The Vans Warped Tour comes through Boise every year in early- to mid-July. My oldest son's birthday is at the end of June and for years I bought him two tickets to the tour as a gift. He's an adult now and with the responsibilities of rent and a car payment, the desire for concert tickets has given way to the need for a present that comes in $20 denominations. But, I have a 15-year-old nephew who has just recently discovered that his favorite band (Motion City Soundtrack) will be at the tour's July 14 stop at the Idaho Center and would love the opportunity to see them, so it looks like I may have to resurrect my ticket-buying tradition.
When it first started in 1994, the purpose of the Warped Tour was to marry two things its creator Kevin Lyman loved: skateboarding and music. It started as a relatively small event that, twelve years later has become as highly anticipated each summer as Ozzfest or Lollapalooza. This year, the lineup includes the expected punk-ska-metal-emo brigade but includes some interesting surprises: AFI (who just released Decemberunderground earlier this year) and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (who put out an album entitled, Naked, in 2004 and Sinner in June of this year) will both be performing.
Each year, the tour grows in scope and size. To accommodate all of the bands scheduled to play, the tour offers a number of stages with bands playing concurrently. For example, the Hurley Stage--one of the larger stages--will host From First To Last, Every Time I Die, Silverstein, The Academy Is..., Armor For Sleep, Hellogoodbye, Zox, Greeley Estates, The Early November, 18 Visions, Billy Talent and more. The Hot Topic/Kevin Says Stage is a place where unknowns can be seen by thousands and always features independent bands. The Ernie Ball Stage is a crowd favorite because a local band or two is always slated to play. This year's hometown heroes are Bank,who will be sharing the stage with Driven Under, Death In December, Silica, Adair, The Smashup, Cartel, We Are the Fury, Mute Math, A Change of Pace, Forgive Durden, Sherwood and The Sunstreak. It is on stages like these that many a band has forged a path to success.
Both up and coming and established musicians have carved out a spot on the tour, which has become a launching pad to success for some of them and a repeated stop for others who'd found fame in large part because of the tour. In the past, the tour has included acts like Blink-182, Sublime, Beck, 311, NOFX (who's back on the bill this year) and No Doubt. The tour is also a showcase for skateboarders with demonstrations taking place all day during the shows. Geared toward teens and 20-somethings, each stop on the tour promises a day of sun, skateboards and all the music their not-quite-mature ears can handle and for no more than the cost of a couple of hours of babysitting or mowing lawns. And then there's the schwag.
Every year the tour is sponsored by some major corporations. From Sony to Adidas to Yoo-hoo, there are hundreds of booths with all kinds of freebies. Kids leave the show with "goodie bags" full of stickers, hats, T-shirts and anything else a company can emblazon its name and logo on. Though these kids are inundated by this marketing, it is because of the sponsors that ticket prices have stayed so low over the years (a ticket is less than $30). But in recent years, the tour has had to deal with unscrupulous bands (gasp!) trying to take advantage of tour sponsors by taking advantage of the complicated, sometimes changing lineups. In December of 2005, MTV news reported that founder Kevin Lyman was distressed to hear reports of bands claiming to have been signed for the 2006 tour and hitting up some of the tour's sponsors for money and items.
"Basically I know all these people who work at these companies, because I deal with them on a face-to-face basis so they've come to me and said, 'Hey, so-and-so band is telling us they're on Warped, and they want some video games or some energy drinks.' And then I've gone to the bands and basically told them to knock it off. Everybody knows that Warped has cheap tickets, and that's because we rely on corporate sponsors. And when bands try to rip those sponsors off, it not only confuses the marketplace, but it can only make the price of tickets go up," Lyman said.
When you get to the tour, pick up a copy of the Warped Tour Sampler (check out an online-exclusive review at www.boiseweekly.com). For a little more inclusive copy of the tour's music, you can purchase a copy of the Vans Warped Tour '06 2006 Tour Compilation CD. It opens with "The End" by Saves the Day and includes "Laura" by Flogging Molly, "Bury Me" by Helmet, "Not a Crime" by Gogol Bordello, "The Words 'Best Friend' Become Redefined" by CHIODOS (who are, by the way, playing at the Venue on July 17), "When You're Around" by Motion City Soundtrack, "Professional" by Scotch Greens (who are playing the Bouquet on July 17), "Rude Boys Don't Cry" by Bedouin Soundclash, "Five" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, "No Future" by Anti-Flag, and plenty more. There are over 50 bands on this two-disc set making it a great souvenir of the show.
The lineup for this year's tour promises to be a good one, so if I can convince a certain 15-year-old that hanging out with his old Auntie isn't the worst thing in the world (and if that fails, I'll just bribe him with a ticket), I'll be out there in the hot July sun watching skate demonstrations, listening to music and getting a clear understanding of what my son looked forward to every birthday.
July 14, noon, $27, Idaho Center Amphitheater (rain or shine), 16200 Idaho Center Blvd., Nampa. Tickets available at www.ICTickets.com, www.ticketweb.com or by calling 442-3232. The complete lineup of bands is available at www.warpedtour.com and in this issue of Boise Weekly.
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