Sometimes I think you need marathon training for these music festivals. To really cover a show, you need to have your stopwatch out and run from one stage to the next. So it was perplexing to wander inside and see such a mass of people sitting on the grass doing nothing with so much activity and bands playing everywhere you turned. What a good use of their $29 bucks.
It was still early in the day when we arrived, and already the place was thoroughly littered with paper plates, food, cans, and other trash. Having more trashcans may have alleviated a lot of it, but we could also tell that a lot of the people just didn’t give a damn.
After tripping on scattered water bottles along the way, we made it to the Teal Stage where Reel Big Fish had the crowd roaring in full form, bouncing to songs from their latest release, “Cheer Up!” It had been six years since I’d seen them last, and four years since their last release. Today they were as energetic as ever; including one horn player who looked like he’d spent his last dime shopping on the Haight in S.F., donning a full 70’s fro and psychedelic gear. When they broke out a ska version of “Take on Me,” an A-Ha song from the eighties (explanation for all you kiddies), they got both the front and backstage audience singing along in unison.
Minutes after they finished their set, here came the guys from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones on the next stage. Although we love the men in black, we chose to run to see Quarashi whom we hadn’t seen before. Hailing from Reykjavik, Iceland, Quarashi is a “the band that comes from nowhere but listens to the whole world,” that has been getting a lot of buzz over the past year or so. We got to see and hear why. The emphasis on hip-hop was evident in the rhymes and rhythms the lead singers, bassist, and the rest of the group blew off the stage. But it was the gritty punk rock riffs and streetwise personas, ranging from skaters to graffiti artists, that brought their urban jive to the forefront.
Next on the hit list was No Use For A Name. Poor guys barely got through their first song before having to stop the show to notify security that “there’s someone down on the ground out there that needs your help,” yelled lead singer and guitarist, Tony Sly, as he pointed towards the crowd. A guy in his early to mid twenties had either had too much drugs or sun, or not enough water, or a combination of everything. The band was pretty irritated and bummed this had happened, having to hold up the show while they carried the limp, wide eyed guy off to the side lines where paramedics attended to him and carried him off in a stretcher.
The Athletes at the vert ramp were having better luck, throwing tricks, twists, and flips to entertain the crowd. And at the head of the attention pack was of course, Rick Thorne, who ripped a back flip to the cheers of the sun worshipers below. The Moto-X guys were going when we first got there, but to our disappointment, never came back for their scheduled encore.
Experiencing Flogging Molly’s set was like taking a shot of Irish whiskey, times seven. Right off the bat lead singer and guitarist, Dave King, reveals their love the frothy, brown liquid from their homeland. “If there’s one thing I hate, it’s not having any Guinness. And this bastard just brought me a Guinness. His name is Josh, “King says, toasting his glass in the air with gratitude, “and I’m going to give him a blow job later.” Right then, the seven piece band jumps into “Selfish Man,” getting the crowd jumping to their Irish rock by ripping into their instrumental madness – from Bridget Regan smoking the strings on her violin, Matt Hensley’s brazen attack on his accordion, to Bob Schmidt bouncing around the stage with his mandolin.
Flogging Molly brought smiles in their happy drunken manner while bringing consciousness with their sobering statements, “If there’s one valuable thing you should have – no matter if your flag is green, blue, or red – it’s freedom!” King yells as they go into the song of the same name. They also gave our town it’s props, “Denver is the highlight of the fucking tour, whether it’s the Ogden, the Bluebird, or Adam’s County,” King boasts. After shaking his jig thang around the stage, he took a bit of a stab at a popular religious institution, “We’re very grateful to the Catholic Church for what you’ve done for our country,” singing with a grin, “Bless me Father for I have sinned, but Father, so have you!”
Getting to the front stage to shoot (with a camera, okay?) Alkaline Trio, I was DEE-NIED, even though I had been passing by this particular security guy all day. After checking back with the Warped Tour press manager, Wendy, she had to personally tell the security guy I was okay to pass in his presence. By then, it was one song past the three-song maximum, so we were S.O.L.
There was plenty going on at the side stages, including Punkrock.net stage where local boys The Fairlanes, then The Gamits got to scream and sweat in the hot sun to the delight of the excitable kids.
The Eyeliners, the high energy female fronted band from Albuquerque, was packed into a small and humid tent with their fans. Lead guitarist, Gel, did an amazing job of performing her signature guitar licks and rock poses on the tiny stage, inviting more to join her in song. Later in the day, lead singer, Laura, was snacking on some salad back stage where we got a chance to find out where their travels will take them next. The gals, and guy, haven’t seen their Albuquerque home for a while, having been on a non-stop tour
schedule for months, going back to SXSW performance in March. Even when the Warped Tour ends in August, they’re still looking to keep their live performances going. But this time, it’s over seas, “We’re hopefully going to try to make it to Denmark in October to headline a festival there. From what we see with our record sales, they really seem to like us.” There’s just one hitch for Laura, “Thing is I hate flying. But I guess I’m just going to have to deal with that. Maybe I’ll take some sedatives or something so I can just pass out on the plane.”
When Bad Religion came on, they must have been fashionably late and playing into NOFX’s timeslot, because after just three songs into the Bad Religion set, NOFX started playing on the next stage just 100 feet away. The Bad guys didn’t know what the hell was going on, and walked to the side of the stage laughing and shaking their heads at NOFX’s shenanigans. After just one song, the prank was over and Fat Mike, lead singer for NOFX, directed everyone back to the Bad Religion stage so they could finish their set. Silly boys.
When NOFX did get to play, one particular player seemed to keep the political side of punk rock alive through his fashion statement. For some reason, a girl on the side stage was flipping him off, and El Hefe replied, pointing at her, “You think I’m being a cock sucker? Here’s the real cock sucker!” blowing up his chest, which was covered with a ‘He’s not my president’ President Bush t-shirt, diving right into a song, “I wanna see Dick Chaney get real sick,” while emphasizing their distaste for our current government personnel.
After it was all over, Bad Religion drummer, Brooks Wackerman, stopped for a quick snap shot. When asked where the rest of the gang was, Wackerman replied “They’re getting massages,” as he made his way to get his. Massages? The Warped Tour is known to be brutal for performers, even for fans who show up for one day. So it’s understandable how grueling those 30-minute sets can be, causing all kind of tension in the shoulders while reeking havok on your cuticles.
As the sun began to set, Monica, the Kaffeine cohert, and I high-fived that we’d made it to the finish line. A great day by far, but it was very clear that everyone and everything at that show was ready for a makeover, from the littered grounds to the mud people who were trying to re-live their 21st Century Woodstock experience (go figure). Although there was an after-party at Tulagi’s, the only thing on the show schedule was a long, hot shower. Just wish I’m was rock n’ roll enough to get a massage. Damn.
-Kim Owens, email@example.com
MORE PHOTOS FROM THE VAN’S WARPED TOUR
no USE FOR A NAME
REEL BIG FISH
Quarashi…with something sticking out of his pants…AND THE EYELINERS
THE FAIRLANES, AND BOB FROM FLOGGING MOLLY
MORE FLOGGING MOLLY