A Warped Perspective

Local bands were the main attraction at this year’s Warped Tour.

I got this shit on lock! I got this shit on lock! Holler, holler at me if you're on my block!

Hours before the members of 3Oh!3 even rapped the opening lines from "Chokechain" on the Hurley Stage at the Warped Tour this past Sunday, it was clear: Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte indeed had this shit on lock, and damn near everybody on hand was on their block. To say that the duo is quickly becoming a phenomenon isn't even scratching the surface.

From the time we arrived at Invesco just after noon until their early-evening set, it seemed like we couldn't walk ten feet without overhearing peripheral chatter about the Boulder-based act. What's more, you couldn't extend your arms without brushing against someone sporting the crew's iconic hand-sign insignia. I've honestly never seen anything like it: Skate rats, jocks, metalheads, emo dudes and mall punks all lauded the group with equal fervor.

To understand such overt fanaticism, it helps to live with an unabashed fanatic like I do. My youngest heir, Lowercase D, has been raving about 3Oh!3 since he caught the group on MySpace this past spring, and even more so after I took him to see the guys live at the Marquis late last month. I have to laugh at the kid's unbridled enthusiasm. He reminds me of myself in that once he latches on to something, he gets it in a death grip and doesn't let up until he's gotten his fill. Subsequently, I've been waking up to the rudimentary synth lines of "Chokechain" and the pulverizing groove of "Holler Til You Pass Out" nearly every morning since he got his hands on a CDR that one of his friends bootlegged off Limewire. The disc only has four songs, but he's been playing it over and over again.

If you ask D, though, he'll tell you that nothing compares to seeing 3Oh!3 live. And although he was stoked to catch other groups, there was really only one act that he had to see. So as soon as we walked through the gates, he rushed to find out when and where the crew would be playing. I figured since the twosome had been added at the last minute, they would perform early in the day on a side stage. Au contraire, mon frère. Not only was 3Oh!3 not slated to hit the stage until 5:15 p.m., but the pair had garnered a choice spot on the sizable Hurley stage.

With plenty of daylight still left before then, we headed off in different directions. Psyched to explore the annual punk-rock circus without being tethered to me and his mom, D bounded off with his buddies. While I can understand why grizzled old-school punk purists and other naysayers bemoan the Warped Tour — it's a sanitized, commercialized version of all that they hold dear — it is still a decent entry point for the uninitiated. Sure, a lion's share of the bands sound the same, but it's a good chance for neophytes to catch venerable framers like Bad Religion and Pennywise. I was more interested in seeing how the locals fared, so that's who I spent my time seeking out.

First up was No Fair Fights, on the Ernie Ball stage. Scanning the lineup, I realized that I had already missed Saving Verona's 11:45 a.m. set by a half-hour, thanks to the time I spent negotiating the ridiculously long queue to get into the stadium. Fights got things off to a great start by delivering one of the day's tightest and most inspired performances. Although the band — like many of its fellow homegrown acts — performed before a modest crowd, it gained some new fans with its patented blend of blazing riffs, taut melodies and harmonies. Shortly after Fights' set, a guy standing next to me in yet another seemingly endless line (this one for the ATM) marveled that the group is local. He simply couldn't believe that music of that caliber was being produced here.

Later in the day, Schuyler Ankeleled Animo through a set of new material — or at least new to many: The last time Animo played the Warped Tour, the band was known as Dork and had a different frontman and different songs. Despite Ankele's protestations that he's been having difficulty singing on this tour (the fellas are performing on the entirety of the Warped dates again), he and his bandmates were in decent form. Shortly after Animo finished, the sky opened up and some mid-day showers sent the assembled throng seeking shelter under any available overhang or underpass. The rain brought everything to a halt, but it was a welcome reprieve. Before the afternoon spritzer, the asphalt in that parking lot was hotter than the sweatband in a fireman's helmet.

The Photo Atlas quickly heated things back up. Within a few songs, the band's dependably kinetic energy had folks fired up and as sweaty and red-faced as Chris Farley on the set of every movie he's starred in. After the Photo Atlas packed up, I wandered around for a bit and checked out the other inexplicable attractions, gawking at a giant yellow snake in a cage outside some sort of mutant sideshow and watching a group of Mexican wrestlers from Lucha Libre USA pretend to kick the crap out of each other.

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