Date: July 15th 2009
The weather gods were on our sides yesterday at the Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The weather was perfect, hot at times; thankfully clouds came over in the afternoon. This year was the 15th anniversary for the Vans Warped Tour which featured punk veterans Bad Religion, NOFX, Flogging Molly, Less Than Jake, Anti-Flag, and a bunch of other bands that scream.
My day started off driving over to PA from NY where I live. There was some congestion getting to Montage Mountain since there was something going on at the local stadium as well. But after that, parking was fine. The long line getting into Warped Tour is always long, and always a chaotic mess. There should be a separate gate or line for press but for some reason there never is one. Quite silly really, does the tour want the photographers to miss the beginning acts because it’s stuck behind a bunch of kids?
Another change this year for press is the fact we can’t bypass the crowd from stage to stage by going backstage. I can see why they did away with this so that the bands and band crews aren’t bothered. But it was also helpful for photographers to bypass the incredible crowded areas so they cover multiple stages. I guess we can’t get everything we want and just gonna have to deal with it I suppose. While at the press tent, I wrote down the stage times and found out I’d be spending most of the day at the main stage. A few bands I don’t like were on there but all the bands I mentioned above were playing back to back was a nice move on Warped Tour’s part. It felt like an all-star show only it was during the day and the sets were shorter.
The first band to play on the main stage was Devil Wears Prada and all the kids liked these guys. They are a screaming Christian metal band who spit a lot. I can’t stand these bands that spit into the crowd and into the photo pit. It’s disgusting. What’s with all these Christian metal bands on this year’s Warped Tour? We need some Slayer on the Warped Tour to counter attack all this Jesus loving crap. I didn’t really care for these guys, but they were fun to shoot photos of. Next time, I’ll have to bring a poncho to block myself from their onslaught of spit.
After 3 songs, I decided to walk around a bit and see what else was playing on the other stages. I checked out some skaters on the ramp, which including some little kids doing some tricks. I noticed at nearby Skullcandy Stage that Angelo Moore (a.k.a. Dr Madd Vibe) was playing in a band. I had no idea he was on the tour and jumped at the chance of taking some pictures of the Fishbone frontman. He was playing his Theremin and saxophone with the reggae/rock band Ivy League from Salt Lake City. Once kids noticed it was him on stage, the crowd started to form around the stage and were skankin’ it up. The lead singer of the band came on towards the end to sing one of the band’s original songs. I believe Angelo is there for some Dr Madd Vibe’s Experiment where he gets a bunch of people to play with him on stage. Later on, I saw him doing a jig backstage to Flogging Molly and just dancing up a storm for them.
Chiodos were up next and they are another band I’m not a fan of, but all the kiddies are. Bands that wear tight girl jeans, and have them rolled up just don’t do anything for me. The bands care more about their hair than the music itself. I think Chiodos were one of the crowd favorites, as the kids went ape shit for them. Crowd surfing, wall of death; they did all those crowd participation things. I really found nothing special with these guys.
Anti-Flag were up after the Chiodos on the main stage and delivered an electric performance that blew away anything I saw earlier on in the day. They started off with “Turncoat” and were jumping all over the stage. It was hard to photograph them sometimes. They played mostly songs from their previous albums than they did their new one. At least from what I remember, they only played 1 or 2 songs from their new album? During the set, Chris #2 sang most of the songs and interacted with the crowd the most. He kept doing every crowd participation thing in the book, which was starting to get a little tiresome. Just play the fucking songs already and let the kids do what they want in the pit. Some of the song highlights include “Die for the Government,” “Press Corpse,” “1 Trillion Dollar$” and a cover of the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go.”
After that, I decided to skip 30h!3 because I had no desire to shoot photos of them or hear their music. I thought it was a good time to get something to eat and look at some merch. Every year, the prices of food, water and Gatorade go up it seems. I can’t remember if Gatorade was 5 bucks last year, but that’s what it was this year. What does that cost in stores, like 2 bucks? Gimme a break Warped Tour!
Gallows were playing at 3:15 at the Hurley stage so I wanted to check them out because I haven’t heard a lot of their music. Plus, Frank Carter is a photographer’s dream with the facial expression, and always going into the crowd to sing instead of singing on a stage. There aren’t too many musicians and singers that do that the entire set but he does. I was impressed with their live performance, and LOVED shooting those guys. After the first song, Frank went into the crowd to sing as he was getting mauled by kids screaming into the mic. As this is all happening, kids are moshing and hardcore dancin’; which was cracking up Frank. I guess guys from the UK don’t know how the PAHC kids dance. At one point, I was done shooting and sitting in the back with my girlfriend watching the band. Frank tells everyone to do a large circle pit around the soundboard tent, which meant we needed to move ASAP! I got up and took some more pictures of the band and the large circle pit. I thought that was hilarious, but not as hilarious when Frank called out on certain bands for sucking. BrokenCyde and 3oh!3 were just a few bands he named. I love it that he tells it like it is. If you get a chance to Gallows, be sure to do it if you love hardcore. The band was playing a basement show that evening too, talk about dedication!
At this point in the day, the heat was brutal and I was getting burnt on my face and neck. Plus, the crowds were out in force so it was tough to get up to the main stage. I literally took 15 minutes to walk 5 feet. That is why photographers need better access to the stages then simply walking in the crowd. Once I got to the main stage, I was waiting for Underoath to come on and got hit by half empty bottles of Gatorade. I got hit twice in the matter of seconds! The second time, the drink went all over my camera and phone. I don’t know why kids feel the need to throw shit every year but it pisses me off each year. I’m glad my camera and phone survived, but someone can get hurt from that crap. I’ve seen people get hurt from that every year, and kids think its fun. Well kids are retarded, what can I say?
Underoath came on next and I took some pictures of them, but like the earlier bands; I really wasn’t in their Christian metal. I like metal but metal today isn’t what it used to be. One it’s just noise, and two, songs about Jesus don’t appeal to me. I sat in the shade with my girlfriend by the Gatorade stand. That was our spot the entire time, and the Gatorade guy was really nice by letting us chill there. For some reason, Underoath was talking about seeing Harry Potter the entire set. I thought Christians burned those books?
After Underoath, the main stage had a nice stretch of bands for me. Less Than Jake, NOFX, Flogging Molly and Bad Religion. What a lineup eh? Less Than Jake are always fun to shoot photos of, and still one of my favorite bands in general. Surprisingly, the crowds seemed to have gone away from the main stage this point. That was kind of shocking to me. But I guess all those kids wanted to be screamed at the other stages. I have no idea all the songs that Less Than Jake played, but knew I had a blast watching them. My girlfriend and I wanted them to play longer than the 40 minute allotted Warped time. They played songs from their albums Losing Streak, Hello Rockview, Anthem, GNV Fla, and I think one from Borders & Boundaries. I was happy that “Johnny Quest” and “Science of Selling Yourself Short” made it on the guestlist. Those songs are just awesome to hear live!
At one point, Chris called out two Dads in the audience to come and strut their stuff for one of their songs. They were going to have a DILF (Dad I Like to Fuck for the idiots out there) contest. Besides that, JR was shooting shirts out of a cannon, which I almost got while taking a picture of the crowd. Those guys always know how to have a good time on stage. Vinny was looking a tad different last time I saw the band play last summer. He looked like he was auditioning for a Castaway sequel. LTJ were one of the funniest bands that day on the tour. Speaking of another funny band, NOFX were up next.
Whenever I see NOFX on the Warped Tour, they seem to not give a shit about their set and just mess around. Fat Mike usually is drunk/stoned and the rest of the band talks for half the set. While it’s funny, and they had me almost in tears from laughing; I would have liked them to play some more songs. They don’t really act like this at club shows, from what I’ve seen anyway. Fat Mike and the band wasted a minute in the opening song to just sit there and drink. Some of the songs that I could remember that the band played included “Linoleum,” “BOB,” “Quitter,” “Green Corn,” and they finished things off with “Don’t Call Me White.” During the set, they played a joke song and Hefe, Mike and Melvin were telling jokes. Hefe told a Hitler joke, a tampon joke which he messed up; Mike fucked up a joke that was meant for Melvin. I don’t remember what Melvin joked about. All in all, NOFX are always funny live but sometimes they shouldn’t talk as much. It’s a short set after all.
Flogging Molly were the next band on the main stage and they are still one of the most exciting live bands around. Dave King and his wife Bridget came out first, followed by the rest of the band. Whenever Flogging Molly is on stage, and I’m shooting photos of them; I just can’t help but sing along and snap away. Like with every set I saw that day, it was hard to remember all the songs that were being played but I think I remember most of them. I knew the band played “Selfish Man,” “Requiem For A Dying Song,” “Drunken Lullabies,” “Float,” “Tobacco Island” and “Devil’s Dance Floor.” They finished up their excellent with “Seven Deadly Sins.” I was actually quite surprise to not see as many people for them. I really think the Warped Tour kids’ judgment on bands is way off and they really missed an awesome set! I think since it was so late in the day, either the kids were at another stage or they went home. I didn’t mind because I could walk around a little and not have to stand in place for 15 minutes.
I decided I needed a new Flogging Molly shirt, so my lovely girlfriend bought me it for my birthday. The final act of the main stage was Bad Religion. I only saw about half their set since it was getting late and I was really hungry. Bad Religion sounded excellent live, a lot better than last time they played the Warped. They aren’t the most exciting band to take photographs of besides Jay and Greg Hetson. Well that’s not entirely true, I’ve just taken photos of Bad Religion so many times that you end up with a lot of the same poses. As far as songs are concern, the songs I saw them played were: “Do What You Want,” “Stranger Than Fiction,” “New Dark Ages” and “No Control.” I decided to leave after “No Control” because it’s one of my favorites and figured that would be a good point to head out.
The 15th Anniversary of Warped Tour featured a great main stage but something was definitely lacking. I think it was the 2nd main stage, but the stage was removed to save money. Considering this tour is still going on, I’m glad it’s still trekking along. But I wish photographers got better treatment this year so we could get to the stages easier. Other than that, I like this tour a lot better than last year’s.