Vans Warped Tour Sam Houston Race Park July 2, 2010
As they always have, teenagers get a bad rap these days. In our minds, any kid who was willing to brave the dirty side of Hurricane Alex on Friday afternoon to see their favorite bands, eat a shit-ton of free Willy Wonka candy, and get soaked for eight hours straight by rain and wind is our kind of kid.
Friday afternoon's Vans Warped Tour in the lot next to Sam Houston Race Park off the Beltway was a wet and miserable affair, but only weather-wise. Musically, this year's edition was a sight better than some of the previous years, and the first one in recent memory where we were actually clamoring to see a band or two.
This year seemed to be one of the tours more even-keeled and well-rounded lineups in recent memory. There was barely any hip-hop or pop to be seen. In the previous years acts like Katy Perry and 3OH!3 confounded us older Rancid and Bad Religion-loving cats who were Warped vets and didn't see the value in say, "I Kissed A Girl" versus "Atomic Garden."
Warped's schedule this year had something for everyone, making older punks happy and soothing new-school metal kids alike. We showed up just in time on Friday afternoon to catch the latter half of the Alkaline Trio's main stage set, but missed the Bouncing Souls a few stages over.
Those two bands were headlining just five or six tours ago, and now seem like curiosity pieces for the younger set. Some in the crowd looked like they were causing havoc at the day-care center while we were at Warped in June 1999. Still, Trio got more than a warm reception, and a few Trio tats were visible in the crowd.
Pop-rockers All-American Rejects showed off a playful yet grittier side midway through the afternoon, running through the eight or nine core singles they have amassed since their 2002 self-titled breakthrough album.
Lead singer Tyson Ritter was decked out in a white suit in spite of the big 'ol stinging rain still drifting through the area, reeling off crowd-pleasing one-liners throughout the set. AAR songs are the stuff of FM radio gold, and every piece in their collection was on display for their set.
Florida's Fake Problems were the band we wanted to see on Friday. We caught them over a year ago at Walter's on Washington on what was supposed to be a quiet Monday night, but instead we were stunned by their Springsteen and Thin Lizzy breakdowns and lead singer Chris Farren's Boss-y bellow. Set opener "The Dream Team" has an honest-to-Jesus "Born to Run" slant, and slapped the rain-soaked crowd awake. Someone please get them on a triple bill with Gaslight Anthem and Against Me! this fall.
The thunderdome came down in the late afternoon for Every Time I Die and Dillinger Escape Plan's back-to-back sets on the main stage. ETID is a burly, swaggery Buffalo, N. Y., band that will just as easily make you wanna dance as much as they made kids want to crack skulls in the pit. Lead singer Keith Buckley and crew are the kind of band that you don't want around your girlfriend at at closing time. The band is a wave of tattoos and pearl snaps, and you have to watch out for those types.
Dillinger Escape Plan isn't as straight forward as ETID, but they are well worth the ride. On record, the band is a snaky metallic wonder, infusing elements of Nine Inch Nails and mid-period Deftones. Live, the band is a coiled, sinewy beast, and maybe not as suited to the Warped Tour as the more accessible bands earlier in the day.
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DEP is thinking-man's hardcore and always has been, even before singer Greg Puciato came aboard. The smallish crowd in front of them was transfixed, while the rest of Warped was over watching Sum 41 relive 2001 across the grounds. Mathcore has a funny way of losing out to "Fat Lip," sadly.
By 8 p.m., we were as waterlogged as hell and jetted halfway through Andrew WK's main-stage party set. We saw him what seemed like five times during our SXSW tour of duty in March, so we still have some residual WK burnout. He may have wanted us to party, but the only party we wanted by the time the sky got dark was of the couch and shower variety.
For another year, the Warped Tour has molded the minds of Houston's children. Today the tour isn't so much about punk rock as it was a decade ago. Now it seems to have it's hands in a million different genres, echoing the headspace of most kids these days, who can listen to Lil' Wayne, Green Day and the Smiths back to back to back.
And every year we say it's our last go-round on the tour, but we always end up bumming a smoke off a kid half our age in a merch line.