If punk fans leap at any excuse to be pissed off, then the Boston stop on the 15th annual Warped Tour was a total godsend. The multitudes of Warpedgoers converging on the Comcast Center last Tuesday start the morning off by sitting in two-hour traffic jams on 495, only to spend the rest of the day wading through muddy lawns and getting their mascara hosed off by torrential downpours -- and they've each paid $35 for the privilege.
Still, while the rain was relentless, so were the fans; they weren't sitting this sold-out show out, no matter how bitchy Mother Nature got. The tangle of soaking-wet black-and-neon-clad teens, tweens, and twenty-somethings (trailed by the occasional hoodie-and-goodie-bag-carrying pack-mule/chaperone) spent the next eight hours anxiously shoving their way through the herd to catch a glimpse of their favorite bands on this 70-act tour.
Over at the Skullcandy Stage, hometown heroes Therefore I Am keep spirits up with a particularly energetic set and plenty of Bay State boosterism between songs. "I'm not just saying this cuz I'm from here, but in Massachusetts, we've got something fucking awesome going on," shouted vocalist Alex Correia. "This rain doesn't scare you guys, right? We live in this shit year-round. All these people from California, complaining -- got to put some hair on your chests!" Cue a frenzy of cheers and moshing.
Pop-punk favorites A Day to Remember drew a ridiculously enormous audience, with kids fist-pumping and head-banging along throughout the entire set. Bayside and Dance Gavin Dance brought their A game, too, playing such crowd pleasers as "Devotion and Desire" and "NASA" to a throng of faithful fans screaming every lyric back at them.
Then came the Millionaires -- a scantily clad, all-female sugarpop/electronica trio from LA -- who entertained their hyper crowd with "Just Got Paid, Let's Get Laid." Considering their bratty lyrics ("Can you believe I get paid to shake my ass on stage/We're getting drunk every day, you're makin' minimum wage/We live the life you wish, bitch, don't say shit/No talent, just lucky, but they still wanna fuck me"), the group's looking for trouble. And they got it -- starting with Senses Fail's mouthy lead singer, Buddy Nielsen.
"There's this new band that doesn't like me because I made fun of his girlfriend, who's in the Millionaires," Nielsen announced, his namedrop triggering an avalanche of boos. He added, with a sly smile, "I have no beef with anyone. I just wish some bands would break up and get the fuck away from me!"
The backbiting didn't stop there -- a lot of bands made time to diss such cred-challenged tourmates as the easy-to-hate-on Albuquerque scrunk outfit brokeNCYDE and poppy MTV darlings 3OH!3.
Frank Carter, the heavily tattooed singer for up-and-coming British band Gallows, had the choicest words for these newcomers, spewing swears and claiming they're not "real bands." But Gallows were good for more than just trash talk: From the middle of a 50-foot-wide gap in front of the Hurley Stage, Carter instructs the crowd to form "the biggest fucking circle pit [he's] ever seen" and goads audience members into tackling each other from a running start (a pit maneuver known as the Wall of Death). It's a hell of a show -- probably the best all day.
David McWane from Big D and the Kids Table, meanwhile, managed to keep a cheery attitude, saying "I really applaud anyone who has a new idea and goes for it." His positivity may come as no surprise -- local ska powerhouse Big D has always known how to amp up a crowd. When they launched into their full-on theatrical performance (complete with trombone, trumpet, sax, and four back-up singers in matching cherry-print dresses), it was hard to say who was having more fun: the grinning band or their thrilled fans, who made the floor shake with their bouncing and bopping along.
As if they weren't already exhausted enough from a day of (unsuccessfully) dodging raindrops and thrashing in mosh pits, swarms of kids flocked to the Main Stage to see what nonsense Warped Tour vets NOFX had in store for them. Bassist/lead singer Fat Mike managed to coax a few laughs out of the audience with his ramblings. Before playing the song "Massachusetts" -- which, he emphasized, NOFX has never done live before -- Fat Mike said, "I was born in Massachusetts, you know. I went out and bought a Massachusetts flag today!" He pointed to the gay-pride flag attached to his mic stand. Throughout their show, bubbles and blown-up condoms sailed through the air, as did the pungent aroma of weed.
Although this year's Warped Tour seemed to have way more beefing than in years past, there were plenty of kids trying to keep the peace: As the day was winding down, about 20 boys and girls lined up to offer free (albeit damp) hugs to any passersby who needed a pick-me-up before heading over to the Main Stage for one last romp, with show-enders 3OH!3 and Hit the Lights.
Punk may reign supreme on this tour, but a little feel-good pop under a finally rain-free sky really seemed to hit the spot -- at least for the kids who stuck it out to the very end (at this point, most folks were making a break for the exit, hoping to beat the traffic). Everyone left exhausted and sore -- and Warped fans wouldn't want it any other way.