July 30, 2017
Under the sweltering sun at NRG Park on Sunday, it was sometimes hard to believe that the conflagration of stages, bands, and tents out there in the never-ending parking lot
Hey, I like screaming and chugging. That’s why, out of 22 opportunities, I made this my first Warped Tour ever. Key takeaway? It was so, so hot. There’s no way to dress up hanging out in a parking lot at the height of summer. This was one music festival where shade was more precious than drugs.
But if the sun was brutal, so were a lot of the bands. The first act I caught as I entered was Silent Planet, the first of basically an entire day’s worth of metalcore bands. Silent Planet’s twist is that they’re Bible-quoting, testifying Christians of some kind, which I assume informs the type of stuff they sing (er, scream) about. Mostly, though, they cranked out a shitload of breakdowns, setting sweaty bodies in motion in the early afternoon. I couldn’t help but think that their older brothers must have listened to a lot of Coalesce. Silent Planet themselves looked too young.
There was still a bit of punk to be found here and there. Baltimore’s War on Women made a terrific, feminist racket over on the smaller Skull Candy stage. Hooks like “Say it! Say it! I was raped!” are pretty hard to ignore, and singer Shawna Potter was working hard to get the band’s message heard.
After checking out the pleasantly confrontational “I Had an Abortion,” I kept it moving, stumbling on to Brooklyn punks J and the 9s performing a set out in front of their camper van. Bedazzled
Honestly, I was starting to become acutely aware of how little pure happiness surrounded me by then. The audience was really suffering from the weather, and the bands weren’t doing much better. Maybe that’s why so many of them sounded so angry. Crossover thrash kings Municipal Waste delivered some nasty rippers like “Thrashin’ of the Christ” and “I Want to Kill the President” alongside illustrated banners of President Trump blowing his own brains out. Crazy dudes opened up a big circle pit out there on the concrete, sweat pouring off of them. The music was getting faster and heavier by the minute.
Blessedly, the sky opened up briefly during Hatebreed’s set nearby, offering a nice rejoinder to their song “I Will Be Heard.” I know I wasn’t the only one whispering to those clouds for some relief. Hatebreed played up the weather, favoring us with a bit from Slayer’s “Raining Blood” before taking their bows. That’s kind of how things went at Warped Tour 2017: “Raining Blood” played completely unironically for teens.
I guess that’s sort of punk in some way, but there were some very strong Ozzfest vibes at play on Sunday. I’d already missed some of the punkier bands I was interested in, like CKY and T.S.O.L.
“We’re bringing death metal to Warped Tour!” exclaimed lead screamer Scott Lewis, and it was hard to argue with him after the blackened strains of “Crown Me in Blood.” I hadn’t realized that Warped Tour needed an injection of death metal, but I suppose ska ain’t exactly paying the bills these days.
Wales’ Neck Deep did provide a bit of respite from all the metal for awhile, pumping out poppy
One of the biggest highlights of the day was watching the stage security personnel have GWAR explained to them as the sun set. They gamely put on rain ponchos — they were determined not to be surprised at this point — and safely handled the
Which was sort of weird. Covered in blue GWAR
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Personal Bias: Old.
The Crowd: Mostly teens; mostly suffering.
Overheard in the Crowd: “This generation is really ugly.”
Random Notebook Dump: I’ve said it before, but I think I’m really done with summer festivals at this point.