The Vans Warped Tour
At Ventura’s Seaside Park, Tuesday, July 11.
Reviewed by Levi Michaels
It’s loud, it’s hot, and it’s possibly the only tour where the headliners don’t matter. While the mainstream acts are all well and good, the Warped Tour’s 12-year legacy is one built from an underground foundation, hailed for the soapbox that it affords to bands still working their way up the chain. In the punk realm, bands are truly dependent upon their followers to survive the battle of natural selection, and the extent of their gratitude goes far beyond a brief thanks between songs. Everywhere, fans scribble band names and set times on signs and parade them in front of crowds, working side-by-side with promoters and tour managers. “It’s just a great environment for smaller bands like us,” said Torry Jasper, frontman for A Change of Pace. “The opportunities are endless; you just gotta work your ass off.”
And that they do. For these bands, performing is the pay-off. “We’re all exhausted,” lamented a weary Justin Sane of Anti-Flag. “But for us, getting onstage makes it all worth it. It’s our outlet.” Minutes later, the same four exhausted guys lit a powder keg of a performance, pausing only to inform the surging crowds that public schools are required to turn over their private information to military recruiters. Meanwhile, Rise Against raised a few fists over at their stage as they sounded off with new material from The Sufferer and the Witness. With six stages and 85 acts, there is never much time to be bored. Head on over to the Smartpunk stage for the choreographed head-banging of Scary Kids Scaring Kids, or take part in the colossal circle pit of Every Time I Die fans being filmed for the band’s DVD.
Of course, if your tastes are slightly more conventional, there’s always the main stage. Fresh from recording a live album in London, Against Me! ensnared an audience with their incendiary blend of anarchist folk, setting the stage for a considerably buzzed and grinning NOFX. Last is certainly never least at the Warped Tour world, as the crowd was left alone with the punk veterans while the other stages began to wind up. NOFX played a healthy blend of old and new, including two songs from the new Wolves in Wolves’ Clothing before ending the night with the always-classy “Linoleum.”