L. Paul Mann brings us an overview of an early stop on this year’s Warped jaunt and the first of two big photo galleries.
On a beautiful summer Sunday of the July 4th weekend, the rock and roll circus that is Vans Warped Tour rolled into the Seaside Park. The local beaches, already packed with holiday revelers, created a chronic parking shortage throughout the city, with many late comers to the concert scrambling to find parking miles from the venue. But that didn’t deter a record crowd of young music fans from finding their way into the fairgrounds. After enduring a week of touring in the relentless summer heat of California’s inland cities, the 1000-plus army of musicians and support staff on the Warped Tour relished the cool sea breezes and the relatively cool summer day reaching into the 80’s in late afternoon. In fact, some of them borrowed surf boards and took advantage of a rare winter-like West swell sending head high waves across Surfers Point located directly in front of the venue. But the main army of young music fans focused their attention on the seven stages, providing non-stop music for nearly ten hours.
The festival travels the country throughout the summer, and now in its 16th year, has long been a rite of passage for scantily clad young music fans. In fact for many young American teens, Warped Tour is their first foray into the world of live music. The low ticket prices combined with a testosterone infused lineup of aggressive new music stars, lots of corporate giveaways, and a chance to meet and greet many of their favorite artists is an irresistible recipe for young music lovers. Taking advantage of the warm weather, the young Californians bared most of their bronzed skin in a creative array of skimpy beach attire that should make the cutting edge fashion moguls take heed. Fans crammed to the front of the stages for their favorite performers, packed in a sweaty sea of red, smiling faces. Crowd surfing, which is banned at most every other live event, created a non-stop wave of bodies moving towards the main stages like a sea of giddy rag dolls. Viewed as another rite of passage, the risky activity is looked at as a sort of adventure sport at Warped. With the event taking place mostly on asphalt, there were more than a few dings & scrapes caused by the occasional dropped crowd surfer, but for the most part, fans enjoyed a euphoric exposure to one of the most diverse lineups of music that the festival has ever presented. The Warped Tour may not be every music fan’s cup of tea but as long as there is a new generation of young Americans there will be a readymade audience for this frenzied free-for-all.
Every date on the Warped Tour has a different mix of bands. Here were some of the highlights from the Ventura stop:
Fear: Fronted by iconic lead singer and guitar player Lee Ving, Fear offers a living history lesson for today’s young music fans. One of the first true hardcore bands to emerge from the Los Angeles punk scene, their sound has influenced generations of hardcore bands.
Unwritten Law: Fronted by singer-guitarist Scott Russo, it’s hard to believe that this seminal surf-skate-punk band was formed at the forefront of this genre over three decades ago. Offering another history lesson into the foray of mixing hardcore punk music with other genres in an evolving style, there probably was no other band more in their element at the Ventura seaside Southern California venue.
3OH!3: This young band mixes an electronic glam rock style with hardcore rapping that had young girls screaming and crying tears of joy in the crowd during their set, which also induced a crowd surfing frenzy.
Shut Up And Deal: A high energy new band riding a new wave of testosterone infused punk music, this group was a crowd favorite with many of the youngest music fans in attendance.
Against Me!: Florida’s most successful punk pop group ever, this crowd surfer favorite is fast becoming a successful mainstream commercial success with catchy songs like “Stronger”.
The Devil Wears Prada: The main stage closing act proved the oxymoronic idea of a professed Christian rock band spewing demonic-like primordial vocals and hardcore riffs can be commercially successful with a huge number of young attendees.