VANS WARPED TOUR at the Skydome, August 11. Tickets: $29.50-$34.50. Attendance: 13,000. Rating: NNN
this year’s warped tour uncere-moniously jammed fans into the concrete arena of the Skydome, where crowds had to share space with all four stages, a wrestling ring, a skateboard vert pipe, a BMX ramp and a dozen-plus merchandise tents, not to mention way accessible ATM machines. The two smaller stages may have offered talented acts like Jersey, Grade and Catch 22 an opportunity to attract a few more spectators, but they also ended up creating a wall of noise that even a retreat to the bleacher seats couldn’t dim.
Add a retractable roof that just wouldn’t open and seven hours of stale, sweat-filled, smokey air and you’ve got yourself a domed disaster despite a kicking festival lineup.
This year, punkers of all stripes had something to cheer about, from the beer-swillin’ blue-collar prose of the Dropkick Murphys and inspired goth-punks the Misfits, to AFI, who scissor-kicked their way through 10 songs in 30 minutes, to the grotesquely amusing Vandals, who won in the lewd and nude category when guitarist Warren Fitzgerald jumped onto a wall of speakers during I’ve Got An Ape Drape and pulled his shorts up above his shoulders to create an all-too-revealing thong.
But by far the biggest impression was created by southern California’s Rancid, the band that helped revive bullet belts and full-flared mohawks.
Taking the stage at 3:30 pm, the boys stomped, banged and bellowed their way through a 30-minute set of such classics as Roots Radicals, Maxwell Murder and Black And Blue. By the time they finished with their ska hit Ruby Soho, they’d whipped the entire cone-spiked, manic-panic-dyed crowd into such a frothing frenzy that a thousand voices were chanting in unison while moshing in a pit that stretched at least 20 feet back from the stage.
Other cool acts included Canada’s Sum 41, hiphop rep and veteran MC Kool Keith, Descendants-nurtured group the Ataris and West Coast political punkers Pennywise, whose Bro-Hymn anthem and Fuck Authority chant inspired enough one-armed salutes and soul-stomping praise to vibrate even those cheap plastic bleacher seats.