I remember seeing the poster for the first Warped Tour in 95. I remember seeing all the bands on the poster, and thinking “There is no way this is a real thing” it was the first time I had ever seen a huge lineup of punk bands in one place. So… we went. I went a few times over the years, and the last time I went to Warped Tour was ten years ago in 2002.
To tell the truth I was pretty much done with Warped Tour in 2002. I had enough of it by then, the long lines, the heat, the short sets, it was enough to make the young punk rocker finally concede to the old man inside.
That part of my twenties was forgotten until recently, when OMBG decided to try to get press credentials to go to Warped Tour this year. I’m not sure really why we pushed so hard to go. We’ve been around for going on two years now, and we have been covering more and more events, I think we just really wanted to prove to ourselves that we were legit enough to get into something that mainstream music magazines and publications go to. It wasn’t until we got our credentials and looked at the lineup that we realized how much had changed in 10 years…
1) There used to be a ton of punk bands and a couple of others…. Now, there’s a lot of “alternative music” and (literally) a couple of punk bands. I saw this turn on my last Warped in 2002. I begin to see the turn of music even back then, as pop punk gave way to emo and screamo, which in turn ten years later turned into “metal” (I use that in loose terms) “hardcore” (this one too) and bad rap groups. I am not sure how this happened. I mean I know that times change. I guess at some point, the tour has to decide if it wants to stay punk or change with the trends. If it didn’t change with the trends, it would bankrupt. The only people that looked kind of like my old friends were some people in the bands and a few of the workers.
Which leads me to my next point…
2) I have nothing in common with typical kids… That’s not a bad thing. At the old punk rock age of 36, I am happy to not be in the same category as a lot of kids. I always liked going to shows as a youth and doing my own thing, but one thing I noticed in this concert was that I never saw so many kids try so hard to look different, they all looked the same. As I stood around tired of crowds and heat, these kids seemed to revel in being put from one crowd to another. It didn’t take long for Brea and I to see in line… Warped tour is a youngin’s game.
The Crowd at Warped
3. DIY vendors have given way to activists and social causes… When I first went to Warped over a decade ago, there was always really cool booths that had DIY clothes or free mohawks to give, or zines to give out. I mean there was always something there like PETA or Truth.com, but for the most part, there was usually something cool to find… This year, I found pretty much no DIY stuff. But I did find… a heap of activists in it’s place.
Pick a Cause... Any cause
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Over the years punk rock has gone from having fun and doing your own thing, to being politically correct and not offending anyone. It just seems that all the fun has been taken out of rock and roll.
3. Vegans have taken a whole new low… So… at Warped Tour, one thing I did notice were at least 4 different vegan organizations. Each with varying degrees of passive aggressiveness. One thing that really stood out, was that one group was actually paying concert goers money to watch a 4 minute video on animal torture. I’ve heard of desperate measures, but this one took the cake. See pic below.
Mike watches vegan video, wants burger afterward
The level of rudeness from their workers, was not surprising. The scoffs of the volunteers that I actually declined their offer of one American dollar to watch a video meant to shame me. Now, look, don’t get me wrong, I believe people have the right to live their lives. If you want soy and leafy greens, more power to you, and more steak for me. But like I said, I believe in the right to live your own life, that means not spreading your agenda on other people. I really miss those old DIY booths.
4. In the midst of this, there is still hope… Now I had just about given up hope that day. Until I met the Jukebox Romantics. I had an interview with them that afternoon. They were cool guys, played in an actual punk band, and put on the best set I saw that day. I was introduced to the fine people on their label, and all in all, they made a possible shitty day pretty damn good.
So to recap, I don’t know what I was expecting. I knew that a lot of things had changed in 10 years, and even being a “music journalist” who helps put out a podcast. I knew that musically, I was going to be at odds with it. I will always have a feeling of discontent with it I guess. Everyone else seemed to have a blast, and our photographer (these pics are mine but Jake’s will be up later) seemed to love it. But thanks to bands like The Jukebox Romantics, I guess it is possible to go home again, even if the family is a little smaller than what you’re used to.