Vans Warped Tour
With Pennywise, Sum41, Reel Big Fish, Alkaline Trio, Andrew W.K., We the Kings, VersaEmerge, Mayday Parade, Hey Monday, and many more.
Cruzan Amphitheatre, Pompano Beach
Saturday, July 24, 2010
View part one of our slideshow here.
Better than: Going to Warped Tour as a 15-year-old.
The review: Though there's definitely something to be said for attending your first music festival as a naive teen with your arms and stomach covered in "free hugs" marker scribbles expecting to hear "real punk music," one can be or act like a teen for only so long. I thought my years going to Warped Tour were long gone after I graduated college -- after all, I was too old to mingle with the masses, and I wasn't one for sporting green hair or a mile-high Mohawk. Boy, was I wrong.
Warped Tour 2010 decided to mix up the schedule, spreading out
well-known bands and newbies throughout the day, making me miss
highly anticipated shows like the Dillinger Escape Plan, the Pretty
Reckless, and Breathe Carolina and making me run to catch Andrew W.K.
and just miss Hey Monday once I finally figured out where each stage
was, thanks to the handy $2 stage map I purchased.
I walked in with a heavy heart and a poncho
in tow, already dreading that I'd have to walk around soggy all day, as
all weather reports pointed to massive thunderstorms. But as the clouds
parted and the sun shone bright as hell, my predilections and whatever
tiny shreds of music snobbery I hid in the deep confines of my soul were
wiped clean. I approached this daylong show as if I were 15 again
knowing what I know now and tagged along with a group of teens to make
sure I got the full "first time, best show ever" experience.
Keeping what Pennywise's Fletcher Dragge told me
about punk going mainstream and hitting the malls in the back of my
mind, I noticed lots of black makeup, fishnet tights, piercings in
interesting locations, and custom one-day-only hair dye jobs. Pink,
red, green, and blue were the colors of choice for teens, contrasted
with a lot of unnatural black hair with ghost-pale complexions, bright-red lips, and tats on the older set. Fifties rockabilly bangs and updos
juxtaposed with multicolored Mohawks, as kids in bikinis and boardshorts
mixed in harmony with the all-black, studs, and chains set.
From what I
heard, local outfit Hey Monday put on a mean show, and lead singer Cassadee Pope yelled
at security several times as they literally threw crowd surfers on the
floor once they got close enough. Way to stand up for your fans, guys!
Andrew W.K. had loads of energy on stage, and as the crowd moshed so much that plumes of smoke rose from the dirt, he brought a superfan dressed as a banana on stage to give him... an Andrew W.K. key chain?
Crossing over to the other side of the venue to the AP/Advent Stage, I caught a glimpse of newcomers Dirty Little Rabbits as I waited for Pennywise. They mixed so many genres between the chick singer's harmonies and hardcore screams that it made it a little hard to keep up, but they kept the audience awake by poking fun at Cruzan's "no cursing" rule, saying words like poopie and sex and asking the crowd to scream out the "guy version" of the words. Smart.
Once Pennywise took to the stage, a huge mass of Mohawks lined up front and center. It was pretty obvious that this was one of the bands that the older set came to see, and Pennywise kept the crowd socially conscious, dedicating their hit "Fuck Authority" to BP and corporate greed. New lead singer Zoli Teglas and veteran Fletcher Dragge kept asking the masses how many punk rockers were out there and thanked us all for "keeping the dream alive." Zoli's voice sounded just as good as former lead vocalist Jim Lindberg, and all arms were raised and moving as the band cursed like crazy with lots of powerful messages. They didn't seem to know about Cruzan's no-cursing rule -- and if they did, we doubt they'd care much anyway.
VersaEmerge took to the neighboring stage and started almost immediately after Pennywise, and lead vocalist Sierra Kusterbeck noted, "Shit, and someone says you can't curse in Florida." Apparently there was some kind of memo. Her voice sounded almost identical to their new album Fixed at Zero -- but in a good way, and though she kept trying to move those of us on the lawn to stand front and center, most showgoers were more adept to picnic on the grass than dance in the crowd.
Alkaline Trio had one of the biggest crowds I'd seen, and they subtly poked fun at the heat saying, "I love the smell of Warped Tour in the afternoon." Yeah, there were tons of smelly people out there, but the good music, good vibes, and snow cones kept us all in check from barfing or ripping one anothers' heads off.
Reel Big Fish took to the stage with frontman Aaron Barrett in his trademark Hawaiian shirt, proving that they really are just happy, guilty-pleasure music. They had an amazing stage presence, and though we couldn't tell if the enormous crowd was strictly for them or just spillover from Alkaline Trio, they brought it anyway. They brought newcomers Tip the Van on stage for "She Has a Girlfriend Now" as a circle pit formed. Barrett told the crowd to square-dance, then to follow satan, and when he started screaming and the band started playing what sounded like hardcore, we all realized their range and how talented they all really are.
Sum41 got the masses to raise the finger in unison, and they had the same energy when I saw them perform back in 2002. They punked up a cover version of the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" with heavier guitar riffs and drums, making us wonder if the original should've been a punk song.
Unfortunately once the clock stroke 6, all of the best bands were lined up to take the stage. We missed the Cab, Alesana, and NeverShoutNever because of it and caught mere glimpses of Fight Fair as we ran to see We the Kings. We found it a bit strange that they'd pair off two Florida bands against each other, making set times the same for both Mayday Parade and We the Kings, and the stages were just far enough that we couldn't catch both shows.
We the Kings frontman Travis Clark really brought it, wooing the ladies by continuously mentioning how South Florida's crowd is even better than their native Orlando because of all of the pretty Latina women in the audience. They all oohed and ahhed as he pulled out an acoustic guitar for their latest hit single, "We'll Be a Dream," and we didn't really miss Demi Lovato as he encouraged the crowd to sing her parts.
He included us in every song, telling us to dance, raise our arms, and jump midsong, and we got a glimpse of why he got into music as he explained that Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle" was the reason he joined a band, then continued to cover the song as he brought on Bryce Avary from the Rocket Summer. The collaborations didn't stop there, though, as he brought Max Helyer from You Me at Six on stage for "Check Yes Juliet," and the security guards seemed to have learned their lesson, placing crowd surfers gently on the ground once they reached their destinations.
Despite all the crowd involvements throughout the day, the real standout band when it came to stage presence for us was Pierce the Veil. Once their set started, the Warped crew had already started to dismantle the stages and tents, leaving just two tables on stage that band members used to their full advantage. They jumped on them without even thinking twice and alternated as they swung their guitars over their heads and simulated guitar smashing à la Kurt Cobain, though they never officially went through with it.
The crowd was pumped by Vic Fuentes' performance, and so was he -- so pumped, in fact, that he jumped intp the crowd midsong, having fans carry him as he continued belting it out. They somehow managed to turn a cover of Drake's "Find Your Love" into an insane mosh pit, and as we glanced over at drummer Mike Fuentes looking like he had the intensity of Animal from the Muppets and their guitarist jumping into the crowd as he continued playing while crowd-surfing, we could tell that they were all about putting on a show.
Other fun additions throughout the day included "Reverse Daycare" -- a place where kids could drop off their parents to enjoy some AC and free water as they walked the field; the skate ramp being used alongside the stages; free candy provided by Wonka; getting mysteriously stamped with "streaker;" and talking to people so genuinely energized and happy to be there that they almost wanted to puke from excitement. Well, that's what they told us, anyway.
Personal bias: I grew up listening to punk bands like the Ramones, Sex Pistols, the Clash, Pennywise, and early Green Day.
By the way: Umm, what happened to the "rain"/tropical storm Bonnie?
Random detail: There were quite a few punk/goth families there -- we're talking mom, dad, and kids -- but my favorite was the 8-year-old with a full blown, two-foot Mohawk dyed bright red.