was it wasn't just a "greatest hits" showcase like Green Day's last year -- they played the songs that they LIKE to play. Rock and roll, man.
Picture: Nick Hexum of 311 [this picture is really sweet, I promise!]

The day started to wind down and I started to get more sunburned and bruised, so I again went back to the Volcom stage to see the Benjamins [it was either them or Less Than Jake, who I knew would have an insane pit and I've seen them before anyways]. The Benjamins, for those of you who don't know, are a quartet from Milwaukee, WI and whose two main influences are Weezer and Superdrag [which is fine with me, since those are two of my favorite bands]. They rocked live, and played some new material too, which was a bonus.
Picture: It's all about the Benjamins, baby.

After the Benjamins closed their set, I hauled ass to go see Soulcracker. Yes, that's the same Soulcracker that was on VH1's "Bands On The Run" and the same band who was robbed on that very same show [fucking Flickerstick...]. Anyways, for some reason, even though they had a half hour to play they only played for about 20 minutes, which sucked because they really did rock hard. I picked up their CD [review forthcoming] and it's just as good as I thought it would be. Watch out for this band.
Picture: "Hi! We were on VH1!"

As the sun started to set, what band would be better to close the festival than Me First And The Gimme Gimmes? Jake Jackson [of the Foo Fighters] was playing guitar tonight, even though it had been reported that someone else was filling in for him. I don't know if this was a one-show deal or something, but either way it ruled. The Gimmes were in rare form, with everyone taking turns at telling really lame jokes and Fat Mike throwing the set list into disarray. They played selections from all three of their albums, including their latest, "Blow In The Wind", but, unfortunately, "Country Roads" [which is my favorite Gimmes song personally] was left off the set list. Regardless, their show was a blast, and it came complete with a Tiki Bar [which was being manned by Heather from the Teen Idols]. The band most assuredly was having a ball themselves, and there was no better band to close the day with.
Picture: As supergroups go, this one is as almost good as *Nsync.

Overall, the festival was okay, at best. I saw some good bands, but some of these bands on the tour have no business being there. And speaking of business, what gives with Target of all companies sponsoring the tour? I don't think I've ever seen a spiked bracelet or bondage pants there, but maybe this is a new market they're trying to tap into. But I digress. The Warped Tour has been getting more lackluster every year, although it seems like they're at least trying to get back on track. I wish them best of luck, and even though I'm sure I'll bitch about the festival next year too, I'll still go for the free stuff, if nothing else.