written by Mike Cox
Date: July 1, 2007
Venue: Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, Ca.
From the dust it had risen, and into the dust it would fade. On July 1st 2007, Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View California was home to the 13th annual Vans Warped Tour. Take time to note, that of all the music festivals conceived in the early 90’s the Warped Tour is one of only two still clinging to life’s breath, a true credit to the “underground”.
That being said, it’s important to recognize just how much the festival has evolved over the last decade.
Once a mere spotlight for the Punkers, the tour is now brand central, with representatives from every hipster clothing line and record label between here and Timbuck Two, shamelessly promoting their wares by any means possible. Not necessarily a bad thing, the consumer microcosm created offered many the chance to sample sounds ne’r heard at the local Sam Goody. Though most were no more than new school “Monk”(mock punk) bands trying to jump on the Emo/Screamo/Teeno bandwagon being paraded on the airwaves these days. Still there were a few standouts.
The So Cal based Street Drum Corps (S.D.C.) were well worth the time and effort it took to see them. An audience of well over a hundred packed into an amazingly small tent where temperatures easily reached the century mark to enjoy the sights and sounds of this so called “Punk Rock Stomp”. Founded by Bobby Alt (S.T.U.N.), Adam Alt (Circus Minor) and Frank Zummo (The Start), S.D.C. unleashed an all out auditory assault, arming themselves with anything and everything they could get their hands on. Look for the new record “We Are Machines” in stores this summer.
Conscious of the tours continued evolution (success?) the powers that be again offered another first, the combination of athlete and artist. Mike Vallely (Mike V. to the rest of us), host of Fuel TV’s “Drive”, pro Skater extraordinaire, and all out punk rock madman, on board skating and singing. On tour for the summer with his band Mother Revolution. Unfortunately as his set coincided with the Vandals I was only able to catch the last few songs. Alas the sound and accompanying vision provided by Mike and his band on stage was nothing short of refreshing. With the day and age of eyeliner and emo upon us Mother Revolutions’ hurricane like zeal for fast loud rock was certainly one of the day’s high points. Hardcore fans rejoice, this album is for you.
Added bonuses aside, I was here for the meat and potatoes of the line-up. Conveniently, every band I specifically came to see were set to perform on the Lucky stage one after another starting at 3:00 P.M.
The only scheduled exception was New Found Glory (whom I find nothing glorious about) taking the stage at 5:00 P.M. This gave me a chance to check out “The Brothers Grimm Sideshow” which amounted to nothing more than a K-Mart quality rip off of “The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow.” Don’t bother. Spend the 5 on a beer instead.
The Tiger Army set kicked things off with the brand new “Prelude: Signal Return”, stirring the crowd into a frenzy and in the process creating what was to become a day long dust storm in front of the parking lot stage. Suffering through some technical problems (Nick13’s amp lost power a few times), T.A. offered a blend of new and old, pulling out a few crowd favorites while mixing in tracks from the recently released “Tiger Army IIII, Music From Regions Beyond”. T.A. finished the set with F.T.W. – dedicating it to everyone who had been at B.F.D (where rumor was, they were told not to play it).
Next up, playing their only date on the tour, So Cal career goofballs, The Vandals. For some odd reason, the Vandals started the set several minutes early causing many to miss the first few songs. Not to fear as most of their tunes seem to clock in around 90 seconds apiece. Tardy fans were still treated to classics along the lines of “I’ve Got An Ape Drape” (if you actually have to ask, don’t) and “Happy Birthday to Me”. Closing with “And Now We Dance” a sing-along that conquering punk hordes might have used in ancient Rome. At this point in the day it was safe to say the Vandals had set the crowd standard, performing with an almost seismic energy.
Picking up where the Vandals left off, the Circle Jerks assaulted the crowd with deafening decibel levels. Keith Morris and company did not disappoint. The ‘Jerks, attracted a largely older crowd, most paying tribute to a group amounting to punk rock royalty. The kids in attendance were treated to a blistering set dating back to 1979, offering them a glimpse of what life was like for us old guys. Suffice it to say I think the ‘Jerks swayed a few new fans their way. Thanks Keith.
Pennywise took the stage at six o’clock to a mind-blowing crowd. Seemingly everyone in attendance made a concerted push upon hearing front man Jim Lindberg’s classic call, “Hi we’re Pennywise, from Hermosa Beach California.” The ensuing set was a fans’ dream come true. PW stormed out of the gates with high-energy classics that moved the crowd so forcibly the dust had reduced vision to a blur. At one point Jim gave up the mic to Fat Mike (who was backstage with wife and child), treating everyone to an impromptu NoFX tune. Pure electricity! It must be said that although true punk zealots Bad Religion followed them, Pennywise stole the show. Never was it more evident than during “Bro-Hym” an emotional ode to Jason Matthew Thirsk, the bands original bassist lost to suicide in 1996. Watching my son worked over by the energy was moving. Instantly I remembered my introduction to PW. Not much different than today’s high schooler, riding in the back of a minivan en route to Ocean City, New Jersey. Cranking the newly released self- titled album “Pennywise.” I love the bond music has offered my son and I. We owe it to people like Jim Lindberg, Fletcher Dragge and our brother Jason Matthew Thirsk. Jason may you rest in peace with the eternal comforts of brotherhood and music.
Finally the act scores had patiently waited for, Bad Religion. Following Pennywise would prove a difficult task, Greg Graffin and company played a set heavy with tunes released on 1994’s “Stranger Than Fiction” and few too many from 2004’s disappointing release “The Empire Strike First” much to the dismay of older fans chanting “No Control.” Though the set list was less than ideal the Band made up for it with a razor sharp performance including tastes’ of the soon to be released (July, 10th) “New Maps Of Hell” which seems to stray from the concept of the last few releases and is more reminiscent of 1993’s “Recipe For Hate”, a direction longtime fans will be pleased with. Having closed the set with “Sorrow” the band exited the stage to chants of “One More Song”, which proved futile due to the powers that be. Just like the man to fuck up a good thing.
Call it corporate. Call it a sell-out. Hell call it whatever you want, but The Vans Warped Tour is still the best opportunity to see the best of the best do what they do.