Rancid, Alien Ant Farm and Kool Keith rock the Warped Tour...
In HiFi Buys Amphitheater’s cordoned parking lot stand three main stages, three performance tents, numerous vendor booths, a small street skating course and one towering half pipe. In between stages and mobile stores there are eXtreme athletes, eXtreme music and eXtreme chaos.
It’s the Vans Warped Tour 2001, and sound brutally bombards from every angle as over 30 bands switch schedules daily to perform alternating 30-minute sets. Today’s action began at noon. A couple hours later a crowd gathers for Alien Ant Farm, Papa Roach‘s friends who, after a deep fart conversation and many crowd thanks, perform their novelty hit, a cover of Michael Jackson‘s ‘Smooth Criminal’ to rapturous applause as BMX bikes sail through the air behind them.
On the other side of the parking lot schizophrenic rapper Kool Keith doesn’t get the same warm response, though he and his performing posse run through his personas from the Spankmaster to Dr. Dooom to, surprise, Dr. Octagon to some ‘Sex Styles’. For the encore, Keith and crew shower the audience with water, and within minutes it rains. Hard. “Real punks get wet,” yells some kid. Yeah, well, “real punks” now have mommy’s credit card to pay for expensive designer-ripped gear. My trainers come out of my pocket, so I stay under a tent for 30 minutes as Pennywise rage to my right. The parking lot’s a lake, and many painstakingly erected mohawks have fallen, but not spirits.
Canadian pop-punksters du jour Sum 41 play catchy numbers to an audience of kids who still manage to be older than the band. Moms watch their children in the pit through binoculars, and seem perturbed when prepubescent tits get flashed. Maybe the moms would prefer the all-covers act Me First And The Gimmie Gimmie’s, who tear through songs like ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’ and ‘Rocket Man’ in hideous Hawaiian shirts. There’s a smooth segue from a reggae band to ska-core Less Than Jake, who call for some “skankin’ like a two bit whore” while they pull out sing-a-longs from 1996’s ‘Losing Streak’. Pop-encrusted emo-core Jimmy Eat World, however, play a tight set sans banter of mostly new songs from their major label debut ‘Bleed American’.
Near the end of the deceivingly blistering day out come the wolves, co-headliners Rancid, “100-percent independent label punk rock, so fuck the major labels.” Poor Jimmy Eat World. Rancid‘s Lars Frederiksen, mohawk high as ever, and Tim Armstrong, voice gravelly as ever, travel their entire catalog, reminding of days, long gone, when compelling punk rave-ups still had a chance on radio. Times are warped, indeed.