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Monday, June 25, 2012

Van's Warped Tour - San Francisco, CA 06.23.12 - A Father's Perspective

After weeks of planning and waiting, the day finally was upon us. This was to be a special experience since this was Taylor's first concert event that HE wanted to go to and see the bands that HE wanted to see. You see, we went to Rush in 2010 for the Time Machine Tour in Mountain View at the Shoreline Amphitheater. But that was because I wanted to go and share the day with him. He likes Rush, but not like me... his musical tastes are starting to form based on his likes and what he digs. Van's Warped Tour is the first event that he expressed interest in going to.

The following account is based on real events.

We hit the road at 8:15am and made the trip to SF in under 90 minutes, which was great. No traffic.

The show was in the parking lot of AT&T park, where the SF Giants play. I was a little skeptical of that from day 1, but it essentially worked out. more on that later.

I had no idea how big the crowd was expected to be. Doors opened at 11am and we arrived at the park right at 11. We walked around the corner of the park where the line was forming. and It was long... then we kept walking around the next corner and it was even longer...all the way around the ballpark. so we headed to the end of the line and waited. It took an hour and 10 minutes to get in the show at which time the bands started playing right at Noon. It was all good though. We chilled in line and started our day of people watching. Judging by the crowd, Tattoo Artists and Piercers are doing just fine in this 2012 Economy.

Once at the gate entrance, I asked the Security Guard how many people were to be expected. He was expecting 22,000, which would be a sellout.

Bless the Fall was playing on the first stage at noon. That is one of the bands Taylor wanted to see. We missed the first couple of songs, but we enjoyed the set from the outskirts of the pit. They put on a good, strong set of punk / hardcore.

Miss May I was right after that on the next stage. They put on a solid set with their flavor of Heavy Metal.

Since we rushed into the 'Venue' to see BtF, we didn't know how things worked. GUnkle Rei and I ventured out to find the schedule of events. We bought a schedule for $2, kinda lame, but at least could carry it around with us to map out our day. Come to find out later in the afternoon, they had a big billboard schedule of events in the middle of the place. It was much better having the schedule in hand so we didn't have to mess around for sure.

Cool thing about VWT was that the bands were pretty accessible. If you wanted to meet and greet, you could. We mapped out everything for the day by 1pm; bands we wanted to see and bands we wanted to meet. The kids had their schedules down and we set up check-in times to make sure everyone is OK and everything is smooth.

Bless the Fall was signing at the Alternative Press tent at 1pm or so. So Uncle Rei and I went to go check it out while Taylor finished up the Miss May I set. Turns out, you need to have a wrist band ahead of time for the meet and greet. I managed to lurk near by and snap a few pics of them. They were receptive to the fans and seemed pretty cool and friendly.

I know Taylor wanted to do some meet and greets for some of his bands he liked. so Uncle Rei and I ventured out to get the required wristbands. We got Miss May I at 3pm, which pushed to 3:30pm and then Falling in Reverse at 4pm. With FiR, if you bought their CD, it gave preferential treatment to front of line to get it signed... so i got their CD, The Drug in Me is You.... more on this later.

Next we saw Mayday Parade. I liked these guys. They were kind of RockPop / Punkish mix of the Descendants and Rancid. But younger. :) I recommend it if you like that type of stuff. High energy, good front man. Really got the crowd amped up.

We headed over to the tent where Miss May I was gonna be. We were a bit early so we checked out the skaters in the Van's Half Pipe and listened to the band nearby. These guys, and girls, we doing sick shit in the pipe. Lotta fun watching them shred.

We went back to the line for MMI so we were close to the front of the line so we got in and out of there pretty quickly. Miss May I were fun and cool. T had them sign the Day's Schedule and I had them sign a 1 dollar bill. :) Which one of them turned over and strategically placed a B and an R.

We hauled ass over to the FiR signing and the line was astronomical... around the corner and down from where they were actually signing. Gunkle did some reconnaissance, he discovered that the folks with the CDs and wristband can go to the front. So we headed up there to be welcomed by a freakin mobscene. While T inched his way to the front to get his CD signed, Gunkle and I took in the sights and sounds of I Fight Dragons. They were a Power Pop / Rock band from Chicago. They were good. Had good harmonies and good riffs thrown in with a good measure of Techno. They even used an XBox controller (I believe) as an instrument. Their schtick was fun and upbeat and looked like they were having fun doing what they do. Enjoyed them.

Finally, T made his way through the mob at Falling in Reverse with his signed CD, we took a breather, packed the CD in the backpack and mapped out the remainder of our day as it was approaching 5pm.

In the meantime of all this, the niece and her BF Harrison, steered toward the PowerPop bands. They hit, what seemed to be a crowd favorite, All Time Low. That was the whole reason she wanted to go. So we were all stoked she got to see them. She enjoyed them quite a bit.

T wanted to check out Motionless in White at 5pm at the Monster stage. MiW reminded me of Marylin Manson (just by Look alone) quite a bit. VERY High energy, killer riffs and heavy ass breakdowns. Front man Chris was great controlling the crowd, whipping them into a circular frenzy. He was very appreciative of the SF crowd and expressed that several times throughout their balls out set. Great Set!

After MiW at the Monster Stage which hosted The Ghost Inside next. These guys brought it. Straight Up in your face Hardcore. They were well received by the crowd, many of the fans singing along and joining in. These guys reminded me ALOT of my boys Pro-Pain. I would love to see these guys again with a longer set.

Next up was Piece the Veil across the Parking Lot, I mean Venue. We didn't last long with these guys. Didn't do much for me, perhaps it was the fatigue setting in by this point in the day, the vantage point we procured or the nasally, Billy Corgan-esque voice of the singer.... We bailed and checked out some random side stages and perhaps some $9 Funnel Cakes. Of which, T had one and scarfed it down in NYHC minute.

We caught Born of Osiris which displayed some serious Metal at the Ernie Ball side stage. They brought the Metal and my horns were blazin' throughout their set.

Down the aisle from BoO was the Motionless in White tent. Taylor noticed that one of the guys (Keyboardist Josh) from MiW was in the tent. I suggested to him to ask for a pic with him. After Josh finished with a more shapely, feminine fan (priorities), Josh gladly flashed his horns for a pic with Taylor. Definitely one of the highlights of the day for him and I.

With my lower back and kidneys screaming for relief, I am old after all, we casually made it over to the other side of Parking Lot A to check out Falling In Reverse. This dovetailed nicely as we got to see most of The Used's set which was right next to next where Falling in Reverse was set to play. We positioned ourselves perfectly during the Used's set for the perfect spot for Falling in Reverse. Taylor started squeezing toward the front for a pit position. Me and Gunkle Rei hung back a little bit, with great position.

Falling in Reverse jumped out on stage as soon as The Used completed their set. Being slightly out of touch with new music these days, (I wore my Rush - Time Machine Concert T-shirt to the show, of which sparked 2 separate thumbs up from Warped Folk and one conversation with fellow Rush fan about their new album; Clockwork Angels) I didn't really know what to expect. Despite their Goth-esque image, Falling in Reverse are a good, solid straight up Rock and Roll band, with a touch of 80s HairBand Glam, and the occasional Heavy Metal (Cookie Monster) Growl.

Front man Ronnie Radke, is the quintessential Frontman. Ronnie commanded the crowd with his impressive stage acrobatics Classic David-Lee-Roth style, mixed with The Who's Roger Daltry's mic handling skills. Ronnie's vocal capabilities are tip-top. Dude has some serious pipes. Going from a solid a Freddy Mercury vibrato to Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) Vox in back-to-back measures. The thing with Mr. Radke is that he really makes it look effortless. His vocals seem to flow out of him with the greatest of ease. This, in turn, allows him to do all the high energy interacting with the crowd that makes for a great show. Jacky Vincent's guitar stylings are matched with Ratt's Warren DiMartini. Unfortunately, early in their set, Jacky's master of the scale were outweighed in the audio mix. The sound guy adjusted pretty quick and Jacky provided his tight, clean crunch to the FiR sound.

Once Falling in Reverse finished their energetic, entertaining set to an enthusiastic crowd of Warped Fans, Gunkle, T and I met at our designated spot and began our trek home. Fortunately for us, the last set of the day was still going on (I do not even know who was on stage as we left, I really did not care at this point.) This gave us an early out to beat the majority of the crowd and make it back to the car nestled away under the Highway 80 Parking lot at 2nd and Bryant.

Happy to report, Taylor only suffered a bruised chin after someone's uninvited foot met up with it in the FiR Pit. As for Gunkle Rei and I, not sitting since we left the car at 10:45am due to lack of a sitting area for old people (grass or otherwise) took it's toll as it is now 8:45pm. My dogs were barkin' and my kidneys were beggin' for mercy. Also, Sunscreen, as it turned out, is our friend. If we didn't have sunscreen, we would have been fried chickens in the deceiving San Francisco Sun. Annie and Harrison faired pretty well other than being tired and slightly sunburned.

Next stop, Home Sweet Home... With a quick Taco Bell pitstop to fill in for the food we passed on at the show. All in all, what a great day! To be able to share such an experience with my son was a once in a lifetime deal. Taylor is already looking forward to next year's Warped Tour. And I will be happy to be Chaperone Dad again.


Anonymous said...

I was searching Warped Tour SF images from all the years I've gone on Google images and came across this blog. What an awesome read this was! My dad took me to my first concert ever (Warped 2000!) and the next three after that. He'd also take me to all other varieties of shows my friends and I were into. Metal, punk, hardcore, anything like that

Anonymous said...

Weird, I got cut off. I wanted to say that this makes me appreciate my dad coming along and showing interest in my music even more! I am 24 now, and have been to many shows in the past 12 years, but it's great to talk with my dad about seeing Green Day, NOFX, Disturbed, Less Than Jake, Eminem, Rancid, Blink-182, even the Stones! Back when he was taking me to Warped they had Reverse Day Care which was for the parents. I asked him about it the other night and it makes me smile ear to ear hearing him say, "It's not for me. I stopped in and had a soda, then I got back out there to see the bands." I feel like you and your son are both in generations after my father and I (Baby Boomer, Generation Y) so it's great to see this whole essence of bonding through underground music carrying on!!!


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