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Warped Tour report: an exercise in survival

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Warped Tour report: an exercise in survival

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Music festivals are only half about the music, I've learned. They're also about coming out the other end alive.

We knew a few more things going in this year than we did last year. For instance, the total lack of vegetarian food options besides pretzels, and the existence of the free water truck at the far end of the grounds.

The weather was forecast for just as hot or hotter than last year, with a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. So we had our emergency ponchos handy, in case it rained. We even had an extra one for ihadtimetokill because I had to buy an emergency poncho the day the tornado touched down in Wolcott because I was out getting eternaleponine's car inspected for emissions and registered and stuff.

We also had super-nutritious Protein Plus PowerBars, bottles of Gatorade and SmartWater in the car for afterwards, and plenty of SPF 50. We were especially vigilant about re-applying sunblock because melovechocolate had gone out and gotten herself a case of sun poisoning at the beach earlier in the week, from not re-applying often enough. She started out the day wearing a highly dorky straw planter's hat from iParty to shade her peeling face, but switched to a cadet hat (that she bought there) about halfway through, after the planter's hat nearly blew off. I told her she was lucky I had not made her wear a Gilligan hat instead, which would have been even dorkier.

We got a good early start and were on the road before 7 AM, because I am used to the trip to Long Island taking three hours. Well... that early in the morning, it doesn't! However, that gave us time to gas up the car for the return trip, and stop at McDonald's to use the bathroom and get bottled water before we lined up for doors. Where we still were an hour and a half early. And it was already hot enough for sweat to be trickling down inside our clothes in really unappealing ways. We didn't get quite as many bands promoting their own albums, maybe because we were so close to the front of the line, but we did get All Left Out, the sweet New Zealand guys from last year. Last year's CD was actually pretty good, so I bought the new one. They also said they had free water at their tent for anyone who bought the CD, which was nice. I was hoping to see Trendy again, but no such luck.

Gates opened promptly, and without too much crush. The security guard wasn't too sure about the energy bars until I said "hypoglycemic vegetarians" and then she waved us right through. You could take in water bottles that were either sealed or empty, just not partially consumed, and, unlike Bamboozle, they let you keep the caps.

Because we were smart and used the McDonald's bathrooms, we didn't have to go straight for the porta-potties, so we went straight for the schedule board instead. We took out the extra-special schedule grids that eternaleponine prints up ahead of time, and discovered that all of the bands we wanted to see were playing at the same time. Okay, I exaggerate, but not by much. Amber Pacific conflicted with Street Drum Corps, the Toasters conflicted with Tiger Army, and Big D & The Kids Table with Alkaline Trio -- or maybe I have those last two reversed, because the schedule is in the pocket of my shorts, upstairs, not here. Also, Alkaline Trio was at 4:15, Bad Religion at 5:15, and then there was a great big gap until Red Jumpsuit Apparatus at 7:15 and All Time Low at 8:15, so, given that we'd seen RJA at Six Flags and All Time Low at the Bamboozle already this year, we decided to blow them off and leave after Bad Religion, because of how hot it was and what a long day it was going to be.

There weren't a lot of bands we wanted to see on early, either. This gave us plenty of time to cruise the merch booths and keep refilling our water, and when I heard a horn section at the Hot Topic/Kevin Says stage, I was able to stop and catch part of a set by the Hub City Stompers, who were pretty good.

The Fabulous Rudies were also a lot of fun. I am told they were this year's BBQ band -- the band that runs the barbecue every night for the privilege of being on the tour. I am not sure if it's always a ska band. Two years ago that was Left Alone's spot, and I liked them too. I have to say that a ska cover of "99 Luftballons" is very entertaining.

Street Drum Corps was incredible. Not crowded, so we were right on the barricade. And Bobby spotted me and smiled, and then he recognized eternaleponine next to me and blew her a kiss! And she got to hold one of the pots when he brought them down into the audience to drum on.

Tiger Army was also excellent. They split their set pretty evenly between old songs and songs from the new album. eternaleponine's been playing the new album in the car a lot recently, so those are the songs I know best, but I definitely want to get their back catalog too. The most entertaining part, though, was the dad with the shaved head holding the little four-year-old boy in the mosh pit. It was a fairly tame circle pit, and people were giving the kid plenty of room, and he had the world's most delighted grin on his face!

ihadtimetokill, melovechocolate and I all stayed at the stage after that for Alkaline Trio. eternaleponine, who isn't as big a fan of the Trio as we are, went off to the Street Drum Corps signing. We moved for the barricades. ihadtimetokill was going for the center, and got within about three rows, she said. melovechocolate and I went to the left of the stage, where it was less crowded, and got the barricade itself, which was very good, because we didn't get crushed. It was great to hear them again, and the sound mix didn't suck, and I liked the new song "In Vein," and Matt Skiba was wearing absolutely terrifying turquoise sunglasses that matched his frighteningly '80s retro turquoise and white striped skinny tie. I have pictures but they're not very good.

Everyone was pretty ready to go home by the end of that (and the free water had run out) but they humored me and stuck around through Bad Religion's set, because I explained that if I didn't get to hear them, I would be very sad. I was a little bit disappointed that they didn't play 21st Century Digital Boy, but they did a great job, and I was SO glad to have a chance to hear them.

I remembered from last year that there was a Panera not far from the venue. We found it the same way we did last year -- getting off at the exit that said Shopping Mall, circling the mall, coming out the other side, and spotting it in another plaza. Maybe next year we'll be able to find it without the intermediate steps?

Uneventful drive home, showers to take off the FIVE LAYERS OF SUNSCREEN and all the sweat, and so to bed.

We survived!
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