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Warped Tour '98: Is Anything Underground Anymore?

Going 90 mph on the Garden State Parkway, giving cops and truck drivers the finger, me and my best friend Anthony entered a world different to the residential Hades of Roxbury. A place where the fresh scent of salt water intoxicated our noses and the illuminating rays of the sun blinded our sensitive eyes. Our destination was Asbury Park, New Jersey to attend, in our opinion, the paramount summer event in the twilight of our teen years. Yes I am talking about the Warped Tour, where punk, ska, hardcore,and swing was the soundtrack and style, money, and youth-oriented product placement was the theme.

Being that I failed my driver's test, I had to rely on my best friend, Anthony, to drive me there. When we arrived we waited an hour on line, keeping ourselves occupied by talking with the people around us. We bummed a cigarette off this girl who looked like Tori Amos, she was 25, and we talked about high school, The Bouncing Souls, Jello Biafra, and the horrors of working in retail.(She worked in a comic book store, lucky) When we finally handed the guy in the yellow shirt our $25 dollar tickets, we decided to go to the local stage first, we saw a band called the East Bay Stitches, an oi band so I was in my glory. There was only 20 people in the crowd but the music was exhilarating. The lead singer even gave my a high five. Then we decided to go to the two mainstages juxtaposed by the band booths.

For the next few hours we saw 98 mute, The Smooths, Unwritten Law and so on. I met some more friends, a couple of co-workers, and some kids from my high school. As the day went by I enjoyed the music, but realized the scam that the Warped Tour was all about. Two years ago, they were the antithesis of Lollapalozaa, now they became that debunked event. Let me elaborate please. If you were there, you would have seen that it was sponsored by Vans Shoes, there were Yohoo booths, Playstation tents, most of the bands had tents with Tee-shirts to sell, cds to promote and god knows what. The point of this concert was not only for bands to perform, but for the corporations to make money off us stupid kids.

What devistated me the most was the $3 they charged for bottled water, pizza slices, and Gatorate. This by the way also is an example of the tyranny known as capitalism.(Fuck supply and demand) It is clear that the warped tour has turned commercialized. Such bands as the Cherry Poppin Daddies, CIV, Us Bombs, NoFx, Hepcat, and Rancid among others, will in a matter of time become Top 40 dribble and exchange there self-respect, principles, and punk attitudes for money, national fame, and an affiliation with a big time corporate affiliation. However the afternoon was not all bad, I did enjoy the music, I moshed and crowd surfed (my scars are just about healed), but the best part of all I met a girl, well actually she is a friend. Her name is Amanda she is pretty, smart and witty. If she is reading this, I hope she agrees with my views of the concert. Next year will be another tour, they will probably hike up the prices and have more commercialized bands. You won't see me there.

The Warped Tour was originally suppose to cater to punk music. Punk music is supposed to flip off the conformist, and corporations of our society. Even though the concert had punk bands, it was not punk. This situation is one of many example of how corporate America is destroying the individual and artistic spirit that ran fluently in the '60s and the punk emergence in the late 70's and early '80's. With MTV and franchise record stores, everything is rapidly being watered down to try and satisfy everyone in the quest for more money. I pity the bands at the Tour they will eventually turn into Green Day leaving their hardcore fans disillutioned. If anyone is planning on going to any shows in the upcoming months, don't go to big stadium shows, or ones sponsored by companies like Pepsi or Doritos, and try to avoid Ticketmaster, that monopoly overprices everything. Explore the local scene in your town or city. There is always a hardcore band playing at a local bar or night club. If you live in the north Jersey area, there is Skater's World in Wayne, Coney Island High, the VFW in Nutley, and the soon to be closing Pipeline in Newark. There will never be another Woodstock or for you punks the Rock Against Reagan festival in the early '80s. There are too many coorporations swallowing the pride of underground music. Someday the East Bay Stitches might be on VH1. It all depends on the choices they make and the will power they possess.

Email: cott321@prodigy.net