Once upon a time the Vans Warped Tour was fun. There was grass to sit on, room to walk and shade to be shared by all. Summer meant fun times with friends and music meant entertainment in the park. The ticket price was low, the lines were bearable, the crowd was friendly and the mess was lightly scattered throughout the venue. Gone are the days of innocence, the Warped Tour has become far too mainstream for good times to ensue.
This year’s Warped Tour was seemingly attractive to the potential punk rock consumer. It not only had the usual skate ramp and numerous stages to envelop in musical seduction anyone who entered, but the bands this year were actually worth seeing, even if it meant they only had 30 minute sets to accommodate everyone on the tour. One would be bombarded with guilt if they didn’t feel some sort of tug at their little heartstrings not to attend such an event. No one could see the list of bands featured on this years tour and not be slightly lost on a whirlwind of excitement.
This is exactly what the evil man behind the curtain wants, an irresistible ad campaign that leaves no room for question. Sad that we have become a society entranced in the hypnotic consumerist mindset. Where have our brain cells gone where we could actually use them to look at the broader picture and ask ourselves, “How much fun am I actually having from this?”
For those who thought “Vans” meant “extreme sports,” they were wrong. For those who thought “warped” meant “alternative” or “underground,” they were wrong. When this tour started, the emphasis was on the extreme sports with music to accompany it, and while “Vans Warped Tour” actually MEANT Vans Warped Tour back then, it has become a feeding frenzy for America’s MTV-obsessed youth. There used to be bikes, boards and skates on a huge half-pipe, and now all we’re left with is a giant crowd and a little ramp off to the side that people only use for a source of shade. Punk Rock doesn’t mean the same thing now as it did back then. Or if it does, it has been pushed aside for reasons like money and advertising.
But all money issues aside, the actual event itself has less and less to offer as each year passes. And maybe being a veteran of this tour means more reason to be disappointed, but for the most part, it’s difficult to see how this atmosphere is enjoyable for anyone.
The crowds for bands like Transplants, Offspring, Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance were absolutely insane. Trying to maneuver through these crowds without getting injured, sick or passing out was a challenge. That’s certainly not to say that those who were doing all the pushing and shoving weren’t enjoying themselves, but for those who were there for the music and for the smaller children in the crowd, it minimized the music into a minor distraction as people tried to figure out the best route to take in order to escape. For those who were lucky enough to get there before the first massive wave of people showed up, band’s like The Bled, Strung Out, Armor For Sleep and The Explosion put on great shows to a small crowd of people with very little drama and a whole lot of rock.
Now I won’t sit here and say that it was some sort of prison, there were SOME good things about it, but the question really is which side of things outweighs the other? I commend the older bands who have stuck through this and who share the responsibility for making this tour so successful like NUFAN and Dropkick Murphy’s, but I also feel a sense of sadness when I see those bands playing their hearts out to kids who can’t even move or breathe and who are getting their asses kicked in an attempt to have some fun. However, I will say that this is probably the best time to bust out some cash and go on the ol’ annual shopping spree. The bounty of merch sold on this tour is completely overwhelming. There’s everything from hoodies, t-shirts, belts, stickers and posters, to DVDs, CDs, body jewelry and of course, VANS. I am also pleased to announce the incorporation of the veggie burgers stand, and Wahoo’s Fish Tacos bringing a little relief to those who in the past have had to sustain themselves on bottled water and PowerAde for 10 hours.
The solution to the Warped Tour woes is simple: fewer bands, fewer tickets sold, and more shade, which leads to less chaos, less confusion and more fun to be had by all.
– Sarah Conway, July 29, 2005
To say that this year’s Warped tour was disappointing would be a drastic understatement. It has become a gigantic machine of advertising and drastically horrible pop punk. I once saw the romantic appeal of such a musical outing, but no longer.
In any case, the day which always begins badly for nerdy press kids like me once again began with frustration. Upon my arrival the press table was stationed in its usual place by the massively long will call line. It was around noon and the press table was manned by two unfamiliar ladies who handed me an orange wristband for my press pass. This pathetic paper thread that no longer go the press backstage was the biggest insult since Fall Out Boy became Warped Tour headliners. It was just another reminder of how my job apparently no longer matters.
After dealing with the bureaucracy I jetted towards the press tent. The press schedule looked blank stayed that way for the entire afternoon. Dropkick Murphy’s, MXPX, Midtown, Kevin Lyman, and pretty much every other band refused interviews. I felt like their condescending refusal was incredibly unprofessional, and just added to the endless list of insults. I just felt like European paparazzi the whole day.
I did see some pretty good performances that day though, especially from Billy Idol. The over-the-hill 80s rock god was incredible to watch and amazing to photograph. His age didn’t affect his performance in the least, performing even better than his younger peers on the tour. It was almost like father time had graced him with a pause and energy to match it.
Another impressive performance came from Dropkick Murphy’s, the Boston, Irish Catholic deviants. Their energy was incredibly impressive and ended up creating one of the most rambunctious crowds of the day. It was just nice to see a group that we music geeks can call authentic.
By end of the day I was left tired and sunburned, the usual hangover of Warped tour. It was one of the most miserable days I ever had covering the annual punk rock summer camp. Nevertheless, the tour does offer us nostalgic possibilities to look back on the past tours that actually had substance.
– Josh Petre, July 29, 2005