Warped Tour 2003 – Review

Warped Tour 2003

(Side One Dummy)
by Ewan Wadharmi

Everyone should stop worrying about “corporate music” ruining punk. When it’s no longer profitable to produce, they’ll stop signing. And bands headed that route will get jobs in insurance or securities. Punk that doesn’t pay the bills will be the only thing left until the next wave. It’s the damn kids who’ll ruin punk with their Morrissey monotone whining and blind denial that Rivers Cuomo was in a hair-metal band called Avant Garde with members of Nerf Herder and Ridel High. And it’s the kids putting on their dad’s denim jacket with the Judas Priest backpatch. These ones who don’t remember why punk came around in the first place. Well dammit, we fought the hippies so you could have punk. We fought disco and glam and arena butt rock. And we will fight this pop bullshit until the streets and skateparks and poolhalls run with blood and shit.

The under-appreciated Suicide Machines are a great start to the thing with a hardcore politco that jumps into a Clash ska break. NOFX provide a crisp, jumpy “Glass War” with plenty of clever wordplay. Face To Face throw some grit into the hard-hitting “Anybody There.” Useless ID is enjoyable in a cute Ben Folds/Fastball sort of way. Kicked In The Head have thoughtful lyrics and a vomitous rage like Putrid Flowers. S.T.U.N. puts out cool lyrics like “The space between our bodies has been corrupted,” before turning into RATM clones. Boston supergroup Avoid One Thing nails the spirit of many of the Warped bands on the funny “Pop Punk Band, to wit: “Bore us, bore us/get us to the chorus/just can’t stop us/got it at Hot Topic.” Getting better all the time, The Bouncing Souls go ska-less on straight-ahead British-styled “Born Free.” The mid-tempo “Walk Away” by Dropkick Murphys is a thick, dramatic slice that tastes oddly like Meatloaf. While The Casualties decrepit tribute to all things “Made In NYC” resembles UK Subs. Lagwagon‘s internal dialogue “Falling Apart” is a keeper if just for the unique form. The Unseen viciously spew “False Hope” like it’s the heydey of Oi. “Media Control” from The Briggs is melodic hardcore with a slobbering drunk delivery. None More Black sounds a touch rabid as well on “Dinner’s For Suckers.” Mad Caddies take up the reggae punk torch on “Drinking for 11.” Death By Stereo is pretty good hardcore, but may be hearing from Americans With Disabilities re: the singer making fun of ‘tards. U.S. Bombs are always good for a snotty street anthem, and “In & Out” is no exception. Pistol Grip sneaks in an Irish-sounding guitar line and neurotic vocals to the manic “Broken Radio.”

Bad metal choices and crappy singing plague the bands, with honorable mention going to Glassjaw‘s imitation of Adam Durwitz with a sour stomach. The Used make driving screamo, but the intermittent crybaby antics are like AFI without the evil. The problem with Less Than Jake is they don’t want to commit to the song. Or style. Or a damn thing. Thrice has a thing for late ’70s arena metal harmonies tied to thrash riffs, which must be an acquired taste. No Use For A Name tries nearly the same trick, marrying Scorpions to S.O.D. Slick Shoes lay a Turd Eye Blind vocal over a D.R.I. double-bass thrasher and say it doesn’t stink. Me First And The Gimme Gimmes turn in a rock cover of Jimmy Cliff’s “Harder They Come.” Not their best or funniest work, but better than hearing that unchanged “Boys of Summer” cover by The Ataris again. And speaking of boring ’80s AOR, Maxeen‘s cliché-ridden “Strangers” is along the lines of Eddie Money. “Somewhere on Fullerton” will have you wondering where you’ve heard Allister‘s pop punk before. Prolly Dawson’s Creek or some shit. The new Wesley Willis, overnight one-hit-wonder Andrew W.K. squeezes one out that sounds exactly like the other Budweiser commercial, but with more Queen. It works well that the singer for Coheed And Cambria sounds like Geddy Lee, because the band sounds like Rush (well, that and Tool). Avenged Sevenfold is great croaky speed metal by the Tasmanian devil. It’s got a good beat, but the slower breaks are too slow to skate to, especially the stupid ballady ones.

Stairwell has The Knack for good catchy pop music a la Cheap Trick, and “Boxcar” is already vintage. Emo is pop without pop-sensibilities. Light fare for folks with no hooks. The following bands are virtually interchangeable save a scrubby guitar here, and a violin there; Yellowcard, Jackson, Senses Fail, The Early November. Matchbook Romance flutters between two notes for the majority of it’s whiny boo-hoo existence. The cool, weird synthesizer of Motion City Soundtrack can’t redeem them from years of listening to Goo Goo Dolls. I guess someone has to play a lullaby for all the kids passed out with their forties, and Taking Back Sunday‘s acoustic “Your Own Disaster” is pretty enough. But talk about out of place. Go home and sleep it off.