Vans Warped Tour: 17 July 2010 – Long Island, NY

Fans braved the scorching 95-degree heat and Long Island humidity for the annual Vans Warped Tour, an all day “punk-rock” music festival, stretched out over nine hours and six stages. As usual, California got most of the punk-rock lineup (the Bouncing Souls, the Adolescents, Anti-Flag and the Casualties) while New York bore the brunt of newer, trendy bands, which included a lot of acts with long, ridiculous names, similar sounding music and stacks of multicolored bracelets.

And although the East Coast lineup was riddled with flash in the pan acts, bright spots in the lineup were Warped Tour bands Alkaline Trio, Every Time I Die and Reel Big Fish. A fresh throwback to Warped’s early days of punk rock and skateboarding domination, these veteran bands were stuck with opening sets of the day, playing time slots between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m., leaving the rest of the day open for the fashion-forward pop-rock boys with side swept bangs.

It was only a few years ago when music, not big rock star egos dominated the stage with bands like NOFX, Rise Against and Guttermouth playing with dangerously flamboyant guitar licks, transcending lyrics and explosive vocals. The 2010 lineup was full of bands belonging to a similar pop vein, much to the delight of females in the 12-20-year-old age range. They included The Summer Set, Hey Monday, Pierce the Veil, VersaEmerge, and Parkway Drive among a few others. Kevin Lyman threw in those punk rock and ska randoms (Swingin Utters, Riverboat Gamblers), in an effort to make the lineup complex and true to its punk rock roots, which only consisted of a few primary branches at best.

Stand out sets of the day were: Alkaline Trio, the old-school dark punk rockers full of rock history lessons; Mayday Parade, emo-punks with meaningful lyrics and a set that isn’t defined by an inflated sense of self grandeur; Attack Attack! a sludgy metal band with soaring, melodic vocals; and the All American Rejects for the pure fact that Tyson Ritter’s Willy Wonka type humor, silly off-white suit and mocking of kids with VIP passes provided the most entertainment of the day, aside from the 7-inch Lucite stripper heels donned by a 16-year-old Gossip Girl.

The weird set of the day belonged to Andrew W.K. who still hasn’t evolved from the blood/puke stained white t-shirt and party-anthem music shtick he embodied years ago. Now he’s married to a woman who dances and punches the air on stage in a unitard. Yes, it’s bizarre and disconcerting as Andrew’s past hits are all that carries him into any sort of relevancy today. It was original when no one else was doing it, but now we have 3OH3!

His set included hits like “Party Hard”, which kept the crowd rocking, but after a while hearing the word “party” in every song gets old, very fast, just like Andrew did. The overhyped band of the tour award goes to none other than the Pretty Reckless, fronted by actress Taylor Momsen. Her voice isn’t terrible, but it’s unimpressive and lackluster when compared with other females on the tour like Juliet Simm of Automatic Loveletter, whose band actually performed live more than five times unlike Momsen’s.

Two of the bands to attract the biggest crowds were Canadian punks Sum 41, several years past their hits “Fat Lip” and “In Too Deep”. No longer the bratty band, they still joked around on stage, but enamored fans and onlookers alike.

The other, Never Shout Never, is the MySpace emo-brainchild of 19-year-old Christofer Drew. His innocent smile, childlike waves and ukulele were a far cry from the cursing, spitting, puking, moshing and circle jerking of Warped Tour past. Those were the good old days.