Vans Warped Tour 2014 at Canterbury Park, 7/20/2014

Categories: Last Night
Photo By Joanna Fox

Vans Warped Tour 2014
Canterbury Park
Sunday, July 20 2014

In Canterbury Park on Sunday, on one of the first truly hot days of the year, the punk rock summer camp was in full effect. Much has been said about the changing nature of the 20-year-old festival. Over the years, the bill has expanded to include acts in endless genres, many which have almost no discernible connection to the punk and hardcore scene. There are now signs that ban crowd-surfing and mosh pits, and parents get in free. All of these could be construed to say that Vans Warped Tour has completely lost its edge -- but that only works if you don't pay attention to what's actually happening onstage.

Warped Tour may be the only festival in its category: an all-ages, multi-genre showcase that stops in cities as removed from major metros as Scranton, PA . It's a whirlwind, with around 100 half-hour sets to choose from, spread across nine stages. And though many aspects of the festival were far from punk rock, the core remains. The signs were ignored: Crowd-surfing and mosh pits were near-constant. It was an nine-hour rock show, the best day of many of the attendees' summer, and a must-see for those who like music and fun.

The scale of Warped Tour is something to see, with a forest of tour buses larger than the festival grounds itself overlooking the dusty field where the shows are held from a parking lot set up on a hill. All of this -- supplies for hundreds of bands, merch and sponsor tents, and the stages themselves -- is transported from site to site in the middle of the night. The Shakopee stop was end of a run of six straight days. That may seem like a lot, but it's child's play to Bowling for Soup bassist Eric Chandler, a veteran of the tour. For one stretch in 2004, they performed and traveled 29 days in a row. That many work days with no off-time can cause some issues, no matter what your job is. "I don't care if you're a professional kitten tickler," Chandler said.

Another source of tension back when the 20-year pop punkers began on Warped Tour 10 years ago was between the bands that formed the hardcore roots of the festival and everyone else. As a band with several Top 40 hits, Chandler said, Bowling for Soup was occasionally the target of some animosity. However, by the end of the summer, dismissal turned to respect. Chandler told the story of one well-known unnamed punk frontman who came up to their table after a show. The frontman didn't mince words: He didn't like Bowling for Soup and didn't enjoy their music. But he saw the effort they put into their shows, and he respected them as artists. "That's almost a bigger compliment than someone coming up and saying I love your band," Chandler said, "That's something I hope happens a lot at Warped Tour."

Bowling for Soup's early afternoon set was irreverent, silly, and self-aware. They asked the crowd to boo them every time they said "make some noise, motherfuckers" in a tongue-in-check hardcore scream, and didn't seem to take the set too seriously. They played "Punk Rock 101," a song about working at Hot Topic and wearing Vans that gently satirized a lot of the crowd, who didn't seem to mind. And of course they played the hits: "Girls all the Bad Guys Want," "1985," and "Stacy's Mom" -- which isn't even their song, but they've been credited with it so many times that they might as well use it.

Photos By Joanna Fox

BFS helped create the supportive environment they described for Warped Tour with their set--and with the barbecue they host for bands and staff in the evening. Other artists I talked to echoed the statement. Nicola Bear was one the DJs on the EDM focused Beatport stage. She's from the U.K., and this was her first Warped Tour and first time in the U.S. Her set was pretty excellent, a melodic, live mix of trap music and hits that stayed high-energy through finesse rather than brute force. Though she speculated that there could be some distrust of DJs and EDM from people who play the live music the festival is known for, she didn't see it. "We're all in the same place coming here every day to do our thing," she said.

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