BRIGHTON, Colorado After their early 30-minute set at the
third stop of the 2002 Vans Warped Tour, the members of Something Corporate
were in a sorry state.
Andrew McMahon, the group's vocalist and pianist, had been taken to a nearby
hospital with a badly swollen and potentially broken ankle he'd mangled
while jumping around onstage. After noticing a bright and bumpy rash
spreading across his back, guitarist/singer William Tell had gone in search
of a nurse. The other bandmembers drummer Brian Ireland, guitarist
Josh Partington and bassist Clutch were faring better: They had no
injuries or ailments. They were just stinky.
"None of us smell good at all," said Clutch. "They have a shuttle thing that
takes people to and from the venue to the hotel so that you can take a
shower, but we haven't done it yet."
Such is the life of a band on the Warped Tour, the two-month traveling
punk-rock summer camp that began in 1994. The tour kicked off Friday in
Boise, Idaho, and will stop in 47 cities, bringing a staff of nearly 500
musicians and crew members, not to mention a whole lot of tour busses and
amps, along with it. For first-timers like Something Corporate, the benefits
of joining the tour such as the opportunity to reach approximately
15,000 listeners per stop outweigh the pain of any bumps and bruises
they acquire along the way.
"Being a part of this tour just makes us feel like what we're doing is for
real," says Partington. "We go up onstage, play for 30 minutes, then hang
out with all these new people who've never heard our music before but tell
us they love it. We get to be in the presence of all of these amazing
musicians that we've admired forever. It's just the greatest experience for
For fans, the Warped Tour is an annual excuse to spend the day in the sun,
soaking up rays as well as music from both unknown and familiar artists,
such as Lagwagon, Bad Religion and NOFX, who closed Sunday's stop in
Brighton, an agricultural suburb on Denver's northern fringe. Nearly 40
bands took turns on a pair of main stages, alternating with almost Swiss
precision. Rarely were there lapses of more than a minute or two between
acts, allowing crowd members to brace themselves for the next round of
mosh-pit melees or wave of crowd-surfing.
And though the Warped Tour's heart primarily beats along with the hyper
rhythms, frenetic melodies and rousing anthems of pop-punk and hardcore rock
and roll, this year's lineup includes some artists who share a more of a
philosophical than a sonic kinship with those genres.
"We've played for R&B audiences, we play for hip-hop audiences, but punk
audiences are always the best," said Peter Morgan of Morgan Heritage, a
reggae band that played to a pierced, inked and spiky-haired congregation.
"Reggae and punk-rock music are both revolutionary. They're not censored."
Warped-goers taking a break from the main stages had plenty of diversions to
occupy their time. Seeking refuge from a blistering sun and hot air tinged
with smoke from wildfires burning south of Denver, some concertgoers were
content to lie beneath the stationery cabs of semi trucks. To the delight of
many of the boys in the audience, young women paraded the grounds wearing
little more than strategically placed stickers for bands like No Use for a
Name and Alkaline Trio on their chests.
Recalling images of Woodstock '99, fans threw themselves into a makeshift
mud bog and rolled happily in the slop as onlookers cheered them on. Pro
skaters including Stave Caballero, Mike Frazier and Neal Hendrix and BMX
riders such as Rick Thorne and Dave Romwell took turns catching air on a
huge half-pipe. Fans lined up at band merchandise booth as acts appeared to
sign CDs, posters, T-shirts and flesh.
"We think of the Warped Tour as kind of like everyone's big birthday party,"
New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert said. New Found Glory have played on
the Warped Tour four times, beginning with a slot on the Ernie Ball Local
Stage at a Florida show in 1999. "Everyone knows about it, and they can look
forward to it every year, because they know the Warped Tour is always going
to be there."
"It's just a big party," added NFG drummer Cyrus Bolooki, "and it's always a
surprise. The tour can never get boring because no one ever knows who's
going to play when until the day they get there. That's what makes it so
interesting for the people who come as well as for the bands."
For newbie artists like Partington and rest of Something Corporate, the best
part might be keeping company with some of modern punk's tribal elders.
"The talent is amazing," he said, "and we get to be around it every day. I
think you'd have to be an idiot to spend two months on the road with these
people and not have at least a little bit of it rub off on you."
Should anything less savory than talent rub off on Partington and his mates,
at least they'll know where to find the nurse.