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Volume 71, Issue 148, Thursday, July 6, 2006
 

LIFE & ARTS


A tired tour

Bickering bands, divisive music attitudes, lack of enthusiasm lead to inevitable demise of long-running Warped Tour

by DUSTI RHODES
THE DAILY COUGAR

Warped Tour is starting to show its age. 

Although the event is still a great place for kids to see a lot of bands and get even more free stuff, the longest running tour in music history is beginning to show signs of a much-needed end. 

First on the chopping block: the bands. Warped once boasted an impressive list of independent acts like Lagwagon, Rancid, Bad Religion and lesser known wonders like Save Ferris, Dance Hall Crashers and Death By Stereo that were able to pull off big crowds even though their records weren't topping the charts or dominating the radio waves. These days, many of the bands are played all over radio stations and have SoundScan numbers that major labels would die for -- which is why many of these bands are on major labels.

Being on a major label or being popular isn't a bad thing. But the fact that Warped creator Kevin Lyman needs these bands on his tour to push ticket sales is a sign that Warped can no longer survive on the indie means of the past. 



Every Time I Die guitarist Jordan Buckley works the crowd on Friday at Warped Tour's stop at Reliant Park.
 Dusti Rhodes/

The Daily Cougar

Another sign: The ongoing feuds between newcomers and Warped veterans on stage come off like an old couple's banter. At the beginning of NOFX's set, singer/bassist/Fat Wreck Chords owner Fat Mike pointed out that every band on the other main stage was either AFI or Christian (most likely a slap at hardcore Jesus rockers Underoath). He added that there was no reason to check out any of the bands on the other stage, especially with Against Me! coming up next. 

So, when screamo rockers Thursday took to the other main stage after NOFX, singer Geoff Rickley condescendingly thanked the "most politically savvy" band on the tour, NOFX, for playing before them. He went on to say that Thursday's first song was Fat Mike's personal favorite workout tune. (Oh, snap!) It's stunts like these that show that all is not well in the punk rock world. There is a notable divide and one can only hope the young punk fans don't notice that the bands they believe to embrace a unified scene are in fact drawing a line in the sand that not all "punks" are welcome to cross. 

The sad thing is that many of these bands like Thursday, Saves the Day and Motion City Soundtrack grew up listening to the likes of NOFX and wanted to create a group that they thought would push the same values: social awareness and equality. 

Only now they come to find that said bands would rather them be silenced simply because their music isn't to their liking. 

What has punk rock come to? If Warped is a sign at all, it's that punk today is no longer the punk some of us once knew -- it's now a case of what side of the line you fall on. 

The entire tour had a very tired feel to it. Bands just don't seem as energetic as they once did. It's almost as if you can read their thoughts: "It's hot, I'm tired and I just want to get back on the bus." Many of the acts' performances were mediocre at best.

On a positive note, there were a few bands that managed to stand out. Grunge rockers Vaux have been on Warped for at least four years now, and the fact these guys are not on the main stage yet is a testament to why Lyman should pay a little more attention to the bands on his tour instead of the numbers.

The New York hardcore group Every Time I Die showed why the side stages were still one of the best parts of Warped. The group gave its all to a crowd that gave just as much back. Kids came pouring over the barricade in front of the stage faster than the security guards seemed to be able to handle. Vaux and ETID showed that Warped still has signs of youth, even if it's fading. 

Punk veterans The Bouncing Souls proved that the main stage wasn't all bickering and getting last words. Promoting their latest album in three years, The Gold Record, the Souls returned to remind kids that East Coast punk rock was alive and kicking, and screaming as well. 

It's sad to think that that Warped has come to only a few good moments, but in fairness, the fans didn't seem to notice. Maybe it's because they weren't allowed to go to concerts in Warped's beginning stages, or maybe it's because Warped is not the only one showing its age. 

I have to admit the idea of standing out in the heat all day to see a band play for 30 minutes is not as attractive as it once was. Maybe I'm getting older or maybe I already have enough free stickers and CDs. 

Whatever the case, I'll always have my past Warped memories, which are more than enough to make up for the disappointment the tour is proving itself to be.


Warped Tour

@ Reliant Park

Verdict: Don't call me a "know it all."
 

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