Summer’s finally officially here, which means it’s time for yet another Warped Tour to begin. Yes, the Warped Tour you went to in your youth, and now make fun of in your adulthood, is still going. If you ever catch yourself saying something like “I’m too old for that crap,” you should resign from the music nerd community immediately. There’s some great reasons to continue to go to Warped Tour, even if you’re no longer in the pit but sitting on the picnic benches in back. I’ll give you six good ones here (specifically for June 26 at Shoreline Amphitheater); feel free to leave more in the comments.
Ska’s not easy to find these days. Sure, there’s an occasional ska show, but if you really want to find a gathering of ska bands (and your chance to practice skanking), you’ll be hard pressed to find a better collection of bands. From the harder edge of Voodoo Glow Skulls to Berkeley ska legends The Uptones, the bill has hidden ska sprinkled throughout. Don’t miss GOGO13, HaSkaLA or Bay Area mainstays Monkey. Most of these bands aren’t playing the whole tour, so enjoy your ska treat while you can!
2. Old school punk
The bill at Shoreline is littered with old school punk, including some chances to see bands that rarely make it over to the U.S. When making up your schedule, be sure to add punk stalwarts G.B.H., The Adolescents, The Germs (OK, so it’s actor Shane West singing but this is the best you’ll get), Swingin Utters, and especially The Dickies. There’s also some bands that are too new to be “old school” but are old school in the new way (which I define as any band that existed before Warped Tour) like Bouncing Souls.
3. Andrew W.K.
We’ve written about Andrew W.K. on this site more than once, and it’s no secret that some of us on the editorial staff love the guy. We’re even trying to get him to perform the wedding of some friends of ours. (If you’re reading, AWK, we promise an amazing party!) This year, he’s bringing something along with him called the Andrew W.K. party house, and is performing with a full live band, on tour, for the first time in many years. Having seen him in Austin at SXSW, I can tell you it’s as insane as it was 7 years ago when he was at his peak of mainstream popularity. It’s still a great fist-pumping time, it’s still joyful, it’s still a party. If you skip his set, you’re going to be missing out.
4. All those bands you’ve never heard of
I spent a good amount of time listening to bands I’d never heard of before this week to prepare to cover the Warped Tour. Who do I like? Who don’t I like? I didn’t get to all of them, and that’s OK. I first heard Avenged Sevenfold playing on a truck stage while waiting in line for an autograph at a Warped Tour, and wrote in my Live Journal about how awesome they were. (Yes, this happened.) You never know when some great band you’ve never heard of will be playing at some random stage. I hope you’ll find someone new to love. My personal listening led me to some bands I don’t want to see (Alesana, Emarosa, Emmure), but also bands I definitely want to see. One that came right up my alley is an Australian half-prog, half-screamo band called Closure in Moscow.
5. It’s the best run touring festival ever
There’s a veteran crew on Warped Tour, and you can see it in the small details. Set times are posted, and the sets happen when they’re supposed to. The split main stage runs like clockwork all day, with one band stepping off stage as another one is stepping on. This maximizes your music time, and minimizes your standing-around-waiting-for-music time. It’s a joy to attend, and I’m guessing it’s a joy for the bands to play as well. One fun thing about the festival, and one you must remember before you plan to go, is that the bands draw lots to determine the order in which they’ll play each day, so don’t assume the biggest name is playing last. They might be playing first. Show up early or you may miss out.
6. The shoes (Shilling for The Man without getting paid to do so. It’s the new American way.)
It’s a fact of life that you can’t have a touring festival like this with tons of bands and a reasonable ticket price without the participation of corporate sponsors. Now, you may be opposed to corporate sponsorship as being against the punk ethos, and I’m not going to tell you that you’re wrong for feeling that way; in fact, you’re probably right. I’ve simply become immune to any feelings of dread from seeing a corporate name on top of a festival. Of course, when I’m a happy customer of the sponsor, that’s just better. Let’s say for the sake of discussion that I have at least 5 pairs of Vans sneakers (to say how many I have might seem obsessive). This festival gives me an exciting chance to show off my current favorite pair. What a corporate lackey I am! Anyway, here’s the shoes I’ll be wearing come Saturday (although I’ll be rocking the red laces). Look for me and say hi.
I’ll most likely be the guy sitting at the picnic benches.
As of press time, you could still buy tickets for this online for $33. Thanks to Flickr user HelsinkiValo for the header photo.