Warped Tour turns 15 but falls short
A review of the Vans Warped Tour at the Comcast Center on July 21, 2009
Can you believe it? The Warped Tour turned fifteen this year. Although it’s hard to believe the time has gone by so fast, what’s really mind boggling is the way that they decided to celebrate the feat: with one of the poorest lineups in the tour’s history.
The Warped Tour has given kids a place to comfortably be their hormone-raging freakish selves for years. It has grown a solid reputation with understandable flaws, but has never been as flawed as this year. For starters, the lack of any real headliners makes one wonder if this tour is still growing or waning away while the overwhelming commercialism of the tour seems to be tearing at it’s soul. The addition of downpours for most of the afternoon also did not mix well with the already dreary lineup.
To give them credit, although this year’s tour may not be boasting the biggest names, the Warped Tour formula is still one of the best in the business: for the small admission price of about $30 you get to see over 60 bands, meet the stars, and peruse the tent areas where one can find the punk rock knick-knacks of their dreams. Also, a few Warped Tour vets such as Bad Religion, Less Than Jake and NoFX were on the bill to give the more casual fan an interest in the show. Still, not to be a downer or anything, but even they couldn’t give the show the boost that it needed.
Bad Religion took the stage to the largest crowd to gather throughout the day, playing a solid set, but not quite living up to their reputation as a great live band. They sounded a bit on the tired side (perhaps from too much partying) but managed to conjure up some excitement with hits like “Los Angeles Is Burning” and “21st Century”. Speaking of partying, NoFX clearly did so beforehand as their show was sloppy and disorganized. They spent most of their time goofing around with dumb jokes in between less than exciting performances.
In other news, inside on the Comcast Center’s main stage Canada’s darling, Lights, showed how smooth they are with their slow synthy dance grooves. More suited for a club show, their set didn’t go over as well in the amphitheater as it most likely would at a place like Harper’s Ferry or Great Scott but there was hope.
The stage inside the shed was busy all day as many took comfort in the amphitheater seats while others filled the pit to get a closer look at some of their favorite bands. Meg & Dia, one of the poppier groups in the lineup, covered Blind Melon’s “No Rain” after the storm had finally stopped. Going in a much different direction, Senses Fail followed them and brought the aggression, as well as a story about a beef with another unnamed band on the tour (Drama!). The night ended strongly with The White Tie Affair thrilling the ladies with a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” with two wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men by their side before Big D and the Kids Table rocked the homecoming crowd with a stellar set that had the pit full of life as kids surfed the crowd like Johnny Tsunami. Speaking of hometown bands, Boston was also well represented earlier in the day thanks by local favorites Westbound Train, Therefore I Am,& and Say When.
There were highs and lows throughout the day, as there will be with any show of this size, but with such an occasion as the 15th Anniversary of the Warped Tour one would expect much more highs. Hopefully it was just a bump on the road and the tour returns next summer with the greater highs that we have come to expect over the past 15 years.