Street Dogs on the Highway 1 Stage - more photos photo by Jeff Barringer - Staff Photographer
I don't travel well anymore.
Bonaroo, or Coachella, for me, constitutes a nightmarish scenario like a Seinfeld episode gone dark and demented. Camping for 3 days in the middle of nowhere, my fate controlled and decided by pimply faced kids in EVENT STAFF t-shirts, at the mercy of the elements sun, wind, and rain, and the ever present lines of people queuing up for basic amenities like drinking water, showers, and bathrooms, the whole idea gives me a case of the willies.
When I was younger pup, in my teens and twenties, the idea would have appealed to me to no end, and in fact back then I traveled quite a bit, often camping out in my car. By the time I was in my mid thirties I was firmly of the opinion that basic amenities such as air conditioning, clean sheets, and soft pillows were a minimum for travel and since then my criteria have only tightened.
Had it not been for the fact that Protest The Hero and Paramore were playing Warped I seriously doubt that I would have made the 5 hour trek down to San Antonio and back, but it had been 3 weeks since I covered a show, no better prospects were forthcoming and I was looking for any excuse I could to get out of the house. Besides it was a one day show, only a day trip, and even I am not too old and whiney for that. Luckily Mike over at Earshot Media has a few bands on the tour (he ALWAYS seems to have a few bands on the tour) and after a few emails I was hooked up.
The Bronx on the Route 66 Stage - more photos photo by Jeff Barringer - Staff Photographer
Securing the dogs for the day, and arranging for a dogsitter to check in, I loaded up my truck, pointed it South down the interstate, popped Blue Cheer's Vincebus Eruptum into my Alpine, and settled in for the drive. By the time I had made it to South Austin, I had run through the Blue Cheer and popped in Moby Grape's Greatest hits. This extended taste o' the Grape lasted all the way to Retama Parkway, and then the entrance to the Amphitheater. Navigating at the guidance of local law enforcement through the cones and then into the parking lot I slid into a space next to a light pole. Had been paying closer attention I would have noticed the lot letter on the pole beside my truck, an error that I would regret come the end of the day.
It was early, before the gates opened, when I arrived at the Press/Guest List tent. It was obvious that they weren't ready for us as there was already a line and I was far from first. After what seemed an interminable wait that in reality was only 20 minutes, I was wrist badged, ticketed, and ready to go. The huge line that had been waiting for the venue to open had been consumed by the time I got my ticket, and after a quick security check of my bag and my person, I was headed off down the walkway into the great unknown.
If you have never been to a Warped festival before its kind of like the theme park you'd go too when Six Flags wasn't "cool" anymore. More than just a concert, it's got all sorts of events and displays, games and promotions. With 100 plus band merch and sponsor booths it's like a shopping mall for angry teens, all amped up on Monster energy drink and carrying skateboards. Man if I was 16 again this would be so damned cool, it would have been too cool for my school where anything "alternative" was looked upon with suspicion and greeted with derision or worse.
Relient K on the Highway 1 Stage - more photos photo by Jeff Barringer - Staff Photographer
With eight stages and a mix tent all going at once obviously the highlight of the day is checking out the bands, and there is no way you could physically see all of them, at least not in one day. While there are no major headliners on this tour per se, Warped is the breeding ground of major talent and with 100 or so up and coming punk bands, metal bands, emo bands, ska bands, and solo artists some of these bands like Paramore and Reel Big Fish or Angels and Airwaves are poised to break big.
As I entered the already crowded parking lot that comprised the main Warped venue I got my bearings and
headed to the Route 88 and Highway 1 stages. These stages constituted what are considered the main stages for the event and my plan was to set up a base camp there and radiate out as needed. Tossing my camera bag underneath the stage I pulled the band schedule from my pocket and began to plot out my day. I hadn't been there long when Jay West from Insite Magazine showed up. We were both a little late in arriving, Anberlin was already halfway through their set so we just stood there like idiots until the next band came on.
The first band for us was Boston's Street Dogs on the Highway 1 Stage. The Street Dog's are a pretty cool punk band, with a sound reminiscent of early Clash. Frontman Mike McColgan lead the band through an energetic set, at times jumping on the barrier to encourage and interact with the crowd surfers.
Next band up was on the Route 88 Stage was a band called The Bronx from Los Angeles and these guys were really good. They reminded me a lot of the old UK band 999 with their frantic pace and their slashing chainsaw guitar attacks. More metal than punk, more punk than metal, they play like someone lit their hair on fire and the only way to put it out is to run around onstage and play faster. Krunchy with a capital K.
Slowing it down just a bit pop/rockers Relient K were next on the Highway 1 Stage. I had talked a bit with their drummer Ethan Luck backstage before their set and he said that they had been having a great time on the Warped tour, he just hoped today's gig wasn't as hot as the gig in Phoenix, temperature wise. I split soon after their set started to go shoot Protest The Hero signing autographs over at the MySpace tent so I missed most of it.