The Eleventh Annual Vans Warped Tour Is Near

by: Tracy Ung

It’s a sweaty Wednesday afternoon in Hollywood. At its best, traffic is slow and tedious along Sunset Boulevard. After maneuvering down the steep hill and coming to a stop aside the valet stand at the House of Blues Sunset, I pull up next to a black Cadillac Escalade and behind a massive black truck—both extremely shiny and extensively adorned with chrome. It’s not a surprise that myself and my Acura are not receiving any attention.

But it’s OK, I needed time to pull tens of pounds of camera out of my trunk anyway.

As I linger by my car, waiting to hand over the keys and make my way up to the Parish Room upstairs in the House of Blues, I observe that I am in good valet-waiting company. Lounging on the back of the black truck are two guys whose tattoos arguably cover a greater surface area than the clothing that they are wearing—hat, socks and shoes included.

But what do you expect? Two guys in suits discussing the inherently doomed nature of the stock market?

After all on this stifling hot afternoon, much like similar afternoons of the previous eleven years, members of the media will gather as the Vans Warped Tour discusses what the summer has in store for punk-rock and extreme-sport enthusiasts alike.

In fact, the situation at valet embodies the Warped Tour: The tattooed individuals are not merely your average run-of-the-mill inked fellas. The inked individuals conversing are Travis Barker, drummer of Blink-182 and The Transplants, and Rick Thorn, a man who has made a living riding BMX bikes in unsafe scenarios.

As they deposit their keys in the hand of the valet guy, they turn and head for the back entrance into the House of Blues.

“Hi,” Barker said as he passed, with his blue eyes just as bright and vibrant as the colored ink on his arms ... and neck and sides, come to think of it.

“Hey, how’s it going?” Thorn cheerfully exclaimed as he trekked behind at Barker’s heels.

Who knew that punk-rock was so damn friendly?

Upstairs in the Parish Room, a crowd of camera equipment, publicists and a myriad of tattoos and piercings all contained in a room whose walls appear to be covered with a giant fuschia and peacock blue quilt could only mean one thing—the Vans Warped Tour is officially on approach.

May 11 coincidentally marked the official press conference and kick off for the 11th annual Vans Warped Tour, a tour also known for its “Punk Rock Summer Camp” vibe where kids can enjoy a full day of music while their parents patiently pass the day with air conditioning and DVDs in “Reverse Day Care.”

The press conference officially began with a few words and announcements from Kevin Lyman, the founder of the Warped Tour, who is perpetually in awe that the tour that started out playing for crowds of maybe 800 people now carries a crew of at least 800 people.

“Hot, sweaty pandemonium,” the members of Matchbook Romance unanimously agreed regarding their expectations of this year’s Warped Tour.

Tony Lovato of Mest expects to be the only happy band on Warped Tour this year. Why, you ask?

“We’re the only band who is not wearing tight pants,” Lovato said. “So our nuts will actually have room to breathe.”

As the first act of the Kick-Off Show immediately following the press conference, the Street Drum Corps found the beat in a variety of ordinary household and industrial products—from fire extinguishers to buckets and trash cans to gardening hoes. The Street Drum Corps consists of drummer Bobby Alt of S.T.U.N, his brother drummer Adam Alt of Circus Minor and drummer Frank Zummo of The Start.

In addition to the Street Drum Corps, there were performances by Near Miss, Bedouin Soundclash and Gogol Bordello.

Performing in the direct support position was The Starting Line, whose sophomore album “Based On a True Story” just hit stores last week.

“Everybody keeps talking about the sophomore slump, but I don’t really understand it because you have so much time to realize the mistakes that you made on your first record and that’s the kind of thing that you want to stay away from and we all had time to reflect on that,” said Startling Line vocalist/bassist Ken Vasoli.

“I think it was kind of an uphill battle to make this record,” said Starting Line guitarist Matt Watts. “We just wanted to make a record that we were proud of and we didn’t care what it would do as far as sales go.”

The Transplants were scheduled to perform as the special guest headliner for the evening’s show. Unfortunately it was announced in the conference that The Transplants would not be performing. Bassist Matt Freeman, who also plays bass for Rancid, has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer. He is currently undergoing aggressive treatment and surgery. According to his bandmates, Freeman is lucky because they have been able to diagnose and treat his illness during the early stages.

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