Warped Tour 2003 on Randall's Island had free parking and at one point I found a quarter on the ground waiting in line for the beer garden. It wasn't just the highest highs, though. These moments were tapered with mockery by megaphone guy at the Epitaph tent in front of a queue of
teen-punks, the Philly cheesesteaks and the devastating lack of Andrew W.K. in the day's lineup.
Despite the Epitaph guy not understanding that sometimes saving a girl's purse from the rain is more important than a chance to win the Transplants' car, the stalwart punk label more than made up for it with their solid representation at the show. The Dropkick Murphy's roused the crowd into (mostly) non-intoxicated revelry. Basically it was a couple thousand kids staging a St. Patrick's Day parade inside a pub. Flags, chants, and that dance thing with the pushing into each other, and the fun was only intensified by the drizzle and overcast sky.
Rancid played a solid 30-minute set of hits with the only slight distraction of Lars' floppy mohawk and that rap guy from the Transplants. Then there were some other old bands - and some young bands. And the All American Rejects were even cuter live than in the promo shots. They didn't really retain the crowd's interest through the whole set, but it was only because their hair lost some of its collective lustre in the humidity and saying, "this one goes out to all the c*cksuckers" just made everyone in the crowd a little uncomfortable.
Every year there's one band that saves it - last year it was Vaux. This year it was S.T.U.N. - which stands for something. They looked ragged, hungry, slightly crazed and like they had no idea what Drive Thru Records is. Hailing from the rabid metropolis of Los Angeles, they sliced Stranglers with Sham 69 while still being 600 times more original than anyone else that played. Christiane, the singer, made desperation and pseudo political diatribes absolutely unnerving and compelling. It was the only set of the day where the audience raised their fists without provocation and the threat the singer would jump from the roof of the stage a real possibility. S.T.U.N. broke drums, made out with each other, drew blood, swung from the rafters, stumbled, screamed and absolutely did not call it in. And this was the second to last show of the whole tour. They made everyone look completely milquetoast and, frankly, not very punk rock.
We were going to stick around for Taking Back Sunday, but I listened to the album in the morning getting ready, and I had to get back to Manhattan before I was forced to use the port-a-potties.
Photo By Danny Wirtz (Kinetic Records)
Source: Anne Brazeal (Drill Team Media)