Van’s Warped Tour, By Bill Whiting-Mahoney

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Perhaps the only gripe one can come up with against the Vans Warped Tour isn’t much of a complaint at all. There are over 30 bands on four separate stages at the festivals sixth summer outing this year and quenching one’s curiosity to experience even half of this great and diverse line-up may be an exercise in futility. But what one does manage to catch is likely to be spectacular.What was surprising about this year’s event was the amount of access that both press and fans had toward the artists of this festival. While dozens gathered around the Bif Naked souvenir stand to get autographs from the female singer later in the day, various musicians and extreme-sport athletes on the bill could be spotted wandering around the crowd. As well, press members and numerous fans were given overwhelming access to the festival’s backstage area to meet members of MxPx, Suicide Machines, Save Ferris and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I had the opportunity to ask Tom Wisniewski of MxPx about his thoughts on life on the road.I haven’t really missed out on much, for obvious reasons,”” said Wisniewski, 23, on the band’s touring career which began when he was 18. “”I don’t know where I’ll be in 5 years. I wouldn’t have said 5 years ago that I would be on the Warped Tour for the third time, so who knows?”” Not surprisingly, the two main stages drew the biggest crowds where The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Green Day, Long Beach Dub Allstars and NoFx lit the crowds up. But some of the smaller bands on these stages managed to hold their own against these ska and punk heavyweights.The sexy presence of lead singer Monique Powell highlighted a fun performance by Save Ferris and the youthful energy of MxPx pleased the girlies in the crowd. The hip-hop excellence of Jurassic 5 proved to be a gem moment of the day which drew surprisingly rave responses from the crowd. As well, the intensity of “”Last Resort”” by the rising alt-rock group Papa Roach and the old-school punk presence of Anti-Flag were awesome standouts.On the less crowd populated third stage, Gob graced their punk-metal set with an occassional Metallica riff that drew noise from their supporters and ended their decent set with a careening version of The Rolling Stones “”Paint It Black.”” Later in the day, the blistering English group One Minute Silence rocked to a bare crowd while Green Day drew the majority of the Warped spectators to their pleasing set. Still, OMS singer Yap gathered the few dozen onlookers together around one side of the stage while bassist Glen Diani leapt from a 20-foot stack of amplifiers onto the gatherers. It may not have been as popular as “”Welcome to Paradise,”” but the group still gave their fans a jarring show. Green Day and the Bosstones were certainly the big draws of the afternoon and with good reason. The charisma of Bosstones lead singer Dicky Barrett cannot be overstated, especially during the crowd favorites of “”1-2-8″” and “”The Impression That I Get.”” Green Day drew the most onlookers, even those of the old-school persuasion who frown upon this bastardized form of radio-friendly punk. Green Day are still hugely popular judging from the crowd they drew and killer versions of “”Welcome To Paradise”” and “”Longview”” highlighted their great set. It’s a wonder that the Bosstones can bring as much energy to their set night after night with a touring schedule that regularly breaks 300 shows per year. Still the eight-piece ska-group are absorbing onstage despite their rigorous schedule.””How much would it suck to work a real job?”” said Bosstones bassist Joe Giddleman about their motivations. “”Along the way, some fucking band started talking about how difficult it is to tour and ‘poor me, poor me.’ I just don’t find that to be true.””Along with Green Day and the Bosstones, the most popular act of the afternoon proved to be Long Beach Dub Allstars, which features Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh, the two surviving members of the now-legendary ska group, Sublime. Led by energetic lead singer Opie Ortiz, the Dub Allstars kicked through a couple original tunes among the Sublime drenched setlist of “”Caress Me Down”” and “”Badfish”” which featured bassist RAS-1 on vocals. The Dub Allstars ended their great tribute set to deceased Sublime singer Brad Nowell with their radio staple hit “”Santeria”” where the crowd supplied the vocals for the entire song.””What would you do if you got your dick cut off?”” said Wilson after the set when asked why he and the Dub Allstars keep the spirit of Sublime alive. “”I would be lost without my music.””The Vans Warped Tour may be leaning further away from its aggressive, die-hard punk roots each year with its diversity and mainstream talents. Yet, one thing that the festival has not lost is its human spirit which rocks straight down to its hard-core origins.