Sunday, August 15, 2010

Growing Old With the Warped Tour

I've never had a bad time at Warped Tour. I kind of lived for it as a teen. The first out of town shows I played with my old punk band were scheduled around getting to see Warped in Denver (it never hits my hometown of Albuquerque).

So it was actually a huge thrill for me to get to talk to Warped founder Kevin Lyman for this preview of today's Portland-area show. In fact, I figured he'd probably be too busy to do it. But apparently, he makes extra time in his day by just being really smart. He had a lot of good stuff to say in the five minutes I talked to him.

One choice nugget I didn't get to include in the piece was his memory of the Warped Tour's first stop in Portland at a relatively small club:

You know La Luna? The club? Yeah, Warped Tour played there in 1995. We set up the skateboard ramp in the little lot behind it and we got a keg of beer because we had no where to set up anything else and we sat in that little dressing room behind the stage and that was the whole Warped Tour set up.

See, that's the thing about Warped. It still kind of has that lawless, party vibe even though it's all huge now. When I reviewed it for Willamette Week in 2006, I certainly enjoyed the literal pyramid of free beer backstage. And I remember my old band's friends/mentors Guttermouth impressing us with stories of getting kicked off the tour for trying to blow up H20's tour bus with fireworks and for giving out whiskey shots with t-shirt purchases, even to 10-year-olds.

The cops must be on to this at least a little. Another good quote from Kevin that I didn't get to include was about how at Warped's last location in the Portland area--which required a lot of driving, unlike the festival's current Washington County Fairgrounds home which is on a light rail line--cops seemed to hassle teenage drivers unnecessarily.

We were way out on the road. That was a long way for kids to go. But last year, watching the kids get off the train and go to the Warped Tour? That was pretty cool vs having to drive through the speed traps. I remember we'd send a runner out to get something and it would be like 20 cops writing tickets to kids. It was almost like that skateboarding's a crime thing: driving on the highway's a crime if you're under 25, you know?

Of course, Warped Tour has its sucky corporate side that kind of takes advantage of bands. I've written about that too. But I really wish I was out at the festival today instead of having rehab from knee surgery, mostly because the Portland date now includes a "Legends Stage" with old punk bands like GBH. I guess if the bum knee wasn't enough, the fact that this stage would be the highlight of the fest for me is enough to confirm that as far as punks go, I've crossed into old-timer territory.

Image: Guttermouth still at it on the Warped circuit last year.

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