The Warped Tour celebrated its 15th year yesterday in the Flats with a 10-hour extravaganza featuring 73 bands on seven stages. The weather was perfect, with the heat rising off the asphalt grounds alleviated by a nice breeze off the river. Onstage, it was a typically Warped smorgasbord of acts running the gamut of punk and hard-rock styles, with brief glimpses of rap and the occasional forays into pop. But by and large, this year’s tour was a celebration of aggression with plenty of loud guitars, throbbing breakdowns, screeching vocals and angst-ridden subject matter.
In honor of the lineup’s often aggressive tone, I attended the festivities in a Your Favorite Band Sucks T-shirt, prepared to answer any queries by citing whatever band that might be flung my way with praise for their immediate antecedent. Less Than Jake? They suck next to Operation Ivy and the Descendents. Saosin? I liked them better when they were called Taking Back Sunday. The Devil Wears Prada? The movie or the Underoath rip-off? The point is naturally that expecting innovation from music aimed at those whose musical taste is still nascent and unsophisticated is a leap, and, in truth, the best you can hope for is a distinct recombination because just about anything’s been tried before. (Of course, nobody said anything other than to congratulate me on a cool shirt.)
Which isn’t to disparage the Warped Tour or their bands. The tour offers such a wide cross-section that you’re likely to find what you’re looking for whatever your musical tastes (within certain limits), and something interesting you probably weren’t expecting (if you’re open-minded enough). The only real complaint is that with so many bands, and a lineup that changes daily, you’re likely to find time-conflicts. For example, Anti-Flag apparently drew the short-straw, playing the first mainstage slot at 11:15 a.m., before many fans had even arrived (me included), or standard-bearers Bad Religion who unleashed their old school politi-punk during the same slot as exciting up & coming Florida folk-punks, Fake Problems, both of whom played around 1 p.m.