FOR many young kids, even from a far-flung island such as ours, going to the Warped Tour is seen as a rite of passage, something which demonstrates and celebrates a love of music (Blink182 even name-checked the 17-year-old festival in the lyric ‘I couldn’t wait for the summer and the Warped Tour’).
As a long-standing fan of many of the bands who have made their name playing or being closely associated with the Warped Tour and American punk rock, I was eager to get hold of a copy of this documentary to see it for myself (alas, I have not yet spent thousands of pounds crossing the Atlantic).
The documentary was everything I expected it to be - sweaty tattooed teenagers making devil horns and shouting ‘Wooooo spring break!’; bearded roadies grinning; mosh pits and row upon row of endless merch stalls.
There were also elements I hadn’t expected.
Mainstream pop singer Mike Posner was one of the artists on the bill during the year this was made, and the camera crews capture his nervousness before embarking on what is a thoroughly anti-pop anti-mainstream festival (despite heavy endorsement from huge clothing and drinks companies). Mike sings songs about girls and clubs, not heavy drinking or rocking out. And yet he is the one artist who does not tire, doesn’t start flagging and whinging, who never seems to complain. The so-called “real rock bands” do plenty of that (to be honest, I would too, if I had to travel 16,000 miles in a cramped bus having only eaten junk food).
Then, there is the real America. The band Forever Came Calling hail from Twenty Nine Palms, California and follow the ENTIRE Warped Tour on its serpentine trail across and around the United States. Their van breaks down, they rarely get any sleep and have even less money, getting by on CD sales alone which they sell to people waiting in the queue. Eventually - and I suspect the camera crews helped - they meet Kevin Lyman, the Godfather of the Warped Tour and play a slot in San Diego. But even now their Twitter feed @HeyitsFCC has less than 2,000 followers, so you can see that it’s not all X-Factor style fame playing this kind of music. Their story is probably the most striking from the whole documentary and bands like Pennywise and Bouncing Souls attest that these are the real stars of the Warped Tour, the blokes in vans.
The DVD comes with a Warped Tour ‘best of’ album too featuring such WT vets as Sublime and No Doubt.
‘No Room For Rockstars: The Vans Warped Tour Film’ is out on May 15.