Judge Adam Arseneau hasn't been to a Warped Tour in eleven years.
83 bands. 45 cities. 13 years of punk-rock mayhem—and one of the most killer lineups ever!
Breaking teenage noses since 1994, the Vans Warped Tour has been causing musical chaos across the country for the last decade and a half. The Warped Tour is like the Woodstock of punk rock music, if Woodstock toured across to every major metropolitan in North America, had advertisements and product placements slapped over every available surface space and charged six dollars for a bottle of water. Sure, it's a bit commercialized, but one cannot deny that it's a heck of a party. This particular Judge hasn't attended one in over a decade, but by all recollections, it rocked.
As the musical tastes of America's loser kids gets more and more diverse, so changes the musical preference of the Warped Tour. Originally lush with skate punk and ska bands, the tour has been overrun by emo, hardcore, and metal acts, since nobody but me listens to ska anymore. This is reflected in the seventeen full-length performance songs that made the cut on Vans Warped Tour 2007:
It's nice to see some respect given to tour heavyweights like Bad Religion, Pennywise, and Fishbone; bands whose record sales today pale in comparison to their younger, louder tourmates, but whose constant dedication to doggedly rocking out for the last two decades made the Warped Tour possible. Definitely a nice mix of old guards and new bands, loud and soft styles, but this DVD is noticeably abridged. This is like a small nugget, a morsel, a tiny taste of the show. A mere 60 minutes and a dozen or so songs barely scratch the surface of life on the Tour. With such a short running time and a short set list, we simply don't get deep enough into the show to satisfy the curious. Three months of show dates, thousands of sets, and hundreds of bands passing through the tour, these sure wouldn't be the bands I'd select for a DVD set (except for Fishbone, because let's face it, they rock).
Vans Warped Tour 2007 does do a nice job capturing the filthiness and chaos that accompanies a tour of this magnitude. The larger headlining bands get the comfort of a tour bus to cart them around the country, but most spend the entire month or two of the tour sleeping off benders, endlessly setting up and taking down their own gear and trying to sell their merchandise in small, flea market-style tents so they can afford to pay their rent when they get home. As showcases for smaller acts, the Warped Tour is a magnificent, grueling and brutal opportunity to play fantastically large shows, and then stand in line for two hours to take a shower. The behind-the-scenes footage talking to various crew members, caterers, logistics folk, and bands (many that don't get to perform on this DVD) illustrate the ragtag lifestyle that accompanies trying to keep up with a convoy that drives all night and plays all day for two months straight.
All in all, this is a pretty standard tour DVD, with the feature alternating between one song from a random band, then one interview segment—rinse and repeat. The camera work is dull and uninspired, but captures the raw energy and energetic stage antics of its feature artists well enough, and always cuts away every ten seconds or so to show some poor emo kid get elbowed in the throat. I never get sick of that. The feature itself is cut into a lean sixty minutes, which only features about half the music listed above; the other tracks are available via a separate standalone menu as "extra features."
Presented in both stereo and full 5.1 surround, Vans Warped Tour 2007 sounds fantastic blasting out your receiver at top volume, with nicely balanced channels and clear vocals. They recorded the show a lot better than they videotaped it, which often exhibit compression artifacts, color distortion and mushy black levels, but it's all about the music anyway. The stereo track is okay, but lacks the bass robustness and forcefulness of the full five channels.
As for extras, we get the additional half-dozen songs not included in the feature itself, as well as additional band interviews from Alkaline Trio, The Almost, Chiodos, Coheed and Cambria, Escape the Fate, Killswitch Engage, Meg & Dia, Paramore, and The Starting Line.
If you're a fan of the music and you've never been, this DVD definitely will sell you on attending at least one Warped Tour. Say what you want about the corporate sponsorship, the trendiness or the commercialization of a music that inherently should not be commercialized, it's hard to argue against one simple fact; that for that anonymous thirteen-year-old kid in Middle America, the Warped Tour offers a chance for him to see all his favorite bands in one single day.
On that same day, the kid will be charged seventy dollars for admittance, crap his pants standing in line for a Port-a-Potty, and have a seven-hundred-pound skinhead dance on his face as he gets crushed in the Wall of Death during the Killswitch Engage set. Hey, capitalism rocks, dude.
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