Live review: Warped Tour

Roof-raising Punk:Rancid and the Warped Tour shake the Skydome

This year’s warped tour unceremoniously jammed fans into the concrete arena of the Skydome, where crowds had to share space with all four stages, a wrestling ring, a skateboard vert pipe, a BMX ramp and a dozen-plus merchandise tents, not to mention way accessible ATM machines. The two smaller stages may have offered talented acts like Jersey, Grade and Catch 22 an opportunity to attract a few more spectators, but they also ended up creating a wall of noise that even a retreat to the bleacher seats couldn’t dim.

Add a retractable roof that just wouldn’t open and seven hours of stale, sweat-filled, smokey air and you’ve got yourself a domed disaster despite a kicking festival lineup.

This year, punkers of all stripes had something to cheer about, from the beer-swillin’ blue-collar prose of the Dropkick Murphys and inspired goth-punks the Misfits, to AFI, who scissor-kicked their way through 10 songs in 30 minutes, to the grotesquely amusing Vandals, who won in the lewd and nude category when guitarist Warren Fitzgerald jumped onto a wall of speakers during I’ve Got An Ape Drape and pulled his shorts up above his shoulders to create an all-too-revealing thong.

But by far the biggest impression was created by southern California’s Rancid, the band that helped revive bullet belts and full-flared mohawks.

Taking the stage at 3:30 pm, the boys stomped, banged and bellowed their way through a 30-minute set of such classics as Roots Radicals, Maxwell Murder and Black And Blue. By the time they finished with their ska hit Ruby Soho, they’d whipped the entire cone-spiked, manic-panic-dyed crowd into such a frothing frenzy that a thousand voices were chanting in unison while moshing in a pit that stretched at least 20 feet back from the stage.

Other cool acts included Canada’s Sum 41, hiphop rep and veteran MC Kool Keith, Descendants-nurtured group the Ataris and West Coast political punkers Pennywise, whose Bro-Hymn anthem and Fuck Authority chant inspired enough one-armed salutes and soul-stomping praise to vibrate even those cheap plastic bleacher seats.

Originally published in NOW on August 16-23, 2001