Warped Tour turned the big one-five this year, and to celebrate they’re going back to their roots. This year's lineup included veteran bands such as Bad Religion, Anti-Flag, Less Than Jake, and The Ataris. Many of these groups mentioned the milestone anniversary onstage, while simultaneously making jokes about how a lot of the kids in attendance are barely the same age. Wayfarers of every make and color were the style, as well as neon-colored, skinny jeans for the multitude of kids.
Some of the Vans Warped Tour “experts” felt like they were coming back to old friends while on the 2009 tour. Peter “JR” Wasilewski, saxophone player for Less Than Jake, said, “The production people are the same, it’s kind of like coming back to your old high school to visit. My favorite thing is hanging out, being with bands that you wouldn’t normally be with. There aren’t as many bands that I used to know, or bands that were on it when we started playing Warped Tour.”
Highs were in the 90’s on Sunday. You could say we were given a break by not going into the 100’s. The countless bikini tops and shorts (that barely qualify as shorts) were the way to stay cool.
Another vet of the punk scene, Anti-Flag, had an early set on the main stage. Yes, I said the main stage. Normally there are two main stages side-by-side, but for an undisclosed reason there was only a single one this year. Although the day was young, many people came to see them play. Justin Sane, lead vocalist and guitarist, told the crowd, “We won’t stop until every soldier is home.” The band is known for their liberal views and charitable work with organizations such as Greenpeace and PETA.
Justin provided a little insight into his life while on the Warped Tour. “One of my favorite things to do in the evenings, after I get some rest, is to randomly talk to people that recognize me. It’s a cool way to connect to people and hear about their lives and get a feel for what’s going on in their part of the world,” he said. He also admitted that one of the ways to make his life easier is to accept the fact that he’s going to be dirty, and to not fight it.
There were some kiddos taking over throughout the day, proving how far Warped Tour has come. 3OH!3 was one of those, and was a huge success. Since their single, “Don’t Trust Me,” has been played and re-played on the radio, they have shot to stardom. The crowds were unending during their set, and surprisingly violent. (I had to back out of the sea of people and opt for a spacious spot in the back). The best thing about the group is that the founding twosome, Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte, rapped to hip-hop beats while wearing cut-off denim shorts and '90s patterned tank tops.
The heavy metal, screamo fans got their fair share today. Thrice, Underoath, In This Moment, and The Devil Wears Prada made up the heavier part of the lineup. Circle mosh pits were at every show, threatening to take out an eye at any second. In This Moment surprised a lot of onlookers because of their female lead singer. Maria Brink screams strikingly strong through the entire show and really gets the crowd involved. Underoath took over the entire main stage area, showing their popularity with all age groups. There were moms and 15-year-old girls head banging in unison to the riotous guitar chords.
Romance was in the air at the Hurley.com stage (where the normal Superpages.com shows are held). As Big D and the Kids Table played their ska set, they called Chris onto the stage. As he brought his girlfriend out, it was obvious a marriage proposal was about to occur. Thankfully, she said yes and cheers erupted all around.
Less Than Jake played in the middle of the day. They blessed the crowd by shooting powerful water guns throughout their set. They gave an amusing show, as always, by making fun of how old they are and their onstage antics. It’s important to note that they are the only band on this years’ lineup with a brass section.
P.O.S. brought a different feel to the show at the Hurley.com stage. Stefon Alexander, aka P.O.S., is a hip-hop artist from Minneapolis who makes his own beats and could be his own band if needed. He plays the bass guitar, guitar and drums, and was in a band for six years prior to going solo. He feels that being out of the lineups’ norm is a good thing for him. “Being something totally different from what’s going on can only benefit me.” He got onto the ground during his set, creating a crowd all around and interacting with everyone.
Bad Religion was one of my final acts of the night; the sun and my aching feet got the best of me. Young and old alike came to watch the 29-year-old punk rock band show why they've been able to stick around for so long. “Generator” was sung by many of the crowd and helped finish their set. It’s great to see some of the classics show how it’s done.
There was one question yet to be answered concerning the crowds at Warped Tour. What’s with the free hugs? There are always multiple hand drawn signs being held up by random teens telling the world how they give free hugs and sometime kisses. Is this some inside joke? If you can solve this mystery, that would be great.
So happy 15th birthday Vans Warped Tour, hopefully Dallas treated you well after sweating out all the alcohol from the night before.
*Both photos by Kenneth Smith