These are some of the bands I was looking forward to seeing at Warped Darien Lake 2012:
We the Kings
Unfortunately, you never know at what time or on which stage your favorites are performing on until you get there an pay $2.00 for a single printed sheet with stages, artists and performance times on one side and a map on the other. Sometimes you have to decide between two bands.
I got there at noon, grabbed a map and a beer and plotted my day.
I found that a couple of my favorites, Streetlight Manifesto and Funeral Party were on late, Funeral Party not until 7:50. It was going to be a long day.
The best thing to do when one of your favorites isn’t scheduled is just wander from stage until you hear something you like.
The first band I found was at the Tilly.com stage: Polar Bear Club. They are actually local-ish, from the Rochester/Syracuse area. I would call them sort of punk/alternative in genre. I especially liked Living Saints. I picked up their latest release at their merch tent.
Very cool band, but they looked like they should be at Lowes buying mulch.
One of the craziest things I saw was a Hari Krishna tent. I tweeted “The 1970’s called. They want their religion back.” I have honestly not seen a Hari Krishna since the 1970s and I was floored. Total timewarp. Same shaved heads, same robe-ish garments, same chanting, same handing out books.
The crowd at Warped tends to be young, so their focus on attracting the attention of younger people has not changed. They wisely staked out one of the few shady spots on one of the hottest days of the year, so there were tons of kids to hear the chanting and messages of peace and love the Krishnas called through their megaphone.
It was hella hot. Sunscreen had run into my eyes and I soon needed to find a corner where I could ponify my hair.
The uniform of the day seemed to be bikini tops and short shorts or no shirts for the guys. I have no objection to skimpy clothing to keep cool (although I kept my pasty Irish skin well-covered) but the problem is that when you bump into someone wearing next to nothing you tend to stick to them.
There were also a ton of facial piercings, which I have no objection to other than with my undiagnosed, but likely ADD, I feel like I am going to sprain an eyeball trying to land my focus. There were also the ubiquitous tattoos, indicating a generation which has a boatload of disposable income and no fear of commitment.
I continued my rounds when I heard Phone Calls From Home playing from the OurStage.com stage and immediately backpeddled to hear more. Great Sound, great attitude.
Their audience was mostly very young cute girls, but the band is young cute guys. Sort of a pop/punk sound, positive lyrics and I was grateful that the band members kept spraying the audience with supersoakers. I hope they go far.
I next stopped by the freestyle hiphop stage, which was basically a platform level with the ground. Subkulture Patriots were performing. It was pretty much impossible to stand still while they were on. The biggest challenge for me was throwing my hands up in the air without accidental jazz hands.
I had no kids with me, but I cheated and popped into the Reverse Daycare Tent. It was an air conditioned tent set up for parents who had brought their kids to the concert. It was equipped with a cooler for refilling your water bottle, camp chairs and an iphone charging station. Chair massage was offered for a few bucks and Caddyshack played on a decent sized flat screen television. Great idea. It was a nice break for a few minutes.
Next I went to the We the Kings set on the Kia Soul Stage. This one one of the biggest crowds I saw all day and it was peak heat as well. People were dropping right and left from the heat and being carried off by security and EMTs.
Despite pushing water all afternoon, I was already headachy and a little queasy by now and I was for sure not going to be the next carried off, so I bought a Powerade from a local vendor and grabbed a little bit of shade in the shadow of the VIP box.
I couldn’t see the stage from my vantage point, but I could hear just fine. We the Kings is sort of pop/punk/alternative and despite the audience being completely lethargic by this point, it was still a great set.
My main reason for attending this year was Streetlight Manifesto, one of my favorite ska bands. This is the fourth or fifth time I have seen them live. They were on the main stage, under the tent. It was a little stuffy, but at least there was shade. The set seemed really short, but that is likely because they are my favorites.
I weaseled my way up to the front row as I like to do and had a blast watching Mike Brown, the rubber-faced baritone saxophonist as well as Toh Kay and the rest of the gang. I was amused by a kid standing near me, sporting a ginger handlebar mustache and playing air sax.
I also enjoyed watching the crowd surfers from my vantage point. They each seemed compelled to entertain us as they ran off to the side, reminiscent to the Ministry of Silly Walks. One surfer was dropped by the crowd and Thomas Kalnoky stopped performing to ask if he was okay.
I headed back to the Tillys.com stage to wait for Funeral Party and found Justina who called herself the “Hip Hop Joan Jett” performing the set before them.
She tried to get the tired audience of 15 or so going. She sang, “I’m the Hip Hop Joan Jett” and wanted the audience to sing back “I love rock n roll, drugs and rough sex” but people mostly stared back at her, slack-jawed.
Her act featured a lot of swearing and graphic sexual moves.
She also sang “Bubblegum, bubblegum, pop my bubblegum,” punctuated with “Dirty Mouth?” in a put on English accent.
It was like a SNL parody of a band. Even security was having a hard time keeping a straight face
Finally, the band I had been waiting for, Funeral Party. Funeral Party came to my attention last year when I heard New York City Moves to the Sound of LA on Alt Nation (XM Radio) which they sadly did not play. Unfortunately this was one of the last sets of the day and they were playing against Yellowcard, so there were only a handful of people left to hear the set.
They were even better live than on the radio, the percussion-heavy sound anchored by the amazing drummer, Dylan Miller. I would be happier if I could find an interview with them where they didn’t sound petulant and defensive.
Warped Tour is always the highlight of my summer and this year was no different. I can’t wait till next year!