Trash! Pick It Up
U-G-L-Y, that’s the punk kids’ alibi, but where’s the variety?
There weren’t enough trash cans at the Warped Tour on Randalls Island Saturday, so the sold-out crowd of 20,000 got creative. As NOFX prepared to take the stage, the sun setting on a gorgeous, unseasonably cool evening, everybody decided to launch their empty bottles, paper plates, and promotional Slim Jim wrappers at once. A hailstorm over the moshpit ensued, lasting at least 10 minutes.
It was the most beautiful moment of a day short on beautiful moments, unless you count the sight of hundreds of kids slam-dancing to Irish rabble-rousers Flogging Molly’s tin-whistle solos and Yellowcard’s violin breakdowns. But who comes to Warped seeking beauty? The 10-year-old traveling punk-rock festival is a celebration of ugliness: ugly teenagers wearing ugly clothes listening to ugly bands pour their ugly feelings into ugly music. That’s what’s so great about it.
The main stages’ tinny, uneven sound drained all nuance out of performances, if there was any to lose. Thursday’s raging emo confessionals and Coheed and Cambria’s prog epics suffered the most, while Long Island crowd favorites Taking Back Sunday soared a bit lower than usual. Dopey pop-punks New Found Glory and stalwart pranksters the Vandals fared just fine. Over on the “Maurice” stage, however, the sound was crystal clear. There (unintentionally?), hilarious Ozzfest-worthy goths Avenged Sevenfold delivered the fest’s best set, camping up their apocalypse soundtracks with Cookie Monster growls, hair-metal solos, and a sample from the Edward Scissorhands soundtrack.
If A7X had truly wanted to be scary, though, they would have added some female band members or a DJ. Despite a thoroughly diverse crowd, Warped relegated hip-hop and women to the sidelines. Atmosphere, one of the few rap acts not shoved into the cramped, underpromoted “Code of the Cutz” ghetto . . . err . . . tent, furiously tried to open minds and start a party, but received a lukewarm response. Feisty electro bitches Shiragirl brought their own damn stage, a makeshift extension of their pink spray-painted van, which showcased girl bands throughout the day. Jessy Moss had the bad fortune of being a woman, an MC, and scheduled opposite both the Bouncing Souls and the Casualties; thus she rhymed shyly from behind her blond hair to about 15 people, including a group of cops. Everyone else, it seemed, was too busy throwing garbage to notice. Amy Phillips
HAIR TO DIE FOR
A melancholapalooza of bands does its best to beat the heat
An Ozzfest for kids who’ve already seen the newly expanded Donnie Darko, Robert Smith’s Curiosa Festival landed on Randalls Island two Saturdays ago for a six-hour stretch of distorted guitars, precarious haircuts, and—what else?—three-dollar bottled refreshments. With Lollapalooza a moot point, Curiosa got pretty close to resembling a scaled-down East Coast Coachella: generous lineup of hip bands; stifling, oppressive heat; helicopters buzzing overhead. Unlike at Coachella, I didn’t spy any oil-industry scions or stars of The O.C. Indeed, offstage celeb sightings were low: a couple of emaciated inky-haired guys who might’ve been members of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Cliff Burnstein, the Metallica manager enjoying his newfound fame after appearing in Some Kind of Monster, in which the Rip Van Winkle impersonator trumps all expectations of what a high-powered rock manager looks like.
We strolled through security just as Auf der Maur took the tiny second stage. If the band’s recent self-titled debut succeeds in crafting an entire album out of the central riff from Heart’s “Barracuda,” live, their goth-sludge power-rock lacked oomph. The Rapture, as gracious and enthused as always, lit up the cavernous main stage next. “Y’all like to boogie?” bassist Mattie Safer asked to a roar in the affirmative, though mostly folks sipped beer and blew smoke in my face.
New Jersey emo faves Thursday sounded tinny and overdriven, but they also had a guy whose job it was to tinker with amps and scream choruses. Interpol, perhaps the day’s most accomplished Cure disciples, previewed songs from their excellent Antics, Paul Banks’s stentorian vocals floating easily over his and Daniel Kessler’s interlocking guitars. Muse were insane.
Then the Cure played. Their new stuff’s a little too psychedelic and grungy for me—I’ve still got my old Screaming Trees cassettes, you know?—but on Saturday their classics sounded comfortingly classic: lithe, beautiful little melodies wrapped around unadorned need. “I will always love you,” Smith sang. I know the feeling. Mikael Wood