L.A. - Part 2 (Warped Tour)
If you want to read the first part of this blog post, go here.
I knew the Warped Tour was going to be in L.A. at the same time as I was there even before I left, but hadn't bothered to look any further into it - it is a big place after all. After becoming an aficionado of the public transport system, I looked up the venue in Pomona, a suburb on the east side of the city - a nifty two-hour bus trip and I was there (I could have stayed on that bus for another hour and still technically been in L.A. - I can get much of the way across this entire country in that time...hmm).
If you've never heard of Warped Tour before, it's a travelling music festival that happens each summer, moving from city to city across the U.S. with loads of bands spread out over different stages. My favourite bands have played the tour over the years and I'd always wanted to go, and today was the day.
Now one of the things you read/see/hear about Warped Tour is how hot it is in many of the locations they visit throughout the summer. Despite knowing this in advance, I still wasn't prepared for the mind-numbing temperature that I walked into. I have honestly never felt anything like it. I arrived at around midday, making a short walk from the bus depot. I walked for probably half an hour after being told to go to the wrong entrance by some dumbass attendant (one of the first indications of quite how disorganised Warped Tour is). While I was walking, the temperature reached 111 degrees (43.8c). Fuck that.
This is me when I got to Warped. I swear I was in a good mood, despite what my facial expression indicates, but the heat was so hardcore I was pretty much just looking for some shade to hang out in.
First impression of Warped (after the heat of course) was 'wow, this is smaller than I thought it'd be' - I guess we are spoiled for festivals in this country, so I was kinda expecting something like Reading Festival to appear as I came round the corner. I'd always figured that bands I saw at Reading were just stage-talking (saying what a crowd wants to hear) when they said they had never played anything like that before, but Warped is only slightly larger then the festival they have in my home-town each year in our local park. Weird. This is not a bad thing by the way. It was easier to see the bands, and the stages were tiny so you could be right in front of the band if you wanted to. All good.
The running order of bands changes every day. This board gets put up with the times. This system doesn't really seem to work that well. All the stages seemed to run early or late at their own speed and I heard loads of people saying they had missed their favourite band coz the time was wrong. One band I saw, Tat (English band who we saw at Reading years ago and I chatted to after, nice guys) weren't even on the board!? Flyers were getting handed out with different info from the board anyway. It was confusing to say the least.
This is me watching Angels & Airwaves. I don't know why, I've already posted here that Tom Delonge has kinda lost me on this one. They had the biggest crowd all day at the start, they had lost much of it by the time I left (5 or 6 songs in). Tom's singing was even worse than normal. This made me miss Blink 182 so much it hurt.
This is The Audition - I had no idea they were playing as, you guessed it, they weren't on that stupid fucking board. I just wandered past this tiny stage and recognised the songs. Decent band I guess, haven't heard any of their new stuff.
When I said we were spoiled in this country for festivals - it's not just their size that's different from Warped, it's some basic stuff like organisation. Each band and record label has a little gazebo where they can sell merch and do signings etc which is awesome - however each signing creates a massive queue which snakes it's way across the festival. When there are a couple of these going on at the same time, this makes a kind of 'wall' of people which then creates pandemonium when a band finishes and about 1,000 people decide to move to watch someone else. The steward type guys are there watching, but don't seem to work out that their job would be easier if they just moved the queue. I suppose that stereotype about the British loving a good queue is true..it is something we do well.
Bands I watched include Reel Big Fish (great, always good live), Say Anything (Max Bemis can do no wrong in my eyes - did some songs solo which was cool), Anberlin (Great actually...massive crowd too), The Audition (good - entertaining although I'm not really that into them), Katy Perry (good, wish I'd had the album before I saw here, some of the songs didn't come over that well live, but she's hot so who cares?), The Academy Is (much better than their Reading set from last year, new songs sounded good too), Angels & Airwaves (not for me), Tat (Great, she's hot too). I saw a bunch of other bands who's names I never caught, but they varied from the average to the utterly, utterly terrible.
I took a bunch of videos from Warped, but they will be posted up on our street-team so you'll need to sign up if you wanna watch them. They include a few live songs from Say Anything, Anberlin etc
Quick observation. The cliché that "everybody drives everywhere in L.A" was highlighted massively at Warped. I caught the bus there, and as I got off at the depot there was me and three other people heading for Warped (two of them totally owe me MySpace love, they know who they are!). On the way back, as people poured out of the festival, there were 9 people catching the bus, out of the thousands of people. There was no train route, and nobody was walking, trust me. Crazy.
All in all, an awesome day - if a little weird. The best part was chatting to bands, some people from PR companies, record labels etc. it was nice to have them all in one place and not have to chase them all up on the phone/email, it just made promo more convenient ;)
Part 3 will be up soon.