The hand-sprayed tie read, “So Rad.” White paint on a black tie, with a simple enough message in stenciled, block letters from a can of Kryon. Looking back on this picture I took of lead Bouncing Souls singer, Greg Attonito, wearing said tie I couldn’t help but agree with his fashion designer. The 2006 Warped Tour was one of my favorites in the 10 or so years since I’ve been going, since Rocket from the Crypt wore their Reynolds Wrap costumes in the summer sun, saved by the San Francisco breeze coming into the Pier.
The day for Warped started as many had before (with the exception and luxury of having my friend Dan and former Warped crew dude fax me the schedule prior to my arrival), by figuring out the game plan. Nearly running to the first set on the schedule, I made it in before the “three first song” cut off to catch Rise Against, who’s crowd nearly drowned out the band’s sound that could be heard clear from the parking lot.
Hanging out back stage has its advantages – shade and access to water. And walking distance to Brooklyn’s with a real bar and clean bathrooms. When you get to a certain age, you tend to appreciate the simple things in life like that. And there are the occasional “star” sightings like Dave Grohl and of course, Joan Jett, who came by on her BMX just as us photographers were gabbing about. We of course all raised our cameras and began shooting, and she responded with rolled eyes and a shaking of the head.
But that was not nearly the diva moment compared to Jared Leto. While waking from one gig to another and jumping water puddles and a sea of empty cups, I noticed him in the crowd watching one of the bands. I had interviewed 30 Seconds to Mars almost a year ago, bringing my friend Jen along for a bit of time on their tour bus. I didn’t expect him to remember me or that occasion (although we did do a group hug afterwards, which was quite funny), but I thought I would at least say a quick “hi.” Standing there, I saw that Jared had his hand over his mouth as if he was trying to hide his identity. I couldn’t imagine that he was actually using such a strategy, since you could clearly see who he was, and approached him, jokingly, “Are you trying to disguise yourself? I’m sorry to interrupt, but I just wanted to say hello,” and I went on to explain how we had the interview, blah, blah, blah.
He took his hand down and stared at me as if I’d just slapped his face and said, “Well, I was trying!”
Two girls came up behind me with their camera phones and began clicking. “Thanks a lot!” he yelled at me, as if I’d dropped a winning lottery ticket down the drain. All I could do was laugh as I walked away, and he continued to yell, “Thanks a lot!” Maybe he needs to pick up Spy monthly or something, or rent Pink Panther and get one of the Salty Dog get-ups, or, I don’t know, pick up sunglasses, hat and a fake mustache. Regardless, it was the laziest disguise I’d ever seen, and after all, we were at a rock concert, not a sound stage. Later in the day he was out with the common people again, looking more comfortable in front of the camera as someone filmed him for an interview, and afterwards, rallied the little girls to follow him to wherever he was headed next. But it seemed to be done in such a rehearsed fashion, it was my turn to roll my eyes. I wish I had run into his brother Shannon instead. Now that guy had a sense of humor.
The Sounds were as saucy as ever thanks to the lead songstress, Maja Ivarsson, who, despite the fact that her onstage dress was a dress, managed to jump and kick in mangled heels. The crowed seemed to love this, as did Mike Davis, our trusty Kaffeine Buzz writer.
D.O.R.K. got a thrill at the Denver show, as tour founder Kevin Lyman gave them the green light to play the center “Jack-in-the-Box” stage where Rise Against and Saves the Day had played earlier in the day. It had been a while since I’d seen the group with their new members. Looking at their immense stage presence made me realize just how far they’d come since a gig at some Irish bar in Aurora over four years ago. Lead guitarist Schuyler was on fire, and he almost combusted in the heat, going all out to the point of vomiting but without skipping a beat. “I didn’t even know he threw up,” said the newest member of the group, Brian Johnson, “and I was on stage with him.” Now that’s rock ‘n’ roll.
The Bouncing Souls put on one of the more memorable shows thanks to the raucous and soul affecting tracks from their latest, Gold Record. The track “Letter from Iraq” had hit a chord with many, since the words to the song were written by an actual veteran of the war, Garett Reppenhagen. As luck would have it, he and friends from the same battalion had traveled to Denver to catch the Bouncing Souls’ set. Bringing Garret on stage, the band had him speak to the crowd to introduce the song. With all eyes and ears on him, the crowd took in every word as he spoke of what it’s really like for soldiers like him in this war, and with a final thought, “Support the warriors, not the war. Bring our troops home!” he walked to the side stage to the sound of cheers and screams.
As the song played and the Bouncing Souls jumped and sang Garret’s words, the veteran saw a young guy in the crowd singing along. Their eyes met as Garret pointed the Soul’s fan out to his Army buddy, and then I got chills as the fan saluted them both. It was a moment I’ll never forget.
In past years I’m usually too burnt and tired to deal with any “after party” affairs, but this year I somehow got a second wind, helped a bit by a few drinks and great conversation at Brooklyn’s. Hanging out with the D.O.R.K. guys and hearing how they were doing with the tour (look for our upcoming interview with Donovan and Bryan), with some of the crew, including soundman Carson from Jersey, and watching how this big, traveling family unwound at the end of the long day, I realized that Warped was much more than what took place during those 20 minute sets. This was a perfect example of people doing what they love for a living, and making many friends along the way. Music had brought them all together, and despite the long days, living on a bus with 10 or 15 other people (and all the odors that go along with that), and only getting a shower every few days, this group was the reason why this tour has endured for so many years.
photos by Kim Owens