After 18 years, the Vans Warped Tour is still decidedly different from other festivals. It runs 41 dates across the United States, filling scrappy parking lots instead of lush parks. The tour’s founder, Kevin Lyman, can still be seen side stage, nodding his head to songs called “Fuck Police Brutality.”
On Saturday in the AT&T Park parking lot, young skaters filled a half-pipe full of pre-pubescent talent. Punk rock is growing fewer and farther between, but there is still a hazardous amount of whirling mosh-pits, flailing feet and self-induced whiplash.
It wasn’t meant to be an extravagant experience (they charge $2 for set times printed on 8″x11″ paper, and don’t even think about a V.I.P. cabana), it was supposed to be a nostalgic one.
In interviews, Lyman said the aim for this year was to bring out the 20-something women. Now that they are older and looking for “Coachella and Electric Daisy,” Warped saw this as a last chance to reel them back in with throwbacks like Taking Back Sunday, Yellowcard and the Used. And as Lyman noted, guys go where the girls go.
I didn’t exactly fall in their aimed demographic, but in true Warped spirit, they had a heavy list of underground kings and about-to-break names. This year, Hyro da Hero, T. Mills, Anti-Flag, Of Mice & Men, and Bless The Fall among dozens of others provided plenty of alternative entertainment.
Eminem, Katy Perry and the Black Eyed Peas all played the tour before they launched in to ultra-stardom, as did Green Day, Social Distortion and No Doubt. So only time and radio executives will tell who on this year’s lineup is the next big thing.
The day had its flaws. There were too many people for that small of a space, and not nearly enough trash cans. But flaws are what metal, hip-hop, and punk are made of, so as long as Warped Tour keeps giving me a reason to come out and pogo and skank, dance like a wasp-bitten fool, circle pit for unity, and scream incomprehensibly, I’ll be there.