I’m pretty sure the last time I was at Vans Warped Tour I was 16. From what I recall, 16 for me went a little something like this: multicolored hair and fishnet stockings, a fuck the world attitude for no apparent reason and a strong dislike for order.
Alternative music back then wasn’t just a musical preference, it was a way of life.
I remember seeing Less Than Jake, Pennywise, NOFX and Bouncing Souls. I remember being so happy to see that there were other kids like me, kids who didn’t wear Abercrombie and Fitch and who scowled all the time because their parents were just so lame. Looking around Warped Tour 13 years later it’s nice to see nothing has changed. Well, besides me.
Even though I didn’t recognize the majority of the bands on the Warped Tour lineup anymore I still jumped at the chance to attend and check out some live music.
After age 16 all I seem to remember is people whining about how Warped Tour had changed: it used to be so cool, now it’s lame. The bands suck now. It’s not punk rock anymore. Honestly, I don’t particularly care. Yeah, the 90’s had a great alternative punk music scene, but things change, music evolves.
Looking around the Comcast Center grounds I couldn’t help but feel like a bit of a creep. Everywhere I looked there were teenaged girls in cut off jeans and t-shirts soaked in sweat and boys in the throes of puberty with no shirts on (please God, put your shirts back on …). The concession stands had lines into the next zip code, and sheepishly I walked right up to the beer counter … not a single person in line.
No one over 21. Bar Havoc, mega creep.
I probably shouldn’t mention the beer I had been drinking out of a Dunkin Donuts cup in the parking lot earlier, either.
With my creep status secured, I couldn’t help but admit that I was having a really great time.
The sun was shining and no matter where you walked there were merchandise tents and vendors selling clothing, music, jewelry, sunglasses, you name it you could buy it. Music from different stages never stopped, and the hustle from one stage to the next was an adventure in and of itself. So many types of people, so many hair styles, so many bad t-shirt, wife beater or hat tans. The sun shone all day except for one hour– from my perch on a grassy hill I watched the clouds roll in over the grounds, black and heavy. In one second every one was soaked and running for cover, the rain a welcome relief from the scorching sun.
As for the bands, I was quite content to be dragged around by someone who had any idea of who was who. My only request was Less Than Jake, who I have adored for as long as I can remember. They didn’t disappoint, playing some new songs and old favorites. They brought a kid with a terrible haircut up on stage and shaved his head into a mohawk. Other highlights included Miss May I, The Devil Wears Prada, Grieves With Budo, Big D and the Kids Table, A Day to Remember, and Motionless in White. I came away from the day with a serious tan, an appreciation for Boston’s appropriately priced beers ($11.50 for a Magic Hat?!?) and a bit of nostalgia and happiness that these sweaty kids still have a music festival that is their own.
People say that Warped Tour has changed, and maybe it has.
But looking around at the organized mayhem that is an alternative music festival, it was honestly just as I remembered.