A Warped Tour Rant

I nearly puked on my shoes when I saw this year's Warped Tour lineup. I realized it was getting lamer as the years went on, as the lineups got cheesier and more ecclectic, the crowds got younger and trendier, the vendors got more corporate and the tickets went from $10 to $40. But this year was the real slap in the face.

Perhaps we should rename the festival entirely. EMO-FEST. That will surely attract more allowance-wielding, persona-wearing yuppies, which is what our festival leaders really want in the end, isn't it?

Ok, I guess I should start by clarifying that I find nothing wrong with gorgeous guys donning metrosexual euroshag cuts and spiky belts wrapped around tight jeans. That much I'll admit... the style is hot. And yes, admittedly, I was rocking out to The Deftones, Far, and The Used, which were Emo before it even became a common word, let alone a trend. I admire versatility in music and crave quiet vocal lulls followed by a thunderous clash of drums and a dense blend of groovy guitar riffs.

HOWEVER. You know and I know that this Emo thing has gotten out of control. Suddenly it becomes a new persona to put on as easily as rows of waxy black eyeliner and stick-on star tattoos. It's a convenient excuse to remain trapped in a Poor-Me Syndrome, wearing pink shirts and whining about the girl that got away, unable to evolve. Locker-side Teenagers are overheard melodramatically declaring, "Oh my God, I am, like, SO EMO today." Online journal entries become, "I'm going to go in my room and write a song on my guitar and cry my emo heart out". Newsflash: You're not special... EVERYONE HAS EMOTIONS! It's simply not constructive to wallow around, letting feelings ooze out of your pores like a nervous sweat.


The harder side appeals to me. My opponents may try to persuade me towards "Screamo", making claim that it's about getting OVER past relationships and is in no way "whiney" or "lame" at all. For all intensive purposes, I'm not in the mood to argue with you about Emo vs. Screamo at the moment. We'll save that for another day.

Generally, Emo music itself has begun the erosion process, getting softer and softer... pretty soon it'll be just one shard off Backstreet Boys pop. If I wanted a cheesy love song, I'd listen to R&B. At one point, Emo was so closely linked to Punk that many people couldn't even tell the difference. I find that this horrifically careless misnomer still haunts the punk rock scene as bands like Billy Talent and My Chemical Romance continue to blur the lines.

That brings us to Warped Tour. 99% of the bands on the bill this year are pure EMO: All-American Rejects, Matchbook Romance and Boys Night Out, to name a few. Next year can we expect to see Thursday, Story of the Year and Dashboard Confessional added to the bill as well? Observe how all the staples of Warped Tour - Bad Religion, Rancid, Pennywise, Antiflag, NOFX - have all gone running for the hills. Veterans Strungout, The Offspring and Dropkick Murphys thought they'd stick around, collect the fat paycheck and continue to hump the American Dream.

Despite the bitter taste in my mouth, I wonder if there ever was a point to having a big traveling punkfest. Perhaps it was all just an idealistic dream that quickly turned against itself the way a hungry dog turns on its master. I mean, isn't it ANTI-Punk to snag corporate sponsors and sell-out to thousands? Can a punk band ever remain true to itself after being thrust into the National spotlight? Look at how quickly NOFX went from sarcastic, dirty old punks to hometown heroes and the next best thing since Greenday. Lost in the moshpit, I found myself surrounded by twelve-year-olds screaming all the lyrics. Holy Hell, you children weren't even ALIVE when Fat Mike and Eric Melvin first got together! I suppose legendary bands like The Sex Pistols and The Ramones were popular in their day... but there was something so vile, disgusting and radical about them that it prevented an abrupt shift into the mainstream. Most God-fearing people wanted nothing to do with this anarchic revolution of filth and fury. Let's face it. Many so-called punk bands have lost their edge and so has Warped Tour.

Since '99, I had been so psyched that all my favourite punk bands would be in my hometown rocking out in the hot summer sun for less than the price of a CD. I wish this bliss could be recaptured somehow - if even in a local, non-touring punk festival. The Wasted Festival in San Bernadino, California received rave reviews, hosting legends like The Exploited, Agent Orange and the UK Subs. Toronto even had a little indie punk fest called "Punk & Disorderly", as part of the NXNE in 2003. Unfortunately, I missed the boat for these events but they're options surely worth exploring. Usually I have more solutions onhand, but I guess all this talk about Emo has me feeling a little down. So for now I'll return to Nihilism and shed a few emo tears over the bloated carcass that is Warped Tour.

Sidenote: Gobble up THIS Irony. There will be a tent at Warped Tour this year, featuring shirts that read, "Don't Get Emo".

Photos courtesy of hottopic.com and myspace.com/warpedtour

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