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July 11, 2011 - Image 9

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-07-11

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Monday, July 11, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


Warped Tour shakes punk up

National tour stops in the 'D,' catering beyond
the skater, alternative-music scene
By Timothy Rabb I Daily Arts Writer


Every summer, a throng of die-
hard music-lovers converge in the
parking lot of Comerica Park in
Detroit for the Vans Warped Tour.
The day long music festival - dedi-
cated to the music and mayhem that
typifies skate culture - draws a
crowd of surprisingly diverse char-
acters ranging from adolescents to
adults, scenesters to hipsters and
goths to straight-edge punks.
If this year's crowd proves any-
thing, it's that the ideals of ado-
lescent rebellion, solidarity and
outright zaniness that gave life to
Warped in the mid-'90s are still
alive and well. A sea of black t-shirts
mill to and fro between nine stages,
each declaring its wearer's vulgar,
tongue-in-cheek philosophy.
"F*** you, I'm fat," announces
the shirt of a stout, thirty-some-
thing concertgoer. "My feet hurt ...
from kicking so much ass," declares
These brazen attitudes aren't
just shared by the Warped fans,
but by the musicians they worship.
A screamed introduction thunders
through the air to kick off the first
band playing the tour's Advent
Clothingstage, one ofninesoapbox-
es scattered across the ballpark lot.
"We are a sucky band, and I am a
miserable human being!" announc-
es the lead singer, who avoids men-
tioning his band's name and instead
cuts straight to the chase.
"Everybody raise your middle
fingers in the air," he demands.
Once he's satisfied that at least half
the crowd is complying, he cracks
a sinister smile. "Now, that's what
I call a sea of 'f***-yous!' " At that,
* the fans' screams dissolve amidst a
From Page 8
see Halsey as the good girl of it all is
no less than insulting.
One of the film's few positive
qualities is the performance of
Phyllis Smith (TV's "The Office"),
who plays the innocent, under con-
fident and endearing teacher Lynn.

rollicking hardcore breakdown, the
moshing commences and random
objects sail through the air like dol-
lar bills at a strip club.
Unlike the fickle, gimmicky com-
mentary that accompanies most
live performances, the singer's
words sound unusually sincere.
That's because the Warped Tour
faithful aren't here to live vicari-
ously through the bands. Often, the
lives of the bands, their fans and the
other Warped attendees are one
and the same, rooted in the rabid
fan culture of skateboarding.
Just ask Pipinnetti, a teen who
came all the way from Albuquerque,
N.M. to compete in the Vans Skate
Amateur Mini-Ramp Skate Jam, a
competition that gives young trick
skaters the chance to prove them-
selves on a small half-pipe, driven
by the encouragement of their light-
footed comrades and the attention
of a smattering of passersby.
"I didn't come here for the
bands," said the beater-clad teen in
a matter-of-fact monotone. "I came
up here to skate, for a chance to go
to Hollywood."
Nearby, a beardy, brawny
Warped representative sits in
a metal folding chair, intently
watching every ollie, grind and
kick-flip. His name is Brent, and
he explains that he's sitting in at
every tour stop to judge the ability
of each and every would-be Tony
Hawk. At each stop the top skat-
ers are declared finalists and win
prizes ranging from shoes to small
cash rewards. The best from the
entire tour are flown to California
to skate at a larger event for a mon-
etary prize and the publicity that
Her part is too small to make much
of a difference, .but her comedic
abilities as shown in "The Office"
serve her well here. She's also bet-
ter than any other players involved.
Jason Segel ("Forgetting Sarah
Marshall") is naturally charming
as gym teacher Russel Gettis, but
his performance is little more than
phoned in. He nonetheless deliv-
ers some of the film's most comedic
moments, including one in which

'Unwritten Law' is one of the performers at Vans Warped Tour 2011 in Detroit.

they hope will turn their dreams
into careers.
Many of Warped Tour's veteran
acts have memories - at once fond
and painful - of their time as aspir-
ing skaters, when their dreams were
as profound as those of Pippinetti.
"My music career was made at a
time in my life when I was squatting
with a bunch of other skaters in an
abandoned house called The Blue
Room," said Scott Russo - front-
man of the punk rock act Unwrit-
ten Law - in an interview with
The Michigan Daily. "My whole life
revolved around doing drugs and
trying to be a professional skater."
Russo, whose band produced
the chart-climbing singles "Save
Me (Wake Up Call)" and "Seein'
Red," is an intriguing combination
of roughneck and fragile. Clutching
an oversized plastic vaporizer ciga-
rette in one hand and an umbrella in
the other, he speaks with an under-
tone of restlessness in his voice.
When asked why he's chosen to
weather the hardships of a broken
home, a lifelong battle with drug
abuse and countless creative differ-
ences (his band has released six stu-
dio albums, released by almost as
he asks Halsey, "hold my ball sack."
He's of course speaking of a giant
sack of dodgeballs, and of course
the moment is entirely irrelevant to
everything. Such are the film's most
comedic moments - already few
and far between, and just totallyout
of the blue. Paired with its unneces-
sary R rating, the comedy becomes
a parade of poop jokes (including
some glorious sound design) and
F-bombs for F-bombs' sake.

many different labels), his response
is as pointed as Pippinetti's.
"No matter what we do as a
band, I always feel like something's
incomplete," Russo said. "I can't
stop until I finish what I started."
The resilience that carried
Unwritten Law through 20 years of
trials and tribulations is a welcome
mantra at this year's Warped Tour,
especially in an era of the dwindling
record sales figures.
But as mainstream music adapts
to the advent of bigger and better
technologies, the bands at Warped
Tour adapt with it. In an attempt
to mitigate the decreased interest
in punk rock purism, Warped has
taken on more and more genre-
bending bands in recent years -
this year's lineup included plenty.
A noteworthy example is the
metalcore group Attack Attack!
from Westerville, Ohio. Their set
features the choppy, distorted
guitars and double-bass drums of
metal coupled with healthy doses of
techno and Autotune.
Bands like Attack Attack!
embody a widespread trend in
which older music genres like pop
and rock draw more and more from
R-rated comedies are often
praised for their uncompromising
creativity, as were "The 40-Year-
Old Virgin," "Bridesmaids," and
that other "bad" movie, "Superbad."
"Bad Teacher" is not to be included
in such a bunch, as the raunchiness
seems no more than tacked on.
"Bad Teacher" is bad (and the
lack of creativity in such a sentence
is nothing but reflective of how
uninspiring the film truly is). While

the contemporary influences of hip
hop and electronica. In addition to
the ska, pop-punk and rock tradi-
tion of Warped Tour and the trendy
hip hop/electronic crossover bands
of recent years, Warped went a
step further by including several
straight rap and dubstep acts in this
year's line-up, many of whom per-
formed on a local stage tailored spe-
cificallyto the Detroit music scene.
"This is my first year," said Neva-
dan rapper Big B in an interview
with The Michigan Daily. "We're
not your average Warped Tour
band, so it was awesome that we not
only got invited out here, but drew a
big crowd of kids."
Featuring a variety of musicians
is one of the ways Warped Tour has
broadened its audience base over
the years when its grown from a
fledgling tour with barely fifteen
bands in 1995 to a festival-sized
attraction with over a 100 live acts *
and numerous tents catering to an
eclectic amalgam of techies, met-
alheads, charitable donors, skaters,
cyberpunks and about every other
subculture one might imagine to
exist. Who ever said punk rock was
such badness could be somewhat
redeemed by a general sense of pur-
pose in the finished product or at
least a good effort from the leads,
the film falls far short of either. By
the end of the story - a story struc-
tured around the unfinished and
unrewarding arcs of a poorly devel-
oped cast of characters - there is
little to take away. "Bad Teacher"
has nothing to teach, and plenty to ns

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