By Russ Dyck
My mission was to enter deep into punk lifestyle, to grasp the true punk culture that has snuck in and taken a firm hold in popular culture, while courting unpopularity. My friends, I was sent to Race City Speedway on July 2 with a camera and a backstage pass, told to return with outrageous stories of physical violence and pictures of topless girls. Having failed at both tasks, here’s what I did at the Vans Warped Tour.
11:05 – I arrive at Race City Speedway a little early this year since traffic last year was atrociously Byzantine (I found a thesaurus in my car during the hail storm). Spot dark clouds over Calgary and hope they will change their path.
11:47 – The rain keeps on coming with increasing force, but people are toughening it out. Still inside the shelter of my car, the hail starts to pound down hard. It scatters the hundreds of punks in line to the shelter of their cars and behind the city buses. It looks like there is no foreseeable end to this summer storm.
12:09 – Go and watch Damone. First time I have heard them and I liked what I heard. Not good enough to make me stay and not feed myself.
12:35 – The Ataris have hit the stage. I watch them from the press booth atop the stands. They’re a good band and I was impressed with their performance, but I’m still waiting for the headliners.
1:58 – It’s now sunny, warm and the sun has graced us with its presence, drying up the water puddles. The mud puddles are a different story. They have been overwhelmed by mobs of punks who still like playing in the mud. The merchandise booths have started to unpack again after the storm.
3:04 – Tsunami Bombs rock out on one of the main stages. I take pictures and like what I hear. I guess that’s what Warped Tour is really all about. Short sets from different bands and letting people wander to hear new sounds and decide for themselves if it is listenable or not. Note to self: Breakthroughs are usually left to the end of story.
3:32 – One of bands that I really came for hits the stage. The Mad Caddies give it to the eardrums of the audience with their perfected ska styling. This was the first time I have seen them live and I was very impressed.
4:17 – Watch the BMX and skateboarders do their stuff on the half pipe. Some outrageous stunts, but they were coming few and far between so I head back to see what’s stirring in the merchandise booths.
5:30 – Interviewed Keith, the trumpeter, from Mad Caddies. The Mad Caddies, formed in 1996, hail from the Danish capital of America, which is lRB?red with large windmills and wooden shoes. The Calgary Warped Tour stop was the first time the Mad Caddies played the main stage.
"It’s one of the biggest shows in North America for us ever," said Keith. "We always get a great response in Canada."
When asked about advice for kids in bands just starting out, he replied he believes they should never get discouraged at any stage because opportunities pop up all the time. Keith also told me there is no room for me and my tenor sax in their line-up this time. Guess I’ll just have to try out for the Voodoo Glow Skulls.
5:43 – Al Barr from Dropkick Murphys was interviewed by CJSW’s Kelly Saunders as I sat in and listened to his very graphic details of how a bathroom was so bad, he decided he would just shit on the floor. I wasn’t even fazed; I was just too into his cool Boston accent.
6:32 – I remember one day long ago, doing homework at the computer and hearing "Roots Radicals" being played by my brother in the next room. It caught my attention quite quickly and remains one of my favourites. That little story leads us to Rancid being on stage right there in front of me. They open with another favourite, "1998." The audience loves Rancid.
7:30 – Dropkick Murphys take the stage. They were as great as I thought they would be and I am glad I stayed. Now I am satisfied and retire to my car. I really don’t have any statements about punk culture except: "If you hate punks, don’t tell them about it. They don’t care couldn’t hear you if they did."