Warped Tour @ Monmouth Park Racetrack 7/24/11
(click on any photo to see full size)
Itís that time of year again for the annual music schmorgasbord that is the Warped Tour. What began in 1994 has a combination of punk rock bands and skateboarding exhibitions, has changed drastically over the years but has increased in popularity with teens over the years. While I miss the vibe of the earlier shows, and the caliber of punk rock bands that used to be mainstays of the tour, the Warped Tour still has something for everyone.
This year, as last year, it was extremely hot. Being at an all day festival in the middle of a heat wave, with very few shady areas, is not healthy for anyone. Throughout the 4 and a half hours I was there I saw far too many people being taken to the emergency tent for dehydration. Had I have stayed much longer I may have been a casuality too.
Even though I was constantly staying hydrated with $3 waters (down a dollar from last year), and $5 sports drinks (up a dollar from last year), the heat was taking itís toll on me. The two water misting tents were too small for the large crowd, and didnít help much since I dried up in the sun minutes after using it.
While the Warped Tour promoted the ďKlean Kanteen filtered-water refilling stationsĒ, the I four security guards I asked either didnít know where it was or led me in the wrong direction. I eventually did find the one refilling station (not plural as they stated), and it was mobbed with several hundred people waiting to use it. It is great to have a free refilling station, but much like the misting tents, itís too few for a crowd this size.
But what about the music you ask, since after all, thatís what the Warped Tour is all about, over one hundred bands playing throughout the day. The music as always was a mixture of bands I really enjoyed, bands I liked, and bands I really didnít like. The lows need not be mentioned.
Ok, I do need to mention one low.
This guy had a laptop playing all the music for him. All he did was press some buttons and then move around a bit. Iím all for laptop music, but in this case it did not make for compelling music or live show.
Now here are the high points:
Unfortunately, I only caught the end of their set, but their mixture of reggae and punk was highly entertaining.
Unknown band on the Jersey Shows stage
Hereís another downside of the Warped tour, they do not put on the schedule who is playing the smaller stages. I got to see this great local band do some ska/punk music, but did not catch their name. (if you know who they are, please let me know).
River City Extension
Since these guys are from New Jersey I have plenty of opportunities to see them live and I could have caught some band I didnít know instead, but why when they always puts on such a spectacular show. The way River City Extension is exploding in the national music scene, we soon wonít have the opportunity to see this magnificent band play places like Asbury Lanes on a regular basis, so go see them while you can!
It is truly unfortunate that sometimes the best bands on the tour play to smaller crowds than they should. Such was the case with Blacklist Royals who played an incredible set to about a hundred people. That didnít deter them at all from going full on with what I would describe as what might happen if Bruce Springsteen fronted Social Distortion. In fact, they closed their set with a cover of Bruceís ďpromised landĒ, that sounded like the way Social D would cover it.
Larry And His Flask
This is the band that shined brightest of all of them I saw this year. When bands combine punk and rockabilly, the term punkabilly was coined. To my knowledge though, no one has coined a phrase for a band that combines bluegrass/mountain music with punk and rockabilly. I could call it ďpunkgrassabillyĒ, or something else silly like that, but I think itís best to just call it Larry And His Flask. The energy these guys brought to the stage had even the most sweaty and tired of us moving around, and when they told us to get down on the ground so we could spring up when the music did, we all listened. Such was the power these guys had over the audience. And why wouldnít they, they are all skilled musicians, who looked like they were having fun, and played the most enjoyable set I witnessed all day. These guys will likely never have a top 40 hit, but mark my words, Larry And His Flask will soon be headliners at mid-size venues, developing their fan base the old fashioned way, with an incredible live show.
Due to the heat I left after Larry And His Flask. This sadly meant missing a lot of bands I really wanted to see later in the day. Those bands included: Less than Jake, Lionize, Bid D And The Kids Table, MC Lars & Weerd Science, Peelander-Z, and others. Itís a shame I didnít get to see them. However, the Warped Tour is still a great value, because during the time I was there I caught part of more than 20 bands sets, and a few full sets, making it a great way to be introduced to bands, like the ones I mention as highlights, that I will continue to seek out and see again.