Warped Speed Ahead

It’s an event where mohawks and spikes are commonplace, an event where slamming someone on the ground is called moshing and an event where generations of punk rock artists converge for a fun-filled day of blasting music, the blazing sun and occasional three dollar bottled water showers.

This enchanted event is known as the Van’s Warped Tour, and it made the second yearly stop at the Sun Dome on August 4. For eight years now, the nationwide tour has spread the alluring sounds of breakthrough pop artists such as Blink 182, Papa Roach, No Doubt, Eminem, 311, Alien Ant Farm, and Green Day along with Warped tour staples such as NOFX, Lagwagon, Guttermouth, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Flogging Molly. Throughout the years, the Warped Tour has managed to stay true to its punk beginnings while satisfying the pop culture palate at the same time.

This year, the lines began forming at the Sun Dome’s box office as early as 9 a.m. Despite the scorching heat, two lines formed the width of the Sun Dome.

The doors opened at 11 a.m. and the lines began moving swiftly. Once the concert-goers survived the bag checks and ticket-ripping rituals, they were bombarded by soliciting. Fortunately, most Warped soliciting is free. Promoters handed out free CDs, stickers, posters and flyers stating their band’s showtime and stage.

The first hundred or so that entered could benefit from the promotion the most by visiting the many booths and receiving their limited supply of promotional material. Various record labels including Epitaph, Spitfire, Kung Fu, Lameass, Fearless, and Lookout! had tents set up and were there to support their artists, sell some records and get out their name.

With the concert-goers browsing the record label booths, glancing through the Bob Marley memorabilia tents, comparing the overpriced concession stand goodies and witnessing mountain bike demonstrations, the Warped Tour became more than an outdoor concert and much like a carnival.

“To be honest, I didn’t eat anything except for a slushie,” said 18-year-old Kevin Schroeder of his day at the Warped Tour. “It was the most expensive colored ice I’ve ever had.”

Despite the four dollar slushies, one could jam on an Ernie Ball Musicman guitar, chug YooHoo and watch the disturbing antics of the Skatepark of Tampa all within the same hour and all for free.

The Skatepark of Tampa has riled up the Warped Tour crowd for years at their “hospitality booth” with super-soakers, free Corn Nuts, and their powers of persuasion.

“It all started with the bullhorns and kind of picking people out of the crowd that we could make fun of, then have them come up and spin our wheel and then spray them with super soakers,” said Ryan Clements, who was working at the Skatepark of Tampa booth. “I mean, honestly, was there another booth that was as entertaining as ours?”

The vibe surrounding the Skatepark of Tampa tent was equivalent to the enthusiasm of audiences throughout the day. Even though the heat was raging, the mosh pits were active and concert security was on their toes.

“The moshing does get crazy, but it’s all good,” 14-year-old Mike Havener, said. Havener was among the lucky and dedicated concert-goers able to reach the front row.

“You get pushed up front a lot,” he said.

Mike said he was there to see Thursday and The Starting Line. Like many Warped attendees, he had his favorites who he had paid to see. But with Warped Tour’s eight stages and nearly 80 artists playing, there was bound to be confusion.

Fortunately this crowd-friendly tour passed out writing materials and displayed a show schedule to lessen the confusion. The only downside: if you wanted to see both Finch and Something Corporate perform, tough luck, they both were playing at 3:30.

“I wait all year long for Warped tour,” Lindsay Annan, 19, said. “There is no other place you can go where you can watch so many amazing bands play for so cheap. But I was disappointed that I missed Thursday. They are so awesome.”

Compared to other top-rated concerts, the Warped Tour has always had a relaxed vibe. The merch booths and crowd became an extended backstage. Many bands were at their record booths chatting with fans before and after their performance. It was also not uncommon for one to have heard someone proclaim, “Hey that s the guitarist from (fill in random band name).”

“After Good Charolette’s set, I saw them and the guys from MxPx just wander into the crowd,” Jared Tonley, 20, said.Band members and athletes frequently made their way backstage, through the crowd and backstage again on golf carts and mini-mopeds.

After surviving a day filled with giving in to the six dollar chicken pitas, attempting to dodge the sun’s blistering rays and striving to avoid drunken brawls (or get into them), most of the Warped attendees went home with sunburns and smiles. Once Hot Water Music played their last note, many concert goers left USF soil with punk rock blasting their stereos, free demos in their backseat and memories of the opportunity to see many of their favorite bands in one splendid, humid day.
Contact Andrea Papadopoulos at oracleofflimits@yahoo.com