'New Wave,' Against Me! There's a reason this song is the title track and lead…
- Posted on Jul 15th 2011 4:30PM by Jenny Charlesworth
hoto by Noel Vasquez, Getty Images
Celebrating its 17th year with a lineup that runs the gamut from Against Me! and Madina Lake to Simple Plan and Paramore, Warped Tour is clearly no worse for wear. Though it's a well-oiled music extravaganza, the fest still feels remarkably homegrown. Not even the corporate signage -- given a decidedly punk makeover (KIA motors, for example, advertises covertly at the "KIA Kevin Says..." stage) -- plastered around the festival grounds disrupts this vibe.
Founder Kevin Lyman deserves the credit for this. Backstage, you'll find the California native in the thick of things, whether he's fielding concerns about catering or mulling over a headliner for next year's lineup. Lyman could have easily handed over the reins once the fest was up and running and cashed in on ticket sales poolside in sunny Passadena, the fact that he hasn't, speaks volumes to the success of Warped Tour, which presently winds its way through North America and has traveled overseas in years past.
"On this one, I won't step back," Lyman tells Spinner onsite at the Vegas tour stop. "This one [project] keeps my heart and if your heart's happy then you're happy."
Warped Tour has gained the rep as a Never-Never Land of sorts, where 15-year-olds can escape their protective parents and go wild to sounds of punk rock (the foundation of the fest) or hardcore and hybrid hip-hop (some of the sound of Warped Tour as of late). And while that impression isn't that far from the mark (whether they're test-driving guitars at the Guitar Center booth or gawking at the skateboarders in the half-pipe, high-schoolers reign supreme), Lyman makes sure to pull from his elder statesmen roster to keep the fest enticing to more than just the kiddies.
"They do make a real effort to bring out bands that are those kind of heritage acts," Against Me! frontman Tom Gabel tells Spinner shortly before taking the stage in Vegas. "To Warped Tour's credit, one of the things it does really well, is they have the younger bands that are really geared to the younger audiences, but at the same time, they do have older bands."
The fact that flagship Warped Tour acts like NOFX, Bad Religion and Pennywise are largely absent from the 2011 lineup may be troubling to those looking to recreate their early experiences moshing to classic punk anthems as kids in checkered Vans crowd-surf over head. But the new crop of patrons flooding the festival gates don't seem to have any complaints. No longer the punk rock party it once was, the sounds of Warped Tour have evolved. The spirit, however, which was always the festival's selling point, remains the same. And as long as it does, the juggernaut will keep chugging along.
"It's a tour that really allows you to be close to your fans," Simple Plan frontman Pierre Charles Bouvie tells Spinner after his bands set. "With the signings, you can really get in there -- if a fan really wants to meet a band and goes to Warped Tour, they'll probably meet them.
"There are no rock stars here, it's very low-key; it's not a commercial, big pop tour, it's dirty rock tour."
Van's Warped Tour runs through Aug.14. You can check out dates and lineup info here.