Each and everyone of us that attended this year's "Toronto" stop on the warped tour took a little bit of Barrie home with us today. I don't mean that in a gushing figurative way. Our throats, lungs, hair, clothes, and nearly every pore were caked, coated and breaded in fine Canadian soil. It was a hot dry day smack in the middle of a dry summer.
The monstrous Vans Warped Tour, now in its thirteenth year, made this installment's first eastern Canadian stop at Barrie's Park Place (formerly Molson Park). Always a showcase for established and up-and-coming indie, alt-rock, and metal bands, this year was no exception.
The Johnstones at The Vans Warped Tour. Barrie 2007 more photos... photo by clint gilders- staff photographer
Meg and Dia at The Vans Warped Tour. Barrie 2007 more photos... photo by clint gilders- staff photographer
Protest The Hero at The Vans Warped Tour. Barrie 2007 more photos... photo by clint gilders- staff photographer
No show is really complete without a hug from Katie Clark. Amazingly I bumped into her outside helping These Silhouettes setup to play a set for the kids in line. My day's off to a good start. The 11-mile hike back to the press entrance knocks it down a notch though.
A Static Lullaby was the first band I set out to see. They are a "screamo/post hardcore" band in the vein I'm currently digging. A few minutes into their set the pit really got going and first wisps of dust began to rise. At first it was kinda cool..... The dust clouds rising from the pits kinda looked like a smoke machine. Ohhhhh, Ahhhh. Then there was the choking and the wheezing.
Shortly after, I caught the Johnstones. I'm still scratching my head over that one. Five guys playing fantastic ska/punk dressed as cute farm girls..... I gets weirder, on our way to the Rocket Summer we are inexplicably drawn to the Lucha Libre demo. "Lucha" is that extremely stylized Mexican wrestling with masks and crazy moves seen in Jack Black's Movie Nacho Libre. This stuff makes the WWE look real, but it's fun to watch.
Now back to the music. The Rocket Summer is 22 year old Bryce Avary. He composes, sings and plays every instrument on his albums. On tour Bryce brings a band. Lucky for him since his keyboard quit working a couple of songs into the set. His power pop is a change from the usual Warped fair but the crowd reacted favourably, and I dug the music.
Pepper was the surprise of the day for me. On my way over to get ready to shoot Chiodos I heard these cats on the opposite stage. Ska/reggae by three horny guys from Hawaii. The songs and the between song banter were dripping with inuendo and blatant sexuality. What most impressed was that this trio easily dominated the huge main stage. The bassist, Bret Bollinger, is especially larger than life and oozes charisma and personality.
Chiodos were up next and my first experience with them left an impression. The dust cloud at the main stage became enormous during Chiodos' set and as singer Craigery Owens pointed out "That means that you're moving, that you're dancing, that your having a good time." I'm pretty sure he was right.
Meg and Dia were next. Their other guitarist hadn't made it across the border to Canada and their manager was filling in to cover the guitar duties with Meg. There were a few noticeable hiccups here and there, but I was still impressed with their brand of indie rock. The stunning Meg can play that guitar! Her in her summer dress bent over rocking her ES-335 is a sight to behold.
5:15 was tattooed on my brain. 5:15! 5:15 is when Protest The Hero will hit the Union stage! Just getting to the stage was a miraculous act. I think everyone else had set out to see Protest. In inimitable Protest fashion the stage sides and back were lined with friends, family, and hangers on. The narrow photo pit was also packed with photogs and security. The usual madness ensued. Protest plying there brand of power metal to an eager audience, bodies flying everywhere, and security unsure how to handle what they're being handed. After just 2 songs the photogs are franticly cleared from in front of the barrier so security can concentrate on catching the surfers and praying for it to be over soon. For me it was over too soon. There were some old songs, and some new songs and Rody's trademark banter. Protest owned.
After a couple more bands, my $3.00 a bottle water budget is exhausted, and my camera is looking more like a crusty fossil than a camera. I make my escape.