Thursday, June 19, 2014

Warped Tour

Today I went to Mesa, AZ to attend the Van's Warped Tour. I primarily went to see The Protomen, who have never been a part of something like that.

I'd never been to something like the Van's Warped Tour either. So, naturally, I now have a few thoughts.

Leading up to the trip I was made aware of two things:

First, Mesa, as a suburb of Phoenix, is going to be pretty awful. Basically, there's no reason anybody should be spending any extended amount of time in that environment. It was hot, of course, and there was no real shade to speak of. I thought that the area around the stage would be covered, though, so I wasn't too worried.

Second, Warped Tour is an event created for and largely attended by teen and tweens. I believe this note was made in order to scare me away as effectively as the climate, but to be honest I don't have any strong feelings toward teenagers one way or the other.

The reality of the experience was a bit different.

It was an all day event, and I only spent a little over two hours there. I'm sure that if I was a regular, paid attendee I would have been more keen to get my money's worth, but my group was on the guest list, so our only real investment was the 2-hour car ride, the gas for said car ride, and the parking fee. All in all, I think I got my money's worth just getting to experience something new.

I was wrong about the area around the stage being covered, though. We were fully exposed to the deadly Arizona sun, which was unpleasant. There was water available for free, but it was from a single, normal water fountain which was slow to fill bottles. The fountain also had a constant line around it.

That said, the heat actually wasn't as bad as we were expecting--probably upper 90s instead of upper 100s. We managed to survive, though when we left I was definitely feeling a bit of heat exhaustion.

The place was definitely crowded with all sorts of people, only about half of which I think were teens. The rest seemed to be college-aged, mostly early to mid 20s. They crowded around stages, along fences, on patches of grass, and (sometimes) under trailers where they could escape from the sun.

Escaping from the sun seemed to be a popular advertising tactic for some of the tents around the place, including  breast cancer awareness tents (the only cancer with marketability, I suppose), and... I'm actually not sure what the other ones were. I think I got distracted by the dumb slogans from the breast cancer tent.

Anyway, there were a lot of merch tents around that had nothing to do with music or bands, but they didn't interest me--I don't think I'm their target demographic.

In fact, that was how I felt about most of it. Of all of the bands there, maybe three of them sounded like something I'd like. However, I was already aware of all three of them (The Protomen, I Fight Dragons, and Beebs and her Moneymakers), and all three were pretty wildly different from any of the other acts I saw there.

In fact, one of the Protomen mentioned to me that they were so different from the rest of the lineup that it felt like the crowd didn't know what to do with them. Sure enough, the Protomen drew the smallest crowd I've ever seen them draw, even smaller than that time I saw them at a tiny bar in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. And according to them, that had been their biggest turnout yet for the tour.

Suffice to say, I don't think Warped Tour is my scene, but I'm happy I got to go see my friends play. It was a good time, despite the weather.

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