Critics' Picks

Warped Tour 2000

I remember as a little boy, sitting around the fire in my ancestors' ancestral home, hearing of the mysterious and mystical thing known as the "Warped Tour." The elders would speak of it only in hushed tones, late at night, and with the house poorly lit. Once, one of them said, "Young Yuval, for you are both young and named Yuval, we shall tell you the tale of the thing known only as the 'Warped Tour.' This mysterious and mystical thing was a nomadic enterprise traveling across the United States and Canada every summer to bring punk rock on a massive scale to the teenagers of North America."

I was an impertinent young lad in those days, and I immediately wanted more information, more knowledge from the elders. With the tone of alarm rising in my voice I asked--nay, beseeched--them for more: "Nomadic enterprise and punk rock and teenagers? You must tell me more, now!" And the elder must have seen the naïve terror and longing in my eyes, for that is what an elder must recognize in his youngest of young progeny. I mean, what else does an elder have to do during the day? So the elder continued, "All day, under the hot, unforgiving sun, there would be much activity. There would be skateboarders and BMX riders and Rollerbladers, famous ones and not-so-famous ones, but they were never important because nobody ever paid attention to them unless they hurt themselves. They would just perform their tricks all day for their own amusement and would retire when their hour was up, leaving the half-pipe to another day.

"Then, you had all the various distractions. Many different companies paid money to the owners of the 'Warped Tour' to allow them to market their products directly to impressionable teenagers through worthless promotional knickknacks and free clothing in a cost-efficient mass-market situation to try to increase sales in that all-important 12-to-17-year-old demographic. They had only their parents' money to spend at the time, but they would have their own to spend in five to 10 years. But of course you wouldn't know a thing about that because in this day and age the need for all that unpleasantness has been eliminated." I nodded my head in agreement. I mean, who would ever consent to that sort of commercial invasion in their everyday lives and especially when out in public?

The elder continued, as I was unsatisfied by the morsels they offered. Restarting the story, he said, "Then, there was the music. Yes, the grandest attraction of all. They would have huge touring bands like NOFX, Less Than Jake, Green Day, Bad Religion--the heavy hitters of their time. But they had several stages so bands were playing every second of the festival, often two or three at a time. It was kind of annoying because you were always undecided when two bands you liked were playing at the same time or one big band was playing and another band you had heard really good things about was playing at the same time. Tough decisions we had to make in those troubled times. But such is the price you pay when you're buying, as the slogan said, 'Thirty bands for thirty bucks.'

"But there were dangers, my boy. Whenever the tour came through Dallas, it was always at the end of their annual journey and inevitably in the deadly month of August. The kids never seemed to take that into consideration, though. They never drank enough water or put on sunscreen, so by the end of the day they were burnt and dehydrated. Oh, the pain, the pain. Smarter kids and adults were known to stay away completely...." He trailed off, choking back tears. I could see the memories had turned from pleasant to painful. I asked the elder to stop and I stamped out the fire, ending the night. I knew enough about that crazy thing, the 'Warped Tour,' to never again ask the elders.

Yuval Weber