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Pop Music Review

Rebellion Pays Off for Warped Tour

July 12, 2002|LINA LECARO | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Since its inception in 1995, the Vans Warped Tour has tackled the tricky task of celebrating punk rock's rebellious nature and, at the same time, recognizing its commercial viability.

It has largely succeeded, and though attempts at widening its scope with metal, swing and even hip-hop over the years have met with antagonism from purists, the music festival can claim credit for helping break acts as varied as No Doubt, Limp Bizkit and even Eminem.

In the last few years, though, Warped has slowly been returning to its hard-core roots, albeit with a decidedly cheerier bent. The 2002 tour, which hit the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for two days starting Wednesday, typified this shift toward a more unruly sensibility with a mash of fun-lovin' old favorites and some peppy young newcomers.

Unfortunately, most of the unknown bands had difficulty making an impact, as the smaller stages were placed much too close together, making it hard to distinguish one group's bludgeoning beats from another's. Still, amid the chaos and noise on the outskirts of the stadium, a few sounds did manage to stand out, most notably the old-school havoc of spiky-haired quartet the Casualties and the expressive aggression of Home Grown and Glassjaw.

It was the two main stages in the central area of the grounds to which most of the young fans flocked. Warped alumni including the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Reel Big Fish (the only ska-flavored acts), Lagwagon, NOFX, Good Charlotte and New Found Glory all kept the crowd's attention and inspired nonstop pit action near the stage, with the last two bands seemingly vying for the title of next year's Blink-182.

Highlights from the big stage area included Irish band Flogging Molly's spirited set of infectious bar-brawling anthems and the ever-tight melodic ferocity of longtime L.A. faves Bad Religion. The former played just as the temperature started to cool and, with BMX riders flying in the air behind them, provided a refreshing dose of mutinous mayhem.

Bad Religion, meanwhile, illustrated modern punk's full-circle status. Indeed, it is the very combination of catchiness and cacophony that they helped develop nearly two decades ago that has allowed so many of today's pop-punkers to break into the mainstream and that has enabled this long-running tour to thrive.

Vans Warped Tour, today at Seaside Park, Ventura County Fairgrounds, 10 W. Harbor Blvd., Ventura, noon. $25. (805) 648-3376.

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