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Growing at Warp Speed 

The Van's Warped Tour is back

The Van's Warped Tour has never been one to ascribe to the "less is more" aesthetic. With Warped, more is definitely more, as organizers pack on the bands like ground beef slabs on the newest monster burger at Carl's Jr. All for a price that -- by today's festival standards -- is definitely down in the comfortably affordable range. How do they keep the admission price so reasonable? Corporate sponsorship, baby. We spied no less than 70 corporate logos on the Warped Web site -- but hey, when there's this much entertainment value being provided (80-plus bands this year) for so relatively cheap, who's counting? Hmm. I guess we did.

Warped is back at the Gorge this Saturday afternoon beginning at around 2, with bands performing simultaneously on 10 different stages. Here's an abbreviated tour itinerary from a trio of our astute music writers for your perusal. -- Mike Corrigan

Thrice (North Stage) -- Sometimes sound can be hard to classify -- perhaps it's an insult even to try. A glaring example of this is SoCal's Thrice. This quartet grew out of the old punk legacy and new metal uprising of Orange County, Calif., and used their ranging influences to produce a sound that is comfortably new. Three albums, two EPs and a DVD rockography later, Thrice is set to perform its second stint on Warped's main stage, and release their fourth full length, Vheissu.

With influences raging from Metallica and Pantera to Screeching Weasel and Operation Ivy, Thrice has been at the forefront of the new rock revolution that has brought a new generation into the world of excellent guitar work, double bass and emotional, thought-provoking lyrics. -- Brian Everstine

My Chemical Romance (North Stage) -- Fame came on quickly for these five Warped Tour veterans who hail from New Jersey. Their new album, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, flew up the charts since it was released during last summer's Warped season, and the singles "Helena" and "I'm Not Okay" received heavy airplay on TV, radio and even MTV's TRL. The group's sound takes the simplicity of punk rock, the emotion and fashion of the new pseudo-emo, and the smallest touch of a heavy sound just so they can throw the "-core" suffix into their classification. MCR will play the main stage, as they did last year, to cater to the group's fan base, which seems to be growing exponentially with every passing day. -- BE

Fall Out Boy (North Stage) -- Fall Out Boy is another Warped veteran that has found extreme mainstream success coming off the end of last year's tour. The pop-punk sound that comes from the four members of this group is enough to get anyone bobbing along, especially for the fans of New Found Glory and Blink 182. Any Simpsons fanatic will be able to quickly identify this group's name, and any fan of pop-punk will quickly be able to recognize the sound of FOB coming from the North Stage this Saturday. -- BE

Dropkick Murphys (North Stage) -- The Dropkick Murphys is a six-piece Boston band (formed in 1996) that wears its Irish heritage on its sleeve -- hardcore style. Fusing loud, fast rock 'n' roll with Irish folk and lyrics that reveal a fierce loyalty to working class values, DKM's brand of punk rock shares a common thread with UK punks of yore like the Clash, the Pogues and Stiff Little Fingers, which of course, earns them a gold star from us. Live, the group's charged anthems and kick-over-the-wall chants take on an added dimension of fun and urgency. The band's heavy-hitting new album, The Warrior's Code, is in stores now. -- MC

DEK (Hot Topic Stage) -- This Seattle-based punk band is comprised of four high school friends, Mark Vraney (guitar/vox), Bret Chernoff (guitar/vox), Nick Myette (bass/vox), and Thani Suchoknand (drums). They may be still chasing that high school diploma, but their punk is strictly old-school (a la early '80s hardcore) played with a ferocity, abandon and unsullied joy that could only emerge from a group of teens playing for the sheer fun of it. Their sound, style and attitude spring from the source -- Buzzcocks, the Damned, TSOL -- punk rock that existed because it needed to exist. Guaranteed to win over cynics and poseurs in the crowd in nothing flat. -- MC

MxPx (South Stage) -- My MxPx days ended circa "Chick Magnet" -- do you remember those days? It was the blazing summer of '97, when my Sony's airwaves still seemed pure, when punk rock crowded every corner of my mind and soul. And right there at the front of the mid '90s plaid-and-stud craze were MxPx. Bold, funny, unapologetic for their faith in God, the Bremerton, Wash., trio erased the oxymoron from Christian punk. They sang about God and chicks in the same breath, mixed their humor and goofiness with their beliefs -- never banging kids over the head with a heavy religious hammer. They dropped three albums before they could legally drink, cranking out one more every two years or so. When their kid-punk fans grew up, the younger ones filled in the space. And they weeded out real punks when they did a Pepsi commercial. Alas, the pop-punk army marches on. -- LS

The Explosion (Maurice Stage) -- Ahhh, thank God -- just when we thought all of this year's Warped Tour were crappy Epitaph bands, we come across a smaller, more-respectably labeled band: the Explosion. The Boston punk outfit carried the Jade Tree moniker on their 2000 debut, then touring on the coattails of bands like the Promise Ring and Turing Machine. Too often the opening act, the Explosion has warmed stages for Rocket from the Crypt and Cave In. They are a little bit Social D. with a Chavez pace -- and by far one of the most promising bands to check out at this year's Warped Tour. -- LS

Strike Anywhere (Volcom Stage) -- What is it about the South and great music? There's the indie hotbed of Athens, Ga., the sweat-punk of the Gainesville, Fla., scene -- and now we've got bands coming out of Virginia like the hardcore quintet, Strike Anywhere. Also on the Jade Tree resume, the Strike Anywhere guys teeter the line between neo-hardcore and pop punk. You can dance to it, you can sing to it and you can sure as hell scream to it. These guys know why a band like Blink 182 became popular, and they embrace the spirit of fun-punk; but they screech lyrics that make them a wannabe Black Flag band. And that's a good thing. -- Leah Sottile

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