Warped Tour: Summer dose of punk

Doug Reed

What could be better than a lazy summer of sleeping until noon and relaxing in front of your TV? Getting pushed, dropped and kicked in a mosh pit at Warped Tour, that’s what.

This summer’s punk rock festival, with a variety of well-known and underground bands, toured America from coast to coast. While playing on the Jersey Shore in Asbury Park, approximately 50 bands played on seven different stages. This is where I, along with several other Villanova students, spent a hot and bright Sunday in August.

The Asbury Park show was held by the boardwalk in a parking lot between the legendary Asbury Park Convention Center and a trashy high-rise apartment building. The town of Asbury Park “resembles war-torn Beirut” as commented by one band. Not that this is a bad venue. In fact, it rivals the Tweeter Center in Camden, N.J., which contains only a small pit area and a poor view of the stage while on the lawn.

Many of last year’s Warped Tour bands were on their own separate tours this summer, such as Jimmy Eat World and Sum 41. Last year, a band like Sum 41 wasn’t even on the main stage. This year, Warped Tour has maintained the trend of touring with numerous underground bands accompanied by well-known punk rockers like Bad Religion, New Found Glory and NOFX. However, having attended Warped Tour for the past couple of years, I’ve noticed a change in the lineup this summer. Apparently the emo-craze (short for emotional rock) is coming in full swing, and classic middle-finger to authority punk rock has taken a backseat to its more sensitive counterpart. Much has changed in the punk scene since the days of the Sex Pistols and the Ramones; today rising punk bands sing, scream and yell about girls who break and steal their hearts.

The changing punk scene and Warped Tour creates a mix of spike-wearing, blue-haired punks with MTV Abercrombie and Fitch hipsters. But with something for everybody, there were hardly any complaints, except for maybe the $40 ticket price. The eclectic main stage included Good Charlotte, Reel Big Fish, Thursday, New Found Glory, Bad Religion, NOFX, Alkaline Trio, Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Flogging Molly. Also on the Drive-Thu records stage was Finch, who played at Novafest last spring. Despite the emo-craze, the mosh pits haven’t gotten any more peaceful, especially when Thursday took the stage. Crowd surfers were almost continuous and no one ever actually stood still. Of course, this is all part of the punk experience. Part of the fun was seeing your favorite band rocking out on stage, but the other part was the aggression, constant activity and crowd unity.

This year’s Warped Tour was, much as one would expect, a punk festival to be, but had fewer bands than last summer. The closing band was Flogging Molly, an excellent Irish rock band whose demo CDs littered the ground of last year’s tour, but have gained a larger following in the since then. Up-and-coming Warped Tour bands that I would recommend are Death by Stereo, Something Corporate or Bigwig.