Photos by EvAl
The Warped Tour returned to the Bay Area with a performance at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View. I was here for the Old School Stage which, somewhere in the course of 8 weeks, had become known as the Punk Rock Legends Stage. Where else can you see Total Chaos, Channel 3, Fishbone, D.O.A., The Adicts, UK Subs, Thelonious Monster and FEAR all on the same stage?
Before I get to the show, let me start with a rant … with ~80 bands and some 800 people on tour, no single act is making a lot of money for their appearance so I go in expecting to get bombarded with people selling merchandise. If I want to support a band, I buy something but I don’t have to buy it if I don’t want it. The event is plastered with corporate advertising from Vans, Monster, Kia, you name it. But that’s the price of admission and something that keeps a $35 ticket from being a $100 ticket. I tune it out just like I tune out other advertising. Of course the food and drinks at any concert event are obnoxiously expensive ($10 for a Coors? Give me a fucking break). All this is nothing new to the regular concert goer. So I’m waiting to get my press credentials and I’m right next to the main gate where security is going through their normal procedures. You know the drill: no weapons, no spikes, no cameras with removable lenses, no sharpies. Hold the phone … no sharpies?!? What the fuck?!? Is graffiti a big problem? Have people been fashioning shanks out of pens and cutting themselves during the performance of The Devil Wears Prada? Nope, not even close … it’s because there’s a guy ten steps inside the front gate selling sharpies for $1. Are you fucking kidding me? Half of these bands are doing promotional signings during the day that helps them sell their CDs and T-Shirts and people can’t even bring their own pens. Talk about an all time low in pettiness. Sorry, I just had to get that out of my system.
After getting oriented in the maze of tents, merch booths and and stages set up in the Shoreline parking lot and checking out Less Than Jake on the Main Stage, I found my way over to the Old School stage for the first band of the day, Total Chaos. The band schedule changes every day and these guys drew the short straw, picking up the unenviable opening slot and taking the stage at 12:45. Total Chaos formed in the late 80’s with a goal to save what they felt was a dying genre. I somehow doubt that when they started they would have envisioned themselves in 20 years as part of an Old School line-up playing with some of the very bands that they were influenced by. Despite the early hour, the crowd turn-out was respectable and the band tore through their set of vintage-styled politically-oriented hardcore in the vein of The Exploited and Discharge. The only real disappointment was the announcement by singer Rob Chaos that the guitarist of the Exploited had quit and that they would not be playing today.
Next up was SoCal punk outfit Channel 3, probably best known for their 1982 release, Fear of Life. Unbeknownst to me, they’ve been touring pretty actively and just returned from Compared to their contemporaries these guys have held up remarkably well and the level of energy in this performance today was very much like what you would have seen back in ’82. Opening with “Indian Summer” the band moved into familiar territory for the fans as they launched into “Out of Control.” Unfortunately the set lost a little momentum when Mike Magrann ran into guitar issues but, after deciding to ditch the guitar, he more than made up for the lull and whipped the crowd into a mosh pit frenzy on Mannequin, Didn’t Know, You Lie, and Got a Gun.
However you might try to classify Fishbone … Punk? Ska? Whatever? … they, without a doubt, brought more energy to their performance than ANY other band at Warped. Period. This band has so much presence that they hardly fit on the stage and could have easily held their own with the main stage bands. Front-man Angelo’s zany madness took him across the stage and into/onto the crowd numerous times while the rest of the band backed him up on favorites such as Cholly, Alcoholic and Date Rape. They were clearly still getting warmed up when Angelo was told that they only had time for one more song. You could see the disappointment on his face as they closed the set with Party at Ground Zero.
My first live show ever was D.O.A. at the Whisky in Hollywood back in 1982. The second time I saw D.O.A. was in 1983 with the Dead Kennedys and there was a massive riot – tear gas, mace, riot cops swinging billy clubs – the real deal. 26 years later Joey “Shithead” Keithley is still going at it with the same converted milk truck for touring that he’s had for 20 years and a steady stream of new music including last year’s “Northern Avenger” produced by Bob Rock.
Talking to Joey early in the day while The Millionaires *played* (I use that term loosely in their case) on an adjacent stage, I am sure that he was wondering what the heck he was doing at Warped. One of the things I find interesting about Warped is seeing which band members show up to watch the other bands. In the case of D.O.A., Eric Melvin from NOFX showed up to watch Joey and the guys cover songs spanning the band’s career. While Joey later told me that it took him 15 minutes to get warmed up, I certainly didn’t notice goofs or gaffes, just straight-up punk rock starting with the crowd sing-along “I Hate You” and ending with a fast and furious rendition of “The Prisoner.”
I Hate You
World War Three
Waiting For You
Fucked Up “Arnie”
What is it about an Irish jig that gets the crowd whipped into a frenzy? Alright, I’ll admit that I don’t really know if it was Irish and it could have not been a jig … but what I do know is that by the time The Adicts’ front-man Monkey took the stage, the crowd was frothing for the lead-joker’s antics. Dressed in a multi-colored sequined suit, red top hat and joker paint, Monkey didn’t waste a second before launching into “Joker in the Pack” while tossing over-sized playing cards into the audience which sang along and erupted into the largest Old School pit of the day. The band, dressed like they stepped straight out of Clockwork Orange, was clearly enjoying itself on stage as, time and again, Monkey fueled the party by pulled streamers, confetti, silly string and beach balls out of his bag of tricks. Two days later and I’m still pulling confetti out of strange places. This is definitely a crowd-participation kind of act and it was really cool to see the kids (and adults), who were not even born with the Adicts started out, singing along to every song.
The Adicts Setlist:
Joker In The Pack
Fuck It Up
Life Goes On
Go Genie Go
Next up was another British band, the UK Subs. Talk about old school! 65 year old front-man and UK Subs mainstay, Charlie Harper, are contemporaries of the Clash. That’s as old school as it gets. I must admit, I saw Charlie wandering around back stage earlier in the day and he looked, well … old. Backed by Creetin Kaos (vocals, Social Unrest) on bass and Nicky Garratt on guitar, it turns out that I had nothing to worry about. He might not look like it, but Nicky Garratt is the most energetic guitar player I’ve seen on both dates of the Old School performers and can execute a jump splits like nobody’s business. This is no nostalgia act, this is the real deal.
UK Subs Setlist:
I Live in a Car
Left For Dead
New York State Police
I wasn’t the only one that wasn’t familiar with Thelonious Monster and that showed in the crowd numbers. There were more security guards behind the rail than there were audience members in front of it. I felt bad for the guys and was happy to see some of the other bands and crew step up and show them some support. I found them to be excellent musicians with a cool punk-meets-folk-meets-jazz-meets-country groove that for some reason reminds me of early Meat Puppets. Unfortunately they suffered the same fate as Flipper did back in June in that they’re way too obscure for the Warped masses. After a long day in the sun, it was cool to kick back and just listen.
Not seeing anything interesting on the remainder of the day’s schedule, I decided it was time to call it a day. Half way to the parking lot I heard something that stopped me dead in my tracks … “I LOVE LIVING IN THE CITY …” A quick look at the band schedule confirmed that the day was *supposed* to be done at the Old School Stage. Then again … “I LOVE LIVING IN THE CITY …” Could my feet stand another 30 minutes for FEAR? Fuck yes! I was able to save a few steps by sneaking in through a rear gate to find Lee Ving and crew tearing it up. Lee may be pushing 60 but, holy shit, his voice is shockingly still as powerful as it was in FEAR’s debut release, The Record. Lee wasn’t exactly using a lot of the stage but those die-hards that chose to stick it out were rewarded with a musically stunning set which included Foreign Policy, New York’s Alright and More Beer. What a great way to end a long day!
A few closing thoughts after hitting two shows on the Warped Tour, one early and one late in the schedule:
1.If you have a choice, definitely try to catch the bands earlier in the tour. Compared to the June stop, the bands that are along for the whole ride seemed to have lost a lot of energy. Many of the bands looked like they hadn’t bathed, shaved or washed their clothes since the tour started and even the usually-energetic NOFX looked flat-out tired.
2.The tour organizer, Kevin Lyman is an L.A. guy. No surprise, then, that the line-up was very West Coast centric. Next time it would be cool to see some East Coast bands on the Old School Stage.
3.If you want to bring a sharpie to Warped, make sure to stick it somewhere security won’t look. Use your imagination and you’ll figure something out.
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