BMS picks best of the Warped Tour

A review of the Warped Tour at the Comcast Center on July 23, 2008

, Staff Writer

Everyone’s experience of Warped Tour ’08 at the Comcast Center was unique, so it’s pointless to write some kind of linear review. Instead, we’ve decided to award some superlatives to the band’s that BMS was able to catch in honor of all the high school kids that made their way out to the Comcast Center on Wednesday for half hour sets from what seemed like 300 bands. Without further ado, we present the Best of the Vans Warped Tour.

Best Song – Against Me! with "Thrash Unreal"

With their early afternoon set time Against Me! essentially got the day started for many at the festival, and what a start it was. The band delivered what it promised, a tight set devoid of talk and filled with focused cuts from the standout album New Wave. Delivering 11 songs in their half hour slot, the band started with "New Wave", showing off one of the best sound mix’s of the day, and flowed into "Stop!" and it’s impressive three part harmonies.

Against Me! showed their versatility, moving from straight punk to four on the floor dance beats to Dropkick flavored Irish tunes before the punk-pop perfection of "Thrash Unreal", which possesses its own internal momentum and got the Monster-infused crowd ready for the long day ahead.

Best Cover – Reel Big Fish with "Enter Sandman"

They may have only played a verse and a chorus, but the band’s playful yet solid take on the Metalica favorite definitely got the crowd on their side, if they weren’t already after the band’s decision to open with "Sellout". The rest of the set was all harmony, from voices and the horn section, and guitar upstrokes from lead singer and guitar player Aaron Barrett.

Songs from the new album Monkeys for Nothing and the Chimps For Free were just as fun as standards "She Has A Girlfriend Now", which featured a shot at / nod to Katy Perry, and "I Want Your Girlfriend to Be My Girlfriend Too". Besides being fun the band was funny as well, especially after a moshing accident when backup vocalist Scott Klopfenstein said, "We need some EMT’s, because we’re not trained in medecine." A feel good set all around, except for the injured party.

Biggest Crowd, Negative – Say Anything

When lead singer Max Bemis said, "This is maybe the biggest crowd we’ve had so far", one could hear the nervousness in his voice. Unfortunately, due to rough weather and a perceived lack of experience, Say Anything failed to capitalize on their extra large following. Part of the problem was that Bemis let the crowd sing most of the important parts of songs like "Alive with the Glory of Love" and "Wow I Can Be Sexual Too".

On the other hand, songs like "Every Man Has a Molly" and "Skinny, Mean" showed a lot of promise if the band could work on dynamics and stage presence. If anything, hopefully the set inspired the band to aspire to greater heights, as its clear they have a larger following than they may have suspected.

Best Gimmick – Gym Class Heroes

"Peace Sign / Index Down" has it all. Catchy gimmick, bluesy piano roll, insistent beat, nice rap. The song inspired enough crowd participation that lead singer Travis McCoy remarked, "This is almost the best stop of the tour and its only the second song." After kicking off the set with "Clothes Off!" Things only got better from there. The rap fronted pop-punk outfit was one of the pleasant surprises of the day.

Biggest Crowd, Positive – Ludo

BMS was at the Hurley stage to see Ludo anyways, but at 4:15, just as the band’s set began, thousands came streaming in under the canopy to avoid a massive thunderstorm and ended up giving the band a nearly full Comcast Center to play to. Unfazed, Ludo stayed focused through a tight set on their first day with the tour.

"Drunken Lament" sounded a bit like Weezer with electronics and sported an excellent half-time chorus. "Broken Bride" impressed with its frequent shifts between syncopated rhythms, half time feel, tom rolls, and straight ahead rock. The band proved they would thrive in a club with "Good Will Hunting By Yourself", but handled the arena capably with "Love Me Dead", a close cousin of The Black Parade. Expect more big things from this band.

Best Dressed – Cobra Starship

With a couple of band members in white pants and one in a teal hoodie, Body Glove tee, red glasses, skinny jeans, flourescent Nikes, and a hat, Cobra Starship had this category locked up. Throw in a nicely dressed girl on the keytar and it was a runaway win. Lead singer Gabe Saporta told the crowd that "the only thing we give a fuck about is being your guilty pleasure." They showed why with a set reminiscent of Bang Camaro in that it focused only on hooks.

"The City Is at War", "Send My Love to the Dancefloor", "Church of Hot Addiction", "Smile for the Papparazzi", there was no stopping Cobra Starship as they brought everyone’s spirits up after the long rain delay. "Snakes on a Plane (Bring It)" was fun, but set closer "Guilty Pleasure" got the entire crowd dancing like idiots (check it out on YouTube). An untraditional, but very welcome, Warped Tour set overall.

Best Moment – Street Dogs

During "Not Without a Purpose" a man marched out from the band’s merch table into the middle of a circle pit holding aloft a huge Street Dogs flag. He remained at attention there for the rest of the show as jubilant kids banged into each other all around him, and he moved only to reposition himself as lead singer Mike McColgan orchestrated a giant circle pit around the sound tent during "In Defense of Dorchester".

The "only punk band from Massachusetts" at the festival, the Street Dogs showed the newer bands on the scene a thing or two about how to command a crowd. McColgan encouraged the fans to bring back the pogo dance for "Two Angry Kids" before the band got to "Toby’s Got a Drinking Problem", which, fittingly, started off innocent then kicked in heavy.

After the peak of "In Defense of Dorchester" McColgan dedicated "Fighter" to The Ramones, without whom "there would be no Vans Warped Tour." The song culminated in a huge singalong, after which McColgan crowd surfed his way over to the merch table, capping off a very fine homecoming show indeed.

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