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The Epitome of Punk

Vans Warped Tour 2002

By Ravi Kapoor

Suffolk Downs

August 15, 2002

Ok, so I woke up a little late. I’m not accustomed to forcing myself awake before noon to go to a concert. So I didn’t. As I woke up in mid-afternoon, I did the all too familiar action of looking at my watch and saying “shit.” So I hauled my ass out of bed and wrapped myself in a Less Than Jake t-shirt, since every punk aficionado knows that you have to sport some apparel to show where your interests lie. The Vans Warped Tour 2002, aptly named, arrived at Suffolk Downs on a sweltering Thursday with big names such as Bad Religion, New Found Glory, Goldfinger, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Simple Plan. The lesser known or newer bands included Skitch, Big Blue Monkey, From Autumn To Ashes, Death By Stereo, Thursday and more. Overall, Warped Tour was eight heavy, distorted hours of punk madness presenting over seventy bands.

Arriving at the track, somehow I bypassed the entire ticketing process and just wandered out among the nine stages (don’t ask) preparing myself for a vocal and instrumental bashing. As I showed up fashionably late, I couldn’t help but notice the filth and trash strewn across the grass fields. The problem was, I couldn’t distinguish between the literal garbage, cups, plates, fries, nachos, and the “white trash,” who seemed to blend nicely into the refuse. While some concert-goers were pushing forward to get as close to their favorite band as they could, others were sitting on the grass in the middle of nowhere with no evident purpose whatsoever. It was going to be interesting.

There were two large stages prepared for the larger acts, closing with Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Bad Religion. These last acts drew huge crowds, as the other seven stages finished their sets between 6 and 7 p.m. During the middle of the tour, however, punks and posers were everywhere. The best thing about punk music is you don’t have to know what the hell is going on and you can have a damn good time. The From Autumn To Ashes set, performed on a stage about the size of my palm, was the most energetic set of the day. The audience, appearing completely dumbfounded, perhaps from all of the weed in the air, possessed mind-blowing energy. About 100 people supported six crowd-surfers, two mosh pits, and half-naked women at any given time ... during From Autumn To Ashes’ slowest, softest song of the set.

When I became a little tired of the music, I decided to wander around the grassy fields to check what other trouble I could get myself involved in. Besides the music, there were two half-pipes, one with BMXers showing off their limited skills (boring) and the other with skateboarders (more boredom). The audiences for these exhibitions were about ten people each, comprised mostly of older folks who took their rebel kids to Warped Tour but couldn’t handle the deafening music. Another thing that seemed popular was standing in winding, horizon-distant lines to obtain a soda or plate of nachos, as nutrition is important when at a concert. After being disappointed by these sights, I decided to head over to the Drive Thru Records stage to catch the Finch set, my main purpose for going to Warped Tour.

Finch, made up of five mischievous bastards all younger than myself, were by far the heaviest act at Warped Tour. With the same sonic sound that defined their first album, Finch had a large crowd gathering to hear Alex Pappas driven rhythms on drums, Randy’s distinct punk/hardcore guitar riffs, and vocalist Nate Barcalow’s range from solemn choirboy to screaming fiend. Finch opened with their title track, “What It Is To Burn,” a three-minute frenzy. Halfway through the set, to my surprise, Finch lapsed into the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” The young brigands closed with “Perfection Through Silence” on both their EP and LP. The short thirty-minute set was well received by the audience, as Finch signed CDs and t-shirts after the show.

The Vans Warped Tour, the epitome of punk, rocked long and hard, and the 2002 concert showed the path new school punk is heading ... into the hearts of us all.