Hot. If one could characterize this year’s Warped Tour San Antonio in one word, it would be hot. Despite being moved to the beginning of the tour and up a whole month from the July dates I remember attending in my youth, the scorching Texas sun was the defining characteristic of Sunday, June 26th for me at San Antonio’s AT&T Center.
As a yearly attendee of Warped Tours all through the ‘90s and early ‘00s, I must admit that I was expecting the quality of the event to beat the heat. Instead, I found the whole experience lacking. Not to say the music was bad, or even that I wasn’t entertained. It was just… different. It took me a while to pinpoint exactly what had changed. I wasn’t fazed by the constant sponsor bombardment, the high food and drink prices, or the smattering of booths that were determined to use scare tactics to change the way you viewed hamburgers; those have always been a part of the Warped Tour.
Finally, I looked up a list of the bands that had their genres listed. Hardcore. Metalcore. Hardcore Metal. Screamo. Experimental. Electronic. Reggae. Alternative. Pop. Dance. Indie. Indie? Where was all the punk, the ska? Sure, there was a smattering of bands:Less Than Jake, Reliant K, and Simple Plan. But overall, the punk festival appears to have lost its roots. It was to the point that I found myself breathing a sigh of relief and thinking, “Finally, this is Warped Tour,” when I came across Street Dogs, a punk outfit from Boston that I had never heard before.
I am not opposed to diversity in music, as there were some excellent shows by acts like Big Chocolate, The Devil Wears Prada, Foxy Shazam, Attack Attack!, and 3OH!3, that I may otherwise have never seen but I felt that the loss of a cohesive musical theme hurt the tour when it came to overall quality. No longer was it one like-minded crowd running from heavyweight to heavyweight: NOFX, Bad Religion, Reel Big Fish, No Use For A Name, MXPX, The Offspring, Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys. Now it was scattered interests wandering aimlessly between genres, unsure of what to do with themselves until the next band that even remotely met their musical tastes began playing.
Despite my disappointment, I would not necessarily recommend skipping out on Warped Tour. If your tastes in music include ‘everything’, then this is an ideal festival to attend. I can’t think of any other traveling festival that will give you exposure to so many different types of music. But if you are walking into it expecting the punk festival it was ten years ago, be prepared. If the festival had taken place in a location that did not feel like the interior of an oven, I probably would have found the overall experience to be decent. But a decent experience pales in comparison to the torturous experience of eight hours outdoors in a Texas summer.