It was my first Warped Tour. My dislike for festivals reaches far back into my youth, when I was the target demographic for this event (12-16 year olds would be my guess). The only exception I made was a couple of Ozzfests- because I heart Ozzy. Of course, I was total jailbait at those, but that’s another story.
I have to thank Umlaut for arranging VIP access for me- without it my experience would not have been as unique. However, I got a text from him at 10am, while I was still lying around thinking about my Air Guitar review, warning me that Gallows would be on at 11. I swiftly replied: PM? Haha no- Warped Tour is an early affair for the kids. Luckily it doesn’t take me long to get ready.
I was able to get to the Guest line right at 11, but due to inefficiencies of multiple band guestlists and such, the line moved at a snail’s pace and I didn’t get in until NOON. I missed Gallows…..HRC starts off her day kinda bummed out. So I start wandering around kinda overwhelmed by the whole thing….feeling old and uncool, except for some of the old punk band members and roadies, who still make me feel like jailbait. It kinda felt like I was in some sort of age purgatory- everyone seemed to be either 10-15 years younger or 20 years older than me. Weirdness.
The schedule situation was another issue for me. I’m a planner, and there isn’t a pre-released schedule for this show. It’s just all posted on a huge inflatable bulletin board. So I hunt that down and take some notes in my iPhone to make my gameplan. Warped Tour needs an iPhone app…..hahaha not.
I knew that I wanted to see Dommin, so for fear of getting lost I made my way over to that stage. These smokin’ hot girls were up there performing some girly punk- Civet from LA. At first glance I was really worried it was going to be some watered down Hot Topic girl punk, but they sing about alcohol, bitches, and lust- good stuff. The bassist looks like Traci Lords circa Cry Baby. Umlaut and Photo Ray joined me to catch the Dommin set- yay familiar faces!
At about this point, I noticed the Dommin guys milling around getting ready for their set. I’m watching Civet from the side of the stage, and Kris Dommin walks up by me. Well, Umlaut thinks this is funny because he knows I have a little crush on him, so he whips out his camera and shoots a candid pic of me attempting to make small talk. Goth kids in the sunshine!
MOVING ON…I’ve seen Dommin twice this year, so obviously I’m into their whole goth rock thing….it was interesting to see them perform in the daylight, just like seeing NIN do so when I followed the NIN/JA tour around. For performing early and to a rather unideal crowd, they brought a lot of energy and showed me that they are growing as a band.
The next couple of hours were spent wandering around near the main stage and the old school punk stage- never staying long enough for a full report of anything. I saw a lot of sunburned kids that had been kicked in the face. The beer lines are short because everyone is underage. I didn’t realize that every band has a booth where they sell their merch and do meet and greets- that’s pretty cool for the kids. At one point I met up with my friend Mick Punk who introduced me to Arturo Vega, the artistic director for the Ramones. Mick introduced me as a ‘famous blogger’ (ha! thanks, Mick), and then I had a short conversation with Arturo about the appeal of music blogs. Kinda interesting.
Then I decided to catch In This Moment, who I’d seen a while back open for Ozzy and Rob Zombie. Maria Brink has created quite a stir in the metal community- she can scream and she’s really well endowed is what it comes down to. She was recently in Playboy, though she wasn’t in the buff. I wish I could like this band, but it’s just too manufactured for me…and Maria looks more and more like a Bratz doll. This is not a good thing.
Next, I was very excited to see Shooter Jennings….though I was having a really hard time wrapping my head around him being part of this festival. I’ve seen him several times before, but surprisingly not since I started writing HRC: opening for Willie Nelson in Austin, an extremely drunken set at The Independent in SF when I first moved here, and at Irving Plaza in NYC. As soon as we walked backstage, I saw him standing there. He’s shorter then me. He walked by several times but I couldn’t drum up the courage to ask for a picture….
Shooter Jennings is just about the only new ‘country’ music I can listen to, and he’s really got a lot of rock elements in there, so the country music label is more an association with his legacy as Waylon Jennings’ son than anything. As a Texan, seeing him reminds me of home….and it’s always good to revisit your roots, from afar, under the Bay Bridge in liberal SF.
The set was a short but sweet- Shooter transitioned from playing guitar to piano a couple times. I admired his intricate leather tooled guitar strap bearing his name, and he has a tattoo of a single action on his arm, and a bullet on his hand. Shooter is cool.
Next up was Black Tide– teenagers in a metal band. I only caught their last couple of songs- but these guys are lewd and crude- a rare find in a young metal band these days. The first thing I hear them say is, “I hear you guys like to suck cock”. Whoa there little man. Watching them thrash around on stage got me interested- they were a bit messy, but I’d check them out on their own sometime.
I tried to catch NOFX on the main stage to end my day. Umlaut and I walked up to the side of the stage, but became completely surrounded by friends and family and couldn’t see, so we decided to call it a day one song in.
Warped Tour is interesting- it’s good that the kids have a cheap festival ($40) where they can experience a wide variety of music and meet the bands. They may be much more tattooed and pierced than back in my day, but it’s good to see them still into the DIY punk aesthetic and thrashing around to metal. Except those kids in the tremendous line to meet Jeffree Star– ya’ll don’t count. I’m all for gender benders- but the music freaks me out.
I decided to clear my head by walking the 20 blocks or so home….my feet hate me today, but I had a good time at my first Warped Tour. Maybe I’ll go back in August when it comes around again so I can catch Gallows…