I’m too cool for Warped Tour.

Aug 13th, 2013 | By | Category: Entertainment, Feature, Sounds
The Used

The Used

First thoughts: this is boring. The heat doesn’t bother me so much as the list of bands I’ve either never heard of or haven’t heard since middle school. For a moment I realize half the kids here were born after 2000, and for that brief moment, I allow myself to have my first “I’m getting old” moment. Although there was an abundance of Gen Z kids, the “punk kid” category was seriously lacking. Even last year there were a few stragglers in torn up vests and Doc Martens worn for function rather than fashion. This year, I may have seen one or two during Billy Talent, or maybe they were all hiding at the only two “original” Warped Tour bands’ sets – Reel Big Fish and Big D and the Kids Table.

Obviously, the Warped Tour demographic has changed drastically in the past 7 years of my attendance. The first year I went, Bad Religion, Flogging Molly, Pennywise, and Title Fight all were on the lineup – along with some bands on a specially curated “punk stage” that only happened in California and featured bands like The Adolescents, Circle Jerks, and The Vandals. I vividly remember seeing The Bouncing Souls one year. Now, from any area in the festival, you’re likely to only hear super synthetic “screamo” bands with weird names like Bring Me the Horizon and Sleeping with Sirens that could only be in the “super synthetic screamo” genre. Read: my mom actually wanted to see Bring Me the Horizon – my mother of all people, who criticized my “screamo” music taste in middle school, who saw The Ramones at least seven times, wanted to see this weird band whose singer’s haircut was oddly reminiscent of mine circa 2006.

Billy Talent

Billy Talent

Okay, now that I’ve gotten my obligatory “cooler than thou” paragraphs out of the way, I’ll get on with the actual content.

For all but one of the Warped Tours I’ve attended, my mom had press passes through her music website. I kind of thought it might be funny to see if I could get one through Avant Greensboro, and two or three days before the actual date, I got a reply telling me I’d have a press pass and a photo pass waiting for me at the gates of the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. And so I was roped into going – and Monday morning, my mom picked me up and we headed into Charlotte.

Of the twenty plus bands coming in to be interviewed, I only requested two (the only two I actually knew anything about) – MC Lars, who my dear friend Brenda recommended me chat with, and William Beckett. Most people who know me know my family’s history with Beckett, and will find funny what I disclose later in the article. I was pretty satisfied with my interview with MC Lars, to the point where honestly, I’d like to set up a future interview. He was hilarious – I gave him my notepad to write down whatever he wanted me to say and the notes from that say “Avalon is selective,” “family

The Used

The Used

smiles,” and “German culture is great.”

Lars (whose real name is Andrew, apparently) described his music as Beastie Boys meets Minor Threat, and it was his third time on Warped. You can check out his music on both iTunes and his BandCamp – something I was stoked to know he wasn’t “too big for.” He just released an EP called “The Edgar Allen Poe EP” which is a collection of songs inspired by the works of Poe. One of the coolest things Lars told me was that he was shooting a TV show for (fingers crossed) Nickelodeon. The show is “like Yo Gabba Gabba meets gangster rap” and is supposed to educate through music. The pilot of the show features Weird Al Yankovic as Marcel DuChamp, and a top secret future episode will have the frontman of The Dead Milkman playing Benjamin Franklin. That all sounded super cool to me (and I was trying not to think anything was cool), so I recommend that you keep your eyes peeled for that. As I wrapped up the interview, I asked if he had anything else to add, and like any “real” musician, he told me “be passionate, be prepared, and always be smiling.”

We headed to the main stages to catch Billy Talent, who I actually enjoyed. Maybe it was the adrenaline of being in the photo pit with a nice camera for the first time in 3 years, maybe it was the $13 tall boy – I decided that it would be a good idea to crowd surf. I had originally intended to wait until I saw Rancid in September, but the excitement of singer Ben Kowalewicz

Billy Talent

Billy Talent

instilled on me with his speech about “channeling the energy of original Warped Tour bands” like “Rancid, The Bouncing Souls, and Bad Religion” got me pumped enough to do it. I made the mistake of taking my glasses off and the security made me take the long way around the crowd, but it was worth it. I got back just in time to hear Ben say to the crowd waiting for Motionless in White (or some similar band) “you’re over there looking at nothing, and all of these kids are over here having a good time! You’re looking at fucking nothing!” Also: there was a chick wearing a thick leather jacket and tights in NINETY. DEGREE. HEAT. The things some people do for fashion.

My mom dragged me to William Beckett’s set next. You may have recognized him from The Academy Is, who had headlined Warped Tour one of the times I saw them. They played to a huge crowd that year, and every time I’d seen them their shows were sold out.

William played in a small tent to a small group of girls this time around. In the background, you could hear Sleeping With Sirens or Motionless in White or whatever band was playing extremely loudly over his “unplugged” set. He had lost his “real” band, and during his set, his computer suddenly stopped playing the backup “band.” That poor kid. He had also tried to have a dramatic entrance, with “The Final Countdown” playing as he walked on the stage – but it glitched halfway through and you could tell he was mortified.  There’s some hope for him though, apparently – we were supposed to interview him at 5:30, but he had stayed behind meeting fans and didn’t get to the press trailer until at least 7. We had long since abandoned the trailer, trading it for The Used. But you know, at least he still has fans, right?

The Used

The Used

I owed it to myself to enjoy The Used’s set. I had tried so hard to see them when I was in middle school and my mom just wasn’t interested in taking me. They played old favorites and some newer songs, and threw out packets of powder paint that exploded in the air in beautiful, colorful clouds. My inner 12 year old rejoiced at hearing those songs that I had so longed to hear played live. It was truly thirty minutes of throwback.

All in all, as much as I wanted to be miserable, I actually had a good time. I caught up with old friends like Greensboro’s Jonas Sees in Color, who have been on the tour for most of the summer, and met new ones (I got drunk enough to buy a British “punk” band’s CD). I learned that even though hipsters dominate most of our culture, once a year the scene and emo kids come out of hiding to go to Warped Tour. Among all the awfulness, one small victory was had: on the drive home, my makeup looked the exact same as it did on the way there. Even though I want to think I’m cooler than all of this, as long as my mom is there to hear my complaining, I’ll probably go next year.

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