Vans Warped Tour likes to bill itself as "the tour that won't die," and there's something to be said for that claim. Now in its 11th summer of bringing punk rock to the scalding arena parking lots of America, this traveling circus seems strangely immune to industry slumps and inevitable shifts in musical tastes.
The answer probably has to do with the tour's careful targeting of a specific audience (punk, in its various manifestations) and - more importantly - its egalitarian sensibility. There are headliners to be sure, but every band gets a mere 30 minutes onstage, regardless of their record sales. Also, the willingness of performers to play for relatively nominal fees allows the tour to deliver more than 75 bands on nine stages for a ticket price of about $30.
You know that this tour's organizers can't take themselves (or their profit margins) too seriously in light of the fact that they responded to an unsanctioned guerrilla gig last year from electro-punk feminists Shira Girl by giving the group its own namesake stage (San Antonio's own Girls In a Coma were scheduled to play this stage at early Vans Warped stops in Kansas City and Dallas.). The Shira Girl Stage vies for attention on the 2005 tour with the likes of the Smart Punk Stage and Code Of Tha Cutz. As always, with saturated amplifiers bleeding from one stage to the next, the entire event becomes a kind of Fuse-nation, extreme sport for the ears.
The lineup varies slightly from stop to stop, but the Sunday, June 26 show at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater will feature My Chemical Romance, All-American Rejects, Dropkick Murphys, MxPx, the Offspring, Transplants, Avenged Sevenfold, Matchbook Romance, and Chicago up-and-comers Fall Out Boy, among others. Call 657-8300 for ticket info.
Compiled by Gilbert Garcia
Bone daddies: When people refer to a band as "seminal," it's usually a polite way of saying that music listeners didn't really appreciate them in their own time. That certainly applies to LA's Fishbone, a wildly adventurous collective that melded ska, punk, R&B, metal and new-wave pop, sometimes within the first few bars of a single song.
At its best - the 1985 signature skank "Party At Ground Zero," a monstrous remake of Curtis Mayfield's "Freddie's Dead," and the Sly Stone-inspired funk-psychedelia of "Everyday Sunshine," this group hit that Parliament/Funkadelic spot where absurdity and profundity not only meet, they become interchangeable.
Everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to No Doubt has sung their praises over the years, but they could never fully break out of MTV's 120 Minutes ghetto of cultdom. Partly, this is because the studio never really did Fishbone justice. On record, they often sounded overcooked and fussy, but on stage, the madness of their method made perfect, anarchic sense. With that in mind, a longer-in-the-tooth Fishbone will do what they do best when they take the stage at Jack's Patio Bar & Grill on Saturday, June 25, with Dog Men Poets.