Saturday, June 27, 2009

SPF 666

The exciting sequel to Swinging On The Gallows Pole and A Rainy Night!

Warped Tour
Pier 30/32, San Francisco

June 26, 2009

Although Umlaut has been going to Warped off and on for years, the recent ones have sort of *required* my attendance due to bizness relationships (Hey Kurt!). At around 9:30AM on this Saturday morning I noticed this Twitter from Gallows:

gallowsofficial we're playing at 11am today on the Hurley stage in San Francisco. Everyone's still asleep hahaha

FUCK ME... Gallows were basically the only band I wanted to see this year!! Thankfully BART was running flawlessy and I made it into the festival site along the S.F. waterfront with 15 minutes to spare before the lads hit the stage. To make things better, S.F. was already starting to bake under this weekend's SPF 666 heatwave! Hot fun in the Summertime.

This was my 4th time seeing Gallows (after Warped 2007, New York City 2007, and Slim's 2008) and it raised the level of my fandom even more. As I've said from Day One: Gallows are the real fucking deal! They just go out and do it, no matter how big or small their audience might be... They take a situation and make it their own... and THAT'S the sign of a great band! It was 11:00AM... most of the kidz were still waiting in line trying to get inside or still at home getting ready for the all day festivities... but Gallows rose to the occasion to serve us a breakfast of mayhem.

At around 11:00AM they launched into 'Friendly Bombs' and the next 30 minutes or so was one of the best sets I've seen a band play all year! After the first 2 songs Frank and his brother Stephen climbed over the barrier and performed the next 4 songs from The Pit amongst the growing crowd of kids. It was awesome... WAY more awesome than the dive into The Pit Frank took at their Bay Area debut at Warped 2007. For their first song amongst the people, Frank changed the lyrics of 'London Is The Reason' to "S.F. is the reason!" Nicely done, lad.

Frank goes over the wall while Stephen waits his turn
(Pic by Umlaut)

As I was watching the performance standing on the barrier I noticed a good number of youngsters pushing their way to the front and being completely oblivious that 2/5 of the band was behind them... yet they dutifully watched the rest of the band perform and not once did I see it register on their faces "Wait a minute... none of the guys onstage are singing.. where is the singer!?" It didn't happen... stupid kidz.. However, the hundreds of kidz who were paying attention became one with the band for the rest of their set, including an awesome crowd participation version of 'Gold Dust' that had Frank directing a pit to circle around the soundboard:

(Vids by Umlaut)

In the 2nd video, note Frank and Stephen in the middle of The Pit... and Stephen taking off and joining The Pit while still playing guitar! EPIC! I fucking love this band so much, man... and, dude, all of that action happened before Noon... and I had only had coffee for breakfast! The tone of my day was thus set. A couple of hours later I was walking backstage and noticed a setlist trampled on the ground and noticed "London" printed on it.. and I immediately knew what band it was and picked it up... SCORE!

"S.F. is the reason!"

After Gallows, my day could have been over but instead I spent the next 6-7 hours walking... walking... walking.. walking trying to check out other bands on the festivals 7-8 stages... walking to go chat with Bizness friends... walking as I waded through the sea of humanity. Thankfully I had Photo Ray and HRC to keep me company for the day.. with guest appearances by Alan, The Man & His Lady, and a literally 10 second appearance by Nikki Blakk.

I'll just go ahead and say it: Warped is for The Kidz and not for an Old Fart like me. I find the vast majority of the bands to be crapola and derivative of other bands who came before them... but the majority of the sold out crowd of around 35,000 kids didn't care since, to quote Poison (which is something I loath to do, but it fits the mindset), "It ain't nothin' but a good time"..

On the other hand, Warped Tour is a branding juggernaut and a celebration of Vans and the company's 43 year (!) history. For the newbies, if you don't know the history of Vans it's a pretty cool one and the people there are some of the coolest and legit folks I know... and this year I was once again introduced to Steve Van Doren (aka VANS) , whose family started the company in 1966... which trips me out. Yes, Vans was started by one person with a vision. Crazy, right? The Van Doren legacy can be seen on the feet of the thousands of kidz at Warped; I always trip on how practically EVERY kid at a Warped Tour show is wearing Vans. Vans are everywhere, and that's a good thing.

Anyway, back to the bands... Aside from the Old Skool Stage, most of the bands were simply 3rd generation versions of one band or another.. but I did spend time watching a few:

D.I.: I swear, at last year's Warped Tour at Shoreline I arrived at the Old Skool Stage just as D.I. were playing 'Richard Hung Himself'... Fast forward to 2009 in S.F. and as I arrived at the Old School Stage, D.I. were playing 'Richard Hung Himself' again. Weird.

Dommin: I've missed seeing this band twice over the past year, but seeing their dramatic Gothy selves in daylight wasn't ideal... However, the band was entertaining and opened with a raw version of their signature song 'My Heart, Your Hands'... but the best part of their set was facilitating a heartwarming HRC > Kristofer Dommin special moment before the set.

Dommin (Pic by Umlaut)

Duane Peters Gunfight: Back at the Old Skool Stage, I had no idea who this band was and had to ask the kid standing in front of me ("Gee Mister... Why, it's the Duane Peters Gunfight..").. The band is fronted by pro skater Duane Peters and they were straight up old school Punk Rock with 6 members including a guitarist who was dead ringer for a more road-weary Ron Wood. Their 3 guitar attack and seasoned musicianship made them stand out amongst all the newbie band pretenders. Me likey.

Bad Religion: I've seen Bad Religion so many times... same as it ever was... I've never really been a fan.. so there you go... Took some pics from the Photo Pit.. Then a mean security person told us to leave despite our VIP passes.. Whatever, Little Napoleon!

TSOL: Again at the Old Skool Stage... The last time I saw TSOL they were playing the Old Skool Stage at last year's Warped and I had exactly the same thought all over again: THAT'S the band in Suburbia?! Darker my love.....

Adolescents: Still at the Old Skool Stage, it was funny how I still know the lyrics to 'Amoeba' after all these years. Also, one of the guitarists looked exactly like a guy I used to work with in the Lock 'N Loll Biz... and it was tripping me out.. and not in a good way.

In This Moment: They basically were playing on a small flatbed truck with the Ernie Ball logo on it. Unfortunately, Maria Brink's dimensions were more impressive than their songs. After a song and a half it was time to wander around some more...

Flipper: No Krist Novoselic on bass this time around. The last time I saw Flipper they were sloppy and great at The Fillmore. This time they were a bit tighter.. and they played 'Sacrifice'.. but I didn't enjoy them as much for some reason... and I said goodbye to the Old Skool Stage and didn't stick around for The Dickies again this year; I probably should have at least stayed to hear 'Gigantor'.. Oh well.

Shooter Jennings: Waylon's only son on the Warped Tour!? According to the setlist they were supposed to play 6 songs, but one song was crossed out so all we got was 5 tunes... His brand of Country Rock was the perfect alternative to all of the crappy new Punk and Metal bands that had polluted my day; the song 'California Via Tennessee' was the highlight for me. Seeing a band with legit musicians was exactly what I needed late in the afternoon of this hot day. Plus, Shooter looks exactly like his dad..

Shooter Jennings (Pic by Umlaut)

Black Tide: This was my 4th time seeing these Metal youngsters (when their debut album came out last year the band ranged in age from a mere 14 to 19 years old).. Long story short, although I liked their album, I have not been impressed with the band onstage at all. That being said, this time around Black Tide were better... more seasoned.. although I was very amused how the band's front kid Gabriel is all tough and inked now and asked the crowd if they liked to "suck cock" and also something about "hairy assholes" (perhaps a homage to San Francisco and it being Gay Pride Weekend...).. I wonder what his Mom would have said if she'd been there to hear her teenage son say such nasty things?! "Gabriel!! You go straight to your tour bus!! And no strippers for you tonight, young man!!" You go, Black Tide kidz! Just start working on your 2nd album already.....

NOFX: For the hell of it, as I made my way to the exit, HRC and I wandered onstage to watch a bit of NOFX. I noticed a large group of people standing near the stage ramp, but we walked past them and up the ramp like we belonged there. Minutes later that side of the stage became jam packed with NOFX's guests and families (including an Asian S.F. Hell's Angel 1% brutha..). After 30 seconds of their first song I decided it was time to go home since I couldn't see shit from that vantage point and I was over wading through the humanity. Bye bye.

THANKS as always to Kurt SuperSix8 for sorting our passes, etc.! He's a host in the truest sense of the term.

Merch audit: There was alot of merch (The End).. On the way back to BART, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. All in all it was a good afternoon to spend outdoors, but that evening I was completely loopy from all the sun, which almost caused me problems while driving through a DUI check point near Casa de Umlaut... Thank dog for sunscreen!