By Robert Vega
The 13th Annual Warped Tour arrived at Los Angeles’ Home Depot Center for the final stop of its 45 city tour, once again bringing the best punk and alternative rock to acts to perform for a sweaty yet eager group of music fans. This festival is unlike any other in that it has over 8 stages and the only posted schedule is in front of one of the main stages, so most of the fans wander aimlessly from stage to stage often asking others “what band is this?” The good thing about this is that many people get to find otherwise unheard of bands performing on the obscure small stages and often those bands become the “next big thing.”
This years lineup was brought traditional Warped acts such as Bad Religion, Circle Jerks and Pennywise, and as usual, mixed them in with mainstream “teeny bopper” bands; Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Sum 41 and Boys Like Girls, all of whom have their respective fan bases.
Traditionally the warped tour chooses its line-up randomly so every band has a chance to either open or close; this is something that keeps their egos in check. The infamous Fishbone were one of the first performances of the surprisingly overcast day. Their ska and punk mixture had the early birds jumping and singing along to their cover of Sublime’s “Date Rape.” At one point trumpet player John McKnight leaped over the barricades and began swimming above the crowd.
Over on the Ernie Ball stage up and comers Jameson were tearing through a set of Pantera inspired heavy metal, complete with concert t-shirts, ripped jeans and long hair.
East Coast natives, Bayside were one of the most anticipated performances of the day and they delivered a massive wall of sound while crowd goers moshed and crowd surfed their way to the front of the stage. Guitarist Jack O’ Shea was in complete control of his domain, giving the young musicians in the crowd a detailed blue print of what a true rock guitarist should be.
The fans are always the main attraction at the festival. All walks of life come out of the woodworks to celebrate a style of music that has refused to die out. With the day’s temperatures only reaching 90 degrees (some year’s it was past 100) many fans were able to dress freely and truly express themselves through fashion. Tattoos and mohawks were prominent but guys in girls jeans and “guy liner” were also alive and well. Warped even came complete with its own barber this year. Sometimes just walking around the grounds soaking in the scenery of people is just as entertaining as the bands themselves.
The most compelling performance came from New York’s Coheed & Cambria who for years have pushed the envelope and created some of the most elaborate and intriguing albums to ever come from the genre. Front man Claudio Sanchez led the band playing a guitar that looked like its previous owner was a wizard, and with the return of original bassist Michael Todd (who left the band earlier this year for personal reasons) they conquered the main stage with a ferocious urgency.
As the sun set and the final bands took the stage, the people behind the scene packed up their tents and gear for one last time this summer and could go home with one word on their minds…accomplishment.