This comes from our newest writer in New York, Todd Shelton. Vans Warped Tour comes through Atlanta August 1st. Get your tickets and we will see you there!
“While sitting at my favorite bar in Charlotte, NC, my buddy Belair (not the Fresh Prince of, unfortunately) started chatting me up about this year’s Vans Warped Tour lineup and gave me the stink eye for not being wholly knowledgeable about Lucero’s music. To be honest, I felt a tinge of embarrassment about the whole Lucero thing, but I had to admit that I was completely unaware of the majority of the bands he was talking about; an admission that earned me a look of complete horror—and a bit of derision—from my friend. Here’s the deal: I’m not a metalhead, pop punk sucks, and I don’t quite understand all the subgenres of music represented on the tour; all the emo, screamo, punk-metal, post-industrial grunge rap and various variations thereof that employ the suffix “-core.” Perhaps I’ve spent too much time immersed in dusty stacks of Neil Young and Pink Floyd records. Or (horrors!), perhaps I’ve become my parents and think all of this kids music is garbage, desiring to remind them of a time when there was real talent like A Flock of Seagulls and Mister Mister. “But maybe, just maybe,” I started thinking to myself, “I’ve been a bit too close-minded and don’t know as much about music as I think I do.”
One week later I found myself standing in the parking lot of Nassau Coliseum for the New York stop on the 2011 Warped Tour, melting in the midday sun and smiling to myself as I took in the sweet sound of double humbuckers through an Orange stack during Lucero’s raucous alt-country set. As fate can be cruel, and oftentimes ironic, Belair was stuck pedaling drunken frat boys around the streets of Charlotte in his rickshaw while I was enjoying all the bands that he introduced me to.
The stifling July heat certainly did not turn away any music fans; it simply gave everyone a chance to break out their tattoos and bikini tops, and to slather their bodies head-to-toe in day-glo body paint. Mist tents provided temporary relief from the heat, and people tried to stay hydrated by drinking—or bathing—from a tanker filled with water. Crowds swelled around the stages where bands such as Less Than Jake, Big D and the Kids Table, August Burns Red, The Wonder Years and Go Radio were playing, while small groups of die-hard fans or interested listeners supported many of the lesser-known bands. I was able to see British punk band, The Exposed, at one of these smaller stages and enjoyed their set immensely.
No strangers to the Warped Tour, Orlando-based There For Tomorrow began their high-energy set with “Hunt Hunt Hunt,” the first single from their latest release, The Verge. There For Tomorrow were headliners on this year’s Ernie Ball Stage, where frontman Maika Maile had fans waving their arms in the air and pressing close to the stage as they sang along to TFT’s melodic brand of modern alternative rock.
What can I say about Peelander-Z? Hailing from the planet Peelander (or New York), Peelander Green, Peelander Pink, Peelander Red and Peelander Yellow—so named for the colors of their skin (those are NOT costumes)—combine the manic energy of the Ramones with the histrionics of a Japanese game show while tearing through songs with titles like “Boo-Foo-Woo,” “Ninja-High School,” and “Red-Aka-Ika.” The set ended with Peelander Green hurling, not tossing, drumsticks into the crowd and Peelander Pink caterwauling like Yoko Ono.
Simply put, Warped Tour is for me about three words: Less Than Jake. Rapidly approaching 20 years together and currently on their 12th Warped Tour (including European and Australian tours), Less Than Jake are now the elder statesmen of the tour. Do not misinterpret “elder” for “old,” however. Age has only brought experience, and LTJ still puts on a show with the same intensity that they did 15 years ago. When I caught up with saxophonist Pete “JR” Wasilewski after the show, he found it difficult to explain why they continue to attract new fans while continuing to please their fans of 20 years. He could only say that “we’ve been the same lineup for 12 years…and he [the fan] knows what he’s going to get musically, obviously.”
So what did I learn from my day at Nassau Coliseum? You’re right, you’re right, Belair! There is good music out there! It’s good to know that despite the music industry being a self-serving, festering dung heap, countless musicians are working hard to create and save the thing that we all love: the music itself. “