Vans Warped Tour
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Do you remember that show you went to just to see the opening band? Maybe it was going to Blink 182 to see Jimmy Eat World a couple years ago or even going to that Alanis Morissette show just to see Weezer way back in the day. The rationale went something like this: “Despite the inflated ticket price due to ____’s presence, I will get to see this great band, and the presence of all of these silly ____-lovers will only make the experience that much more entertaining.”
Of course, it never really worked out. All those Alanis-or-whoever-lovers got tiresome with unexpected rapidity and the audience’s general lack of enthusiasm for the openers interfered with your own ability to enjoy the performance. The T-shirt prices were inflated, everyone was eating weird, drippy nachos and you couldn’t get comfortable despite the admirable rocking by Hum, Shudder to Think, Supergrass or whomever was the brilliant second-string act of the moment.
That experience is the Vans Warped Tour in a nutshell, except on a larger scale. Imagine performances by two or three quality artists instead of one. This would be a big improvement except that these performances are spread over an entire day, typically in a cleared-out parking lot, making the whole situation inescapably dreadful.
Special note to 15-year-old boys: None of this applies to you. Please ignore this article and immediately start mowing lawns for ticket money.
Don’t even try and tell me that age isn’t a factor. If I were asked to write this piece six years ago, I don’t know how many times I’d have used the word “rad” by now, despite having a taste in music that has changed very little over that time. The tour simply stimulated a certain part of me that no longer exists. At the time I was going to the Warped Tour, I was also going to smaller shows every weekend whether or not I knew anything of the bands. These days, a group can consider themselves fortunate if I linger around for 10 minutes of their set. As strange as it seems, the boredom that prompted me to do what seemed like sort of interesting things (like going out and seeing bands) has disappeared and been replaced by seemingly mundane things that just don’t really seem to bore me anymore.
The Warped Tour is not the worst place a bored kid can go, to be honest. From my memories of the ’97-’99 tours, there was neat skating, plenty of cold water and always one great band (Rocket From the Crypt, Rancid and Social Distortion, respectively). This year, Rancid is returning to the tour along with notable acts Anatomy of a Ghost and Talib Kweli, and the resulting lineup is neither stronger nor weaker than it has been in the past. If anything, changes in punk aesthetics have had a positive impact, as the likes of Blink 182 and NOFX have given way to the slightly less grating sounds of trendsetters Thrice and Poison the Well.
I guess one reason that it is difficult to muster up excitement about the tour is that one of its main attractions in the past was the huge bag of free posters, buttons and cassingles that could instantaneously update your bedroom, locker or backpack. Nowadays, I desire these things about as much as I do the devoted attentions of 15-year-old girls, preferring objets d’art as decoration and fully matured women as spit receptacles.
So, kids, that’s how it is. Although I probably will not make it to this year’s Warped Tour, sneak the new Wire album into Pennywise’s bus for me, would you?
Their minds have gotta be blown some day.