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Are You Warped Enough? 

That's right, just in case the 58 bands (by last count) scheduled to perform on something like seven different stages don't keep your MTV-ravaged brains engaged more than a few seconds at a time, there's plenty more to do and see at the Warped Tour. Check it out: there's the constant demonstrations by extreme sports athletes (skaters, BMX-ers, motocross-ers and mountain bikers), a treasure hunt (billed as a "Warped" scavenger hunt), fanzine booths, the Pirate Zone (with fun watery activities) and extreme drumming demonstrations.

But getting back to the music for a second, Warped is also one of the more egalitarian festivals of summer -- where all bands get more or less equal time to win over the crowds, and fans are not overcharged for the privilege of paying homage to their favorite performers. In fact, when you break it down, Warped supplies far more value for your entertainment dollar than any other single show or festival. (Do the math: $30 bucks to get in to see 58 bands -- that's only about 50 & cent; per band -- and even less per pound.) Here's a taste to get you frothing. This season's lineup includes (but is by no means limited to) Bad Religion, Reel Big Fish, Good Charlotte, Home Grown, New Found Glory, MxPX, Alkaline Trio, NOFX, RX Bandits, Something Corporate, Ozma, Sugarcult, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Finch, Flogging Molly, the Casualties, the Used, Quarashi, Lonely Kings, Anti-Flag, Smackin' Isaiah and Vendetta Red. (The complete list of acts is available at www.warpedtour.com.)

Smackin' Isaiah's people sent me adequate propaganda -- press kit, CD and picture -- to feature them above all others on the bill. (Yep, sometimes that's all there is to it.) They are also playing in Spokane on Sunday with fellow Warped Tour expatriates Lonely Kings at Fat Tuesday's as part of Krush's 31st Birthday Bash weekend extravaganza (more on that later). But then again, it's not all happenstance, for I cannot think of a band better positioned to encapsulate the whole loud/fast/snotty/androgen-ized ambience of Warped than this five-piece from New Bedford, Mass.

Spawned in that New England harbor town known more for its whaling history than its punk rock tradition, Smackin' Isaiah's melodic hardcore is an amalgam of various disciplines -- predominantly '80s L.A. punk, speed metal and emo. The tempos are accelerated and the vocals are aggressive. Lyrically, Smackin' Isaiah takes the well-traveled road with songs that dissect relationships, celebrate individuality and rail against the usual societal evils: authority, conformity and corruption. Since forming in 1993, the band, in addition to being featured on more than a dozen compilations, has released four full-length song collections. The latest is Benefits of Thinking Out Loud, with 13 songs about (in the band's own words) "confusion, angst, sorrow, loss, disillusionment and, of course, alcohol."

Heh. Yeah, they fit the bill.

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