“The Warped Tour is Dying… Does Anybody Even Care???!??!!?”

* “I was lying there dying and nobody was even interested. I wasn’t even interested.”
– Charles Bukowski


Recently via Facebook feed I got this dude on status update givin’ us the ol’ “Kid A is the best album of the year 2000… Prove me wrong.” It’s like whoa, way to pick the underdog there! Anyway, something that jumped out at me about all its competitors from that year that people were listing (Stankonia, White Pony, The Moon and Antarctica, Marshall Mathers LP) was that everything was really conceptual and nothing was really epochal. That is to say, there was no real 2000 MUSIC (fitting with how in the ’90s all Conan O’Brien’s jokes about “the year 2000” were about everything being really weird and unnecessarily futuristic and stuff). “1987,” then, on the other hand is sure to conjure inner sound bites of Michael Jackson, “1992” grunge and “1996” gangsta rap. And yes, “1999” nu metal. Thanks for reminding me.
So it’s ironic that 2000 was arguably the absolute crux of the Warped Tour’s popularity, a summer said tour shared with Tinley Park, Illinois’ Q101 Jamboree proviso of your Goldfinger, of your Suicide Machines and of your Long Beach Dub All Stars and of your Mighty Mighty Bosstones. It doesn’t get much more zeitgeist-borne than that, almost as if, in this backdrop of assumed, faux-futurism, there was a considerable recoil among the masses to take things back to their basics and celebrate individuality, which was supposed to be what punk rock was all about from the start, the idea that anybody, education or no, can pick up a guitar and express themselves. Almost as a separate, unrelated development, I had this mix tape glued to my player that summer that had Goldfinger’s “Anxiety” and the Sui’s “No Face,” the latter of which I also heard a dude skating to outside our middle school around then.
Obviously, it’s crazy and unexpected that the Warped Tour has even persevered for these 18 summers after that, its origination date of 1995 making it 24 years in total (Wikipedia already refers to the tour as something that existed in the past, per the general reports that the ’18 installment is to be its last incarnation, at least indefinitely). Ozzfest, by comparison, which started in ’96, has taken about seven or so summers off since in its irregular transpiration, now though currently active indefinitely once again in 2018. Just looking at the Warped Tour lineup from 2009, a year I chose because even at the single-venue weekend Lollapalooza I went to at Chicago’s Union Park, punk rock was represented pretty decently there, with LA’s No Age (whom I actually consider noise rock but are often dubbed punk in certain articles) and Chicago’s own Rise Against each unleashing pretty high-profile, widely-viewed sets, I saw an incredible litany of bands listed on the festival’s page, from time-honored legends like Bad Religion and NOFX to just reams and reams of small-fry bands, such as Every Avenue which I thought maybe was named after Rancid’s track “Alleyways & Avenues.” In light of this, it almost seems the Warped Tour’s cessation is going to hurt the little guys more than the big guys.
Given that punk rock is often music indicative of a rejection of an overall sociological scheme (you’ll notice the groundswell of political albums emanating in response to George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq a la Bad Religion’s The Empire Strikes First, Green Day’s American Idiot, The Suicide Machine’s War Profiteering is Killing Us All and Anti-Flag’s The Terror State in addition to many more I’m sure), you’d think that 2018 would provide the ideal political climate for its proliferation. And it’s not that we’re without moshers and crowd-divers at all in this time, thanks in large part of a lot of stuff coming out of Chicago like Negative Scanner and definitely Copenhagen’s Iceage. But even one listen to Iceage’s new album and you notice that, slowly but surely, their musical techniques are becoming slower and more complex and deliberate — a phenomenon correspondent with the very act of aging, itself. And punk rock always was a platform to get on and act like a little brat kid, let’s admit (right down to the short songs catering to the entirely incompetent attention span). And even with all the racism and sociological inequality happening under the Trump admin., it seems that it’s equally a huge time for women in rock, or in any realm of expression, and Negative Scanner’s Rebecca Valeriano-Ramos pens these metaphoric and existential lyrics about being a woman in Chicago which undoubtedly warrant a close listen, something debilitated in the rowdy concert setting of a mosh pit (especially for women, obviously). I think in light of this, we can see the culmination of the Warped Tour not as the death of punk rock but as its evolution, and maybe we’ll even see it revamped as a single-weekend event like Lollapalooza in some city… thinkin’ LA [1], Denver or Dallas? And oh… look at that… Riot Fest has Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly and Bad Religion at it this year. Looks like we’re rockin’ on, now aren’t we?
[1] As of this year So Cal plays host to the ska festival Back to the Beach.



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