If the ship hasn’t already sailed on the Vans Warped Tour, the boat certainly has some leaks. Sunday’s stop at Ventura’s Seaside Park had a leftover heat-soaked melancholy from the show’s Pomona stop — it was over 100 degrees and, according to reports many of the bands phoned it in. But instead of speaking on something not directly witnessed, I’ll stick with my Warped experience, which provides more than enough fuel for the fire.
First off, the concert felt more like a corporate promotional event than a music festival. Everything seemed like it was trying to sell itself to you, from the giant Nintendo DS, Monster, and Kia Tents (which took up one-third of the fairgrounds) to many of the bands themselves. The Warped Tour has always been a chance for up-and-comers to try and make an impression; a sort of alt-rock rite of passage. But where five or six years ago Vans pulled good underground bands, nowadays we get acts that exude desperation. Think less “charming poverty of a soulful cat in a coffee shop,” more “let’s put on makeup and get famous.”
As for the more established acts, they, for the most part, were equally unimpressive. 3OH!3 — a two man crunkcore act — seemed to be more infatuated with their newfound fame than their music. At many times during their set they looked more like the pop-princesses that they collaborate with (Katy Perry Ke$ha) than a serious band. Perhaps this is what led the BBC music reviewer to state that crunkcore “is possibly the worst genre of music ever created.”
The press tent — a hot-box of an airplane hanger — was even more disorganized than the festival. Nobody seemed to have any clue what was going on. And interviews were always either late or non-existent. Against Me!, in typical contemporary Against Me! fashion, never even showed up. The band;s 32 minute set was equally uninspired. In fact, one of the only large acts that delivered was L.A. native punk/reggae rockers The Aggrolites. Their set was the best of the day and they told us that they were there to “hold it down for all these rocker kids. They come to see us, [and] we’re thankful for that, so we gotta give the best show we can.” If only the rest of the festival mirrored that sentiment, the Warped Tour might not be on the fast track toward total irrelevancy.