So I pull into the parking lot around 10:50, and the gates open at 11:00. I make my way to the back of the line and proceed to stand in the 88 degree weather for the next thirty minutes before entering the gates. Last year, sealed bottles of water were allowed into the venue. This year, they made us take the caps off and throw them in the trash so we couldn’t refill and reseal them later. Looks like I’m drinking straight from the fountain today, or paying $3.50 for a bottle of Dasani. So after having my bottle cap confiscated and being frisked by the security guard, I make my way into the gates and head out in search of the Alternative Press tent. Once I found it, I wrote down the schedule of the bands I wanted to see. First conflict I see is Anti-Flag playing at 1:00 on the Teal stage, and Avenged Sevenfold playing at 12:50 on the Maurice stage. I had never seen either band play, so it was a tough decision, but I opted for Avenged Sevenfold. That gave me a little over an hour to find each stage and check out some of the merch tents. I seek out the Avenged Sevenfold tent and check out what they have. I pick up a Death Bat logo belt buckle for $12 and move along, picking up various free stickers from each booth. I don’t know about any of you, but if it’s free, I’m picking it up regardless of what it is. Everyone can afford free. It seemed like less people had free stuff at their tents this year though. I checked out the Punk Voter tent and grabbed some anti-bush stickers. They had one that said “American Errorist” with a picture of Bush on it, as well as one with the well known “Not My President” logo. I find the Rise Against tent where Tim, their singer, was working the merch. I tell him I really like his band and that I’m looking forward to seeing them play later. He thanks me with a hand shake and I pick up a sticker and a promo disc with two songs from their upcoming album, Siren Song of the Counter Culture. After that, it was time to head over and get a decent spot for Avenged Sevenfold.
I found the Maurice stage, and it wasn’t like last years. For some reason, they decided to make use of the Amphitheater this year and make two stages out of it. They divided the stage in half, with one half being the Maurice stage, and the other half the Volcom. This meant there were seats! You can’t have seats while Avenged Sevenfold is playing. Luckily, there’s a rather large pit area down front with no seats. So I find my spot, and I’m standing right in front of the first row of seats, which will prove to be a bad idea when the music starts. The band ended up going on about five or ten minutes later than scheduled, so their set was going to be shortened. They played Chapter Four first, and as soon as it began, the crowd went nuts. It seemed like everyone in front charged the rear because I ended up laying across the first row of seats, with several other people on top of me. After I was able to get out from the pile, it was on. This band is pure energy on stage, and it transfers directly to their audience. They ran through a couple more songs, then finished up with my favorite song, Unholy Confessions. My only complaint is that a twenty to thirty minute set is too short for a metal band like Avenged. I’d really like to see them on a show of their own.
Up next it was either Underoath at 1:45 on the Smartpunk.com stage or Taking Back Sunday at 2:00 on the Teal stage. I first decided to watch fifteen minutes of Underoath, then head over to catch the last half of TBS. I changed my mind and decided to get a good spot for Taking Back Sunday. While waiting for the band to play, there was a girl near me who kept talking about how many times she had been to Warped, and blah blah blah. Another girl stated that it was her first concert, to which she replied “You shouldn’t came to Warped Tour for your first concert. You should’ve went to see some Emo band.” I tried so hard not to laugh right in her face. What does she think Taking Back Sunday is, a hardcore band? So anyway, on to the show. They started out with Bike Scene and the crowd was really into it, with a lot of people singing along. They also performed Great Romances Of the 20th Century, You’re So Last Summer, as well as two of their new tracks, Bonus Mosh II and another one that I can’t remember the name of. They finished up with Cute Without the ‘E’, which was a real crowd pleaser. I really got into their show and enjoyed them playing, but I was left wishing I had watched Underoath perform instead. I don’t know, they just sound better on disc I suppose.
After Taking Back Sunday, I had about an hour to kill until Rise Against played on the Maurice stage. So I wandered around looking at the merch tents for a bit, when I came upon the Epitaph tent. There was a guy on a megaphone telling all of the girls “if you want to get moist, go watch Atmosphere performing right now on the Maurice stage.” Wow, I’m not a girl but I want to get moist too. So I went over and checked out Atmosphere, who is also the only hip hop act on the tour (I believe). Even though I arrived a bit late, I was able to get right up front by the railing. I had heard several tracks by Atmosphere, but that was about as far as my experience had been with them. After seeing their show, I was really glad I had decided to check them out. they started out with a song that I was familiar with, Trying to Find a Balance. They asked for a lot of crowd participation; waving your hands, making a gun out of your fingers and shooting at the sky, etc. They also ran through Always Come Back To You, Bird Sings Why The Caged I Know, and God Loves Ugly. Of course, there were many more that I don’t know the names of, but it was a great show. On my way out of the amphitheater, I stopped by the Atmosphere/Rhymesayers tent and picked up the Atmosphere album Seven’s Travels as well as a tour only disc, Thirty-seven Random Volume 3. It features some live tracks and some mixing on one disc, and on the second disc there’s thirty-two remixed and rare Atmosphere tracks.
Rise Against was performing next on the Maurice stage. I saw them play at Warped Tour last year and was really looking forward to seeing them again. So I find my spot, again right up against the railing in front of the stage. The band performing on the Volcom stage next to them got done early, so Tim came out and said they were going to go ahead and play because he didn’t want us to wait any longer and they could play more songs. I thought that was really cool of him, because they didn’t have to actually go on for another ten to fifteen minutes. They ran through all of the crowd favorites, such as Like The Angel, Blood-Red, White, and Blue, and Broken English. The band was full of energy and the crowd was feeding off of it very well, replying back with sing-a-longs, fist pumping, and crowd surfing. Tim paused for a minute to speak. He said that the Warped tour wasn’t about “Dodge cars, Samsung cell phone ring-tones, or Army recruitment tents. It’s about punk rock.” The crowd cheered him on, and he then dedicated the next song to all of the people who were there for “the right reasons.” They performed some of their older songs from The Unraveling, Anywhere But Here, which is a song from their upcoming album. They also performed Give It All, which is from the Rock Against Bush compilation.
After they played, it was supposed to be Bad Religion on the Brian stage at 4:30. So I headed straight over to the stage, only to see that Flogging Molly was playing. I was confused, because they weren’t supposed to play until 6:30. So I headed over to the Vans tent to check out the schedule. Apparently the Alternative Press tent had the wrong times for some of the bands. So I corrected the times on my paper, accepted the fact that I had missed Flogging Molly, and headed out to catch From Autumn To Ashes on the Maurice stage. The songs I remember them playing were Milligram Smile, Lilacs and Lolita and they finished up with The After Dinner Payback. They’re another band who puts forth a lot of energy on stage, and in turn, their audiences puts forth a lot of energy in the pit. After FATA was done playing, I quickly made my way over to the Teal stage to catch the end of Alkaline Trio, who had started playing at 5:00. I caught their last song, which was a This Could Be Love/White Wedding(Billy Idol) medley. New Found Glory was playing on the same stage at 6:00, so after Alk3 I headed up front to get a good spot for their set.
There were a lot of people lining up to watch NFG, quite a few of them were younger girls. So I stood there in the sweltering heat for a half hour, surrounded by prepubescent future groupies. Yay for me. But I wanted to see New Found Glory, so I dealt. The band came onstage, and my ears were shattered by girlie screams from all around. They went directly into the fan favorite Hit Or Miss. I really don’t know who was singing more, Jordan or the audience. The crowd was really into it, and the crowd surfers…God damn the crowd surfers. I was sick and tired of being kicked in the head all day, and I really wanted to just let one of these kids fall on their head. But yeah, they played Understatement and then went into Bruised and Broken, in which Jordan encouraged people to crowd surf and to “keep ’em coming.” Thanks Jordan. The crowd surfers were coming, one by one, sometimes two by two. It was difficult to keep up with them, and I’m really surprised none of them were dropped on the concrete. Nope, but one was dropped on my head. After Bruised and Broken, I headed over to the Brian stage to get a good spot for Bad Religion. I’ve see NFG before anyway.
Bad Religion comes on and the crowd goes crazy. They first perform Oveture, which is the intro to their latest album The Empire Strikes First. They then go into Sinister Rouge, which is quite possibly one of the best songs they’ve ever made. Definitely one of my favorites. Watching lead singer Greg Graffin perform onstage, it’s almost as if he’s giving a lecture. Makes sense I suppose, considering he does have a Ph.D. and has previously been a teacher at Cornell University. They performed tracks from their new album, such as Atheist Peace and Gods Love. They also performed some older fan favorites, such as American Jesus, Recipe For Hate, 21st Century Digital Boy, and No Control. Other songs performed were Epiphany and Supersonic. I left their set a few minutes early so that I could get a good spot for NOFX on the Teal stage. When I was walking out of the Bad Religion crowd, I spotted some of the guys from Avenged Sevenfold enjoying the show. I would’ve loved to have them sign my program, but didn’t want to interrupt the show for them. Instead, I settled for just a hello and telling them I enjoyed their show earlier.
Lots of people already waiting for NOFX, but I still managed to get a good spot close to the front. The first song they played was Murder the Government, which Fat Mike adapted the beginning verse to be more current. I don’t recall exactly what he said, but it started out “I wanna see Dick Cheney have a heart attack. I wanna see us get the fuck out of Iraq.” They made jokes and poked fun at people between their songs. Fat Mike said he hurt is neck, so he walked around like a robot most of the time and couldn’t move his head. Hefe said he was full of shit and didn’t hurt his neck, but if that’s true, he did a damn convincing job of playing it off. It was funny to watch, but I kind of felt bad for the guy. If he honestly hurt his neck, then I’m glad to see they still played. They performed Kill the White Man, which is a slower, reggae styled track. They played a lot of older material, such as Bob, Bottles To The Ground, Drugs Are Good and Fuck The Kids, which was requested by someone in the audience. They only played a couple of songs from their latest album, which were Franco Un-American and Oops, I OD’d.” They finished off their set with the unrecorded crowd pleaser of a tribute to Mr. George Bush himself, Idiot Son Of An Asshole. Excellent way to end an excellent performance.
Up next on the Brian stage was Yellowcard at 7:30. This is why I love Warped Tour. You can see a metal band at one point during the day, then a hip hop act, and later a pop-punk band all in the same day. I love the variety. So I get over to the stage and Yellowcard is already playing. I don’t plan on watching their entire set, so I don’t worry about making my way through the crowd and instead just stand near the back. The songs I saw them play were all from their latest album, Ocean Avenue. They performed Believe, Way Away, and Only One. After that, I was off to the Teal stage to catch the last band of the day, Story Of The Year, who was playing at 8:00.
I get over to the Teal stage and get close to the front just in time to see the band walking out to play. They started out by playing And The Hero Will Drown, which is the first track off of their album Page Avenue. These guys were full of energy from the start, and were jumping all over the place. The crowd was really into them as well. In order to beat the traffic, I had only planned to stay long enough to hear them play Until the Day I Die. But as they got further into their set, I realized they were probably saving it for last. I saw them perform Divide and Conquer and Anthem Of Our Dying Day as well as another song which escapes me at the moment. I then decided to call it a day and head out. As I was driving out of the parking lot, I could hear them playing Until the Day I Die.
Highlights of the day: Avenged Sevenfold, Bad Religion, From Autumn to Ashes, and NOFX
Disappointments of the day: Missing Anti-Flag, choosing Taking Back Sunday over Underoath, $3.50 bottle of Dasani water.