Look, I tried — as much as any 35-year-old can be expected to try — to get excited by, or even minimally interested in, the Warped Tour. Excuse me — what I mean is the Vans Warped Tour, featuring the Volcom Stage, and the Guitar Center Warp Your Summer with NOFX contest, and the Energizer Encore, wherein you can vote to see your favorite Warped band play 10 minutes longer. Why, if I could only see Davey Havok's frontal mullet, Cure fan circa ’86 hairdo for one-sixth of an hour longer, I think I'd need to change my underwear. Oh, wait — AFI aren’t playing? Well, I'm sure that haircut will be prominently featured on a good percentage of soul-crushing, woe-is-me, mall-rock bands out there on Piers 30 and 32 on July 8. They'll be soaking in the ultraviolet-ultraviolent radiation of sun and prepubescent adoration, smashing the state, and killing you softly with their songs and pouty lips.
OK, you got me. For someone with a master's degree in writing, a five-year-old kid, and a copy of Damaged on vinyl, poking fun at the Warped Tour is like hunting geriatric cows with a shotgun.
Warped just isn't my thing, nor is it supposed to be. Like it or not, gramps, punk rock — and all of its attendant bastard children, Emo, Screamo, Puddin', and Pie, and the rest of the seven dwarves — is big business. An uncool outcast who just can't relate to mainstream society, man is the cool thing to be. The punks are now the jocks. The hipsters are the cheerleaders, and the whole thing plays in Peoria quite well, thank you. It plays in the food court as your little sister and her friends compare the bitchin' spiked belts they just purchased over chicken nuggets and coconut-banana Frappucinos.
Having graduated from high school in 1989, I missed both the Sex Pistols at Winterland and the Warped phenomenon, and here I am — stuck in the middle with you. I had a couple friends who went one year, mainly to see the Descendents and Bad Religion, and I almost joined them, but discretion is the better part of valor, and the whole circus atmosphere just didn't seem like it'd be fun. More specifically, it didn't seem like it would be punk rock in the way that I thought punk rock was fun. It wasn't a dark, dangerous club with dark, dangerous individuals singing from their dark, dangerous hearts about dark, dangerous things. Of course, all of this dark dangerousness has been an illusion since Iggy rolled around on broken glass during the recording of Metallic K.O. (Skydog, 1976). Nonetheless, punk rock shouldn't require suntan lotion and plenty of hydration.
But that's precisely the point. I can't keep carrying this cross around. It's covered in Iggy's blood and Dee Dee Ramone's track marks. The Warped Tour is not about punk rock. It's about the kids having fun in the sun, and I'm no longer a kid. Point blank, whoot — there it is. It's time to put the dharma where my mouth is — no more ignoring reality. I'm not a kid, but I've got one, a rock ’n' roll kid who, like her dad, loves Joan Jett and would go positively ape-shit hearing "I Love Rock ’n' Roll" live for the first time.
Aside from Jett, there are a handful of other acts confirmed or rumored to be playing Warped who are actually worth checking out. Duane Peters's band Die Hunns is performing, despite his vow to "never play that fuckin' thing again," and you know that's got to be good — the Master of Disaster has no off switch, and his wife, Corey Parks, is a surgically augmented, tattooed, fire-breathing rock Valkyrie.
Peters told me that the Buzzcocks are playing, though I've yet to see it in print. They're probably on a tiny stage in the back, next to the generator truck, the burrito shack, and the roadie break room. You know, where the good artists play. Artists like Mike Watt, God of the Thunderbroom and flannel-flying Pedro (that's Pee-dro to you, youngster) good guy.