CHULA VISTA, Calif. Despite the hype surrounding pop-punk trio Green Day, the clear favorites at Saturday's Vans Warped Tour stop near San Diego were geek-rockers Weezer.
The group, who dropped out of sight in 1997, closed the daylong concert at the Coors Amphitheatre parking lot with a collection of radio hits.
Singer/guitarist and all-around recluse Rivers Cuomo, wearing his trademark plastic-framed glasses and red-striped '80s polo shirt, greeted fans who flashed "W" hand signs and called out "Weeeeeeezer!"
"I didn't even know Weezer was going to be here!" Jacob Reed, 20, of Oceanside, Calif., said. "Now my ticket is totally worth the price. To be honest, I was getting kind of sick of listening to the same three chords all day long."
The sixth annual "punk-rock summer camp" featured five music stages, live skateboard and BMX demonstrations, and rows and rows of lifestyle vendor booths. Saturday's concert was the second stop for the outing, which runs through Aug. 6.
Weezer, who are touring without Matt Sharp (now with the Rentals), opened their 30-minute set with a guitar-heavy version of "My Name Is Jonas" (RealAudio excerpt), off their self-titled 1994 debut.
The guys didn't say much of anything while powering through "Say It Ain't So" and "Undone The Sweater Song" (RealAudio excerpt) except to tell the hyped-up, mostly teenage audience of more than 11,000 how crazy they were.
"You guys f---ing rock, man," Cuomo said to the crowd-surfers.
Evidence of fans' frenzied activity could be seen on many audience members' bloodied clothes and by the number of ice packs spotted throughout the day.
"The Warped Tour kicks ass but make sure to wear good shoes," said 22-year-old Jessica Kelly of Mission Beach, Calif., who was walking around with bloody, bare feet. "All I know is I put my sandals in my pocket, and they disappeared, then I stepped on a bottle cap. But it's totally been worth it."
Whether it was a set by protest punkers Good Riddance or by riot-grrrl rockers the Lunachicks, the revved-up kids clad in skateboard T-shirts and brightly dyed hair kept a mosh pit going all day.
The pit was most intense when Berkeley, Calif.'s Green Day took the stage. The Warped Tour lineups are chosen randomly at each stop, and this time the multiplatinum act played at 5 p.m. But the early set didn't dampen the wild streak of singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt or drummer Tré Cool.
The trio opened with "Welcome to Paradise" (RealAudio excerpt), off 1994's Dookie, the album that helped bring punk rock into the mainstream. They continued on a hit parade with tight renditions of "Geek Stink Breath," "Longview," "She" and other radio hits.
Armstrong, decked out in a red shirt and black tie, performed with intense gazes, but it was difficult for anyone under 6 feet tall to get a good look at the stage. In no time, girls in triangle bikini tops started popping up on guys' shoulders. People in the back kept hopping up and down to get a glimpse of the action.
The singer kept things interactive, dividing the crowd in two and ordering the sides to yell "f--- you" and "suck my ass" to each other. After that, Armstrong brought up a young girl to play guitar with the band before asking her to stagedive into the crowd. The group closed their eight-song set with the angst anthem "Basket Case" (RealAudio excerpt).
The festival also featured strong sets by bad girls the Donnas, poppy punk godfathers NOFX and Scandinavian rockers Millencolin.
Ska vets the Mighty Mighty Bosstones turned things up when they shot a man out of a giant red, white and blue cannon, igniting even more enthusiasm from the amped-up crowd. But it was practically impossible to catch all the acts, which also included the Long Beach Dub Allstars, MxPx, Jurassic 5 and dozens of others.
There were also exhilarating skateboard and BMX demonstrations to take in, not to mention the finger skateboard-competition in the vendor area.
Even the girls from the Donnas took time to stroll by, sign autographs and check out the Tiki Tent, where the local Polynesian-music outfit the Cheap Leis performed soothing sounds during the chaotic day.
"I'm having a really good time," said Luis Montijo, 16, of Tijuana, Mexico. "Green Day was awesome, and I think all these skaters and all these people are great."
While there was hardly any shade during the blazing afternoon and practically nowhere to sit, the tattooed and pierced Warped Tour fans barely complained about anything except mosh-induced cuts and sores.
"I came to see Green Day and they were wonderful," Ruth Maiten, 24, of Costa Mesa, Calif., said. "I think this is a good replacement for Lollapalooza."