Concert review by JD Alvarez
Time can be a blur when you’re having fun. It’s hard to believe, but the Warped Tour is in its 17th year. On August 10, 2011 the Tour made its way to Carson, California.
Unlike most shows in SoCal, the weather wasn’t a blistering gazillion degrees when the gates opened. In fact, it was a little overcast, but that didn’t stop the concertgoers from sportin’ their tattoos and showing off their piercings while wearing those itty-bitty-bikini outfits.
I walked into the venue with my Photographer “Benny”. As soon as we hit the pavement it hit us like a contact high at a Bob Marley Day Celebration. The aroma of food from all over the world being cooked up. There was so much diversity, you could have turned into a Chinese pizza there was so much! The exhibitors were everywhere, it was a virtual cornucopia of boutique deals and good causes. Within the first twenty minutes, I gave away my blood while simultaneously turning into a vegan- animal loving- activist! There was just so much to do, you could literally get side tracked and forget there were bands playing.
This years lineup had a good mix of metal, metalcore, punk, reggae, and even some hip hop. A little somethin’-somethin’ for everyone. After crusin’ the venue and checking out the six stages, we made our way to the media area. We had a few interviews lined up, luckily they were all early enough in the day that we could spend the rest of the afternoon and evening watching the performances.
As we were getting ready for our first interview to show up, we could hear a punk cover of Supertramps’ 70’s classic Breakfast In America by the main stage. We knew we were in for quite a day when we saw the mosh-pit circles a-formin’ before noon; insane dancing was going to be the order of the day.
The plan was to find out a few things these bands. That was 1) how were the mutli-genre-mixed crowds taking to their music 2) how do they feel about the trend of self-producing music 3) what advice would they give to up and coming bands.
That being said, our first interview was with JR from Less Than Jake. JR was great, he is a very well spoken touring veteran, and a ska officionado. He said there are a lot of young kids that are hearing them for the first time, and so-far so-good. JR felt strongly that you have to believe in your music, and self producing is the wave of the future. His advice to young bands was know what you’re getting into and be ready for a bumpy ride. I was really looking forward to catching their show.
Our next interview was with Zack Lopez and Sean Stockham of Middle Calss Rut. Zack and Sean come from the Sacramento area, they are very aware of the challenges in the music industry for young groups. It was evident that they are passionate about their music, hard work is what they live and breathe. They were very pleased with the support from the fans, especially the new ones. In regards to self-producing, their position was simlar to JR’s. The consensus is that self-producing is a big part of what bands will need to engage in to be successful. Their advice to young bands was be in it for the long haul as success doesn’t always come overnight. After hearing their passion, I was really looking forward to catching their show.
Our last scheduled interview was with Dave McWane from Big D and the Kids Table. Of all the interviews I’ve done over the years, I have to say, Dave is one of the friendliest artists I’ve ever met. We discussed his home town, what being from Massachusetts is like. We even chatted about another Mass-band, the Dropkick Murphys. I really got the sense Dave cared about his craft, his friends / family and just as important, their fans. Dave commented on self- producing. His postion was very simlar to all the other artists I spoke with, it’s the future. What I found interesting was his advice to the younsters. He said be true to your music, and the genre you pick for yourself. He went on to say be yourself and don’t try to sound like someone else. Dave was so positive, I was really looking forward to seeing Big D!
Before we left to hit the shows, I ran into a colleague from SLAM Scene Magazine. She was interviewing MC Lars and Weerd Science, so I thougth I’d stick around. I found it interesting to hear what two Hip-Hop / Rap artists had to say. After their interview was over I asked them two questions, which they graciously answered. The first was the self- producing of their music. MC Lars fielded that question, he said it is a vital means for artists to get their product out. How artists promote themselves in the electronic medium is the real challenge. Especially in the age of the internet, i-tunes and YouTube. My second question was a racially sensative one. I thought it was sensative becuase the two are caucasion males working in a prodominatly minority-based genre. Weerd Science jumped at answering that question. He said being two white dudes in Hip-Hop/Rap is not as weird as it once was, maybe like it was 8 years ago. He went on to said tolerance has gone many ways in our society and for us, race is not an issue. Although I did not catch their show, I was very impressed with the duo. I wish them much luck.
So we finally made it to the first show and caught the UK band Asking Alexandria. They are supporting their latest release Reckless & Relentless. Not resting on their laurels from the JKL show a little while back, the band took the fairgrounds by storm. They got the crowd into their set really fast with their unique metalcore style. Jesus didn’t build their hotrod, but you would think he did with the high velocity sound that drove the mosh-pit into a frenzy, especially when Danny Worsnop got into The Final Episode. If you’re a fan of loud music, these guys are for you!
The next band we saw was Less Than Jake. They too had a nice mix of songs which included some of their hits like The Science of Selling Yourself Short and The Ghosts of You and Me. They even played some punk covers of some toon classics like Spongebob Square Pants and Scooby Doo! The great part about Less Than Jake is their in between songs banter between lead singer Chris Demakes and RJ. During the show they even brought a young concertgoer on stage and gave him an impromptu Mohawk, and got a young lady to come onstage to give him what they called his “first real kiss”. It was all in good fun and the crowd loved it. The show was fun and entertaining, what ska is all about.
By now, the overcast sky gave way to the sun. It was now blistering and time for Big D and the Kids Table. I knew this was going to be an interesting show when the band was introduced by Big D himself, Ron Jeremy. They opened to the Specials classic ska anthem Little Bitch. The crowd went into a frenzy, and like the Pied Piper, Dave was more than happy to lead them into a skankin’ quasi- mosh pit. Dave even completed a successful stage dive, it was quite the sight. Dave played the hits the kids came to hear; Noise Complaint, Hell on Earth, Modern American Gypsy, Shining On, My Buddy’s Back, Steady Riot and L.A.X. After the show Dave could be seen out in the crowd signing autographs. Dave reminded me very much of another ska legend who I have gotten to know over the years, Dave Wakeling of the English Beat. Both of these lead men are class acts and a must see, they are well worth the price of any admission.
The day was getting near the end, but I was able to catch Middle Class Rut. I was amazed at the sound the Zack and Sean put out. I couldn’t believe how loud these two dudes could be. I mentioned they were passionate about their music, their performance was nothing short of amazing and a reflection of their work ethic. They were both like two Tasmanian Devil’s that only took a break long enough to breathe. The crowd went nuts when they played their alternative charts topping hits Busy Bein’ Born and New Low. I was impressed and I highly recommend checking out MCR whenever they’re in your neck of the woods.
The last band we saw was A Day To Remember. These guys, like Asking Alexandria were friggin’ loud. The crowd was in a fist-pumping, head-banging frenzy throughout the show. I lost count how many people ended up in the photographers well, I could have swore I thought some of their fans were going into cardiac. When they played All Signs Point To Lauderdale, I could see the look of fear in the security guards eyes. It was an intensely crazy scene in the pit.
There were still a few metalcore bands to check out, but the sun did a number on me. There were just so many bands to check out, and not enough sunscreen. I will have to save those reviews for Warped Tour 2012.
No matter what the weather is, or who’s on the bill, the Vans Warped Tour shows no signs of slowing down. It remains one of the most anticipated and premier summer events for the die hard music fan.
For more information about the bands, when the tour will be in your neck of the woods or everything else you could possibly know about the Warped Tour, and a great organization that supports the tour (Music Saves Lives), please visit www.vanswarpedtour.com, www.musicsaveslives.org or www.tnnradio.org.