Punk rock is about telling the truth. It may be stupid and pointless truth, it may be profound. But this music is typically and at its best an honest reflection of what's rattling around on any given so-called punk band's collective brainpan. In fact, the only way in this genre to be completely and unceremoniously stripped of your precious credibility is to tell lies. Give us the truth and you're in. Set off our B.S. detectors and you will be met with contempt or indifference.
The Vans Warped Tour (something like 50 dates this summer with something like 50 bands, all for a price most fans can afford) routinely pays homage to this great American art form. Yes indeed, the wild fire ignited by the Ramones nearly 30 years ago still rages. So bring it on.
The sideshow attractions that add texture, depth and thrills galore to the Warped mix are back, too -- as bad ass as ever. You've got the Kids Next Invasion Tour featuring 12 top skateboarders performing demos on a self-contained skate arena; the Girlz Garage (formerly Ladies Lounge) showcasing the latest in the worlds of fashion, music and makeup; the Balls of Steel motorcycle stunt show; the largest portable rock climbing wall in the country; the Fanzine Region; and, of course, the Reverse Day Care, a tented, air-conditioned area (with its own masseuse, cool drinks, in-house movies and sound absorbing earphones) where kids can drop off their well-meaning but overprotective parents while they cruise the action of the festival.
Warped is back at the Gorge this Saturday afternoon starting at around 2 pm. Here's a tour:
Dropkick Murphys -- The Dropkick Murphys is a six-piece Boston band (formed 1996) that wears its Irish heritage on its sleeve -- hardcore. 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. The band's latest album, Blackout, features, the genre-challenging sounds of accordion, tin whistle and bagpipes (!) in addition to the standard guitar-bass-drums. Live, the group's charged anthems and kick-down-the-wall chants take on an added dimension of fun and urgency. Be sure to stop by the North Stage and say "oi."
Simple Plan -- Goofball bubblegum punkers from the Great White North (Montreal, to be precise) with a relatively new album -- No Pads, No Helmets... Just Balls to support, comparisons (Blink-182, Sum 41) to shake and respect to earn.
Rancid -- The grand old men (relatively speaking) of East Bay punk are on board to stun ears with their patented sonic tonic of West Coast hardcore/West London Britpunk.
The Used -- On their self-titled Reprise Records debut, this quartet from Orem, Utah, sets out to transcend the close-minded environs of their hometown in an attempt to create compelling, sincere music. Do they or don't they?
Less than Jake -- Anthem (Less than Jake's first new album in more than three years) finds these Gainesville, Florida-based ska-punkers finely tuning their pop craftsmanship.
Pennywise -- This Epitaph hardcore meal ticket from SoCal continues to deal in thoughtful, tense and no-nonsense punk that places substance way over style.
Also on North Stage:
Poison the Well
Suicide Machines -- These road-seasoned vets have relentlessly toured the world and elsewhere since forming in Detroit early in the last decade of the 20th century. Ska punk? Pop punk? Punk punk? You make the call.
Andrew W.K. -- Andrew W.K. provides Warped diversity by eschewing punk for balls-out, driving pop metal: fundamentally catchy '80s buttrock awash in cheesy new wave synths. Yet these anthemic calls to party like there really is no tomorrow are inexplicably irresistible. And there's no denying the power of Andrew's anti-look, enthusiasm and goofball charisma.
Also on South Stage:
Face To Face
Vendetta Red -- This five-man Northwest band logged a lot of miles and released a fair amount of DIY product before getting the Epic call up in 2002 for the recording and release of their newest, Between the Never and the Now. Ascending stars? Could be.
Tsunami Bomb -- A young four-piece punk band from Petaluma, Calif., that formed in the late '90s and helped turn that sleepy Bay Area suburb into a veritable blast furnace of punk combustion.
Also on Maurice Stage:
Matchbook Romance -- The members of this Poughkeepsie, N.Y., four-piece credit their own Internet savvy for playing an instrumental role in landing a recording contract with respected indie label Epitaph. A couple of years ago, they built their own Web site and used it to network with other bands and to keep close tabs on fans. And their word of mouth crusade continues.
Authority Zero -- This Mesa, Arizona-based band built up its fanbase the old fashioned way -- by pummeling the crap out of their hometown and spreading the word one flyer at a time. Their Lava Records debut, A Passage in Time, is bracing and diverse, recalling the West Coast punk sound of Pennywise.