Sunday, June 27, 2010

No Escort Needed

Warped Tour 2010
Shoreline Amphitheater, Mt. View, CA
June 26, 2010

Summer's here and the time is right for Warped Tour in the streets... Unfortunately, the 2010 edition only has one Bay Area stop because Pier 30/32 in S.F. is out of commission... which, for better or worse, meant the only option was Shoreline for 8+ hours featuring 87 bands (!) on 8 stages. Quantity over quality is what Warped really is, but it is an event tailored for kidz and not old farts like Umlaut. Ironically, exactly a year ago to the day Umlaut was at Pier 30/32 for Warped 2009. Time rolls on, man... and while I've been to a lot of Warped Tours in the past this was the first time I attended solo... which was a little weird since I can't remember the last time I attended a big show all by my lonesome.

Warped has now been around for so long it's become a multi-generational institution that's continued to thrive where other festivals (like OzzFest) have either imploded or become shadows of their former selves. Despite the gridlock crowd it's always heartwarming to see parents wearing Dead Kennedys shirts escorting their young kids at these shows. Passing the torch... and the brand loyalty the Warped crowd shows to Vans is mindboggling. All you have to do is look at the shoes the crowd is wearing and it's safe to say 95% (or maybe more) of the audience are wearing Vans. As I walked towards Will Call with the masses I noticed a guy dressed in black with spiky bleached blonde hair had fallen into step next to me. I noticed the G.B.H. laminate on his belt and realized it was G.B.H. vocalist Colin Abrahall... DOH! However, before I could say something to him someone else recognized him and started a conversation. Oh well... Colin probably wouldn't have cared to know that I saw G.B.H. in 1985 anyway.

Once inside I watched some of Berkeley's own The Uptones on a side stage and then I was fascinated watching the English band Bring Me The Horizon play to a massive crowd on the Main Stage. BMTH had the thousands of kidz in the palm of their hand and got some serious crowd action going. I can't say I liked their Mall Metal, but their performance was impressive. Once they were done I made my way backstage to wait for Dillinger Escape Plan, who were the only band besides G.B.H. that I *needed* to see out of the 87 (!) bands. Eventually I found myself standing next to DEP as they were preparing to walk onstage.

However, just before they made their entrance I darted to the other side of the stage and grabbed a prime vantage spot that was out of the way of the band and their crew. Perfect.

DEP are a band whose onstage personality is so completely out of control I can't imagine what a band rehearsal is like because chaos is such an integral part of them. The members of DEP like to climb on things... they climb on top of amps... speaker cabinets... stage scaffolding... anything that isn't stage level. It's as if one of the band's missions is to defy gravity as they assault an audience with their volume.

I'll use lazy music "journalism" and say that DEP are like a retarded offspring of Faith No More / any Mike Patton solo project and Fugazi... at least those are the bands that pop into my head when I listen to them more often than not. However, the only other bands I can call equals to DEP onstage would be Jesus Lizard, A Place To Bury Strangers, and the mighty Gallows... These are bands who do not play it safe and who embrace spontaneity and unpredictability and perform like they're physically invincible.

Vid by Umlaut

During the first to the last song Ben flipped his guitar around his body for probably the 12th time of the set... but this time the tuning peg of the 6th string (I'm not a guitarist... so whatever string that is..) caught on something and it broke clean off! However, instead of switching guitars like any other guitarist in the heat of combat, he continued playing it as a 5-string for the remainder of that song and for the final song of the set. I hope DEP's guitar tech (actually all of their crew guys) get combat pay.

Dead tuning peg...

During the last song of the set, Jeff the rhythm guitarist jumped down into the photo pit and climbed over the barrier to run the pit while playing. Yes, the Gallows did that at Warped last year... but it's always fun to see a guitarist take full advantage of his wireless system. Once Jeff was back onstage, for a finale DEP did their best impression of The Who circa 1967 by tearing down their backline and drum kit... starting with Ben lying on his back on the stage and dragging one of his Marshall cabinets to the front of the stage. As I said earlier, I hope DEP's crew guys get combat pay.

Vid by Umlaut

I think it should also be noted that I'm pretty sure none of DEP were wearing Vans shoes.

After DEP finished I stayed in a corner at stage right so I wouldn't get in the way of the stagehands switching over the gear for Andrew WK's set to follow. Sorry, I'm not a fan... I finally made a move to get off the stage and almost got ran over by a couple of roadies pushing a rack of guitars... but I managed to dodge out of the way and, after walking the merch tent village, I deposited myself in the bar with a cold beer. I spaced out while checking e-mails and text messages and forgot Suicide Silence were playing on one of the other stages. Oooops... Wow, I was tired since I only got a few hours of sleep and being at Warped all by lonesome wasn't as much fun as I thought it might be... and G.B.H. weren't due to play for another 4 hours and I didn't have it in me to kill that much time at Shoreline. So I listened to my heart and returned to Casa de Umlaut, much to the approval of the cats 'n dogs.

Yes, I basically went to Warped 2010 to see Dillinger Escape Plan which was all I needed out of the afternoon. Quality over quantity. Thanks as always to my brutha Kurt SuperSix8 for sorting me with an All Access. He's a host in the truest sense of the term.

Number of Iron Maiden shirts = 4. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. Quality over quantity and I got home without sunburn. WIN.

Greg of DEP not wearing Vans... Umlaut..
(Pic courtesy of Alan Ralph)