Live Review: Warped Tour in Atlanta

Where: Atlanta, GA

When: August 1, 2011

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(photos by James Hester except where noted)

Atlanta’s Warped Tour 2011 might have had a rocky start for this patron, but in the end the event redeemed itself and the ticket price was justifiable.  Avoiding morning rush-hour traffic, yet making it a point to arrive early at 10:30AM, proved wise as the dawn gave birth to rising summer temperatures and mile-long lines of anxious fans drenched in the enduring humidity.  Fortunately, years of attending such events, combined with urban wisdom, helped this guest avoid getting hustled by locals posing as official parking attendants.  Said parking attendants somewhat deceptively coerced many a concert-goer into paying hefty fees, just for the privilege to walk several blocks to a venue that already had its own free parking.  Morning preparations aside, Vans had quite the “circus manifesto” this year at Lakewood Amphitheater.  Along with hearing music from a variety of styles and genres, there were many concessions including tables ranging from arts and crafts, to foods, to video games, to body painting, to karaoke contests, and to live skateboarding demonstrations.  Local radio stations promoted the event handing out swag and giving listeners opportunities to win prizes.

Photo by Stephen Reynolds

This festival specialized in helping to expose and promote indie artists and musicians, who might otherwise be overlooked by most mainstream media.  Standout performances this year included Middle Class Rut, Black Square, Relient K, Brothers of Brazil, and Warped Tour veterans Big D and the Kids Table.  All of the artists performing were no strangers to hard work and touring.  Middle Class Rut provided fans with a loud, but clean wall of rhythms reminiscent of other California bands such as Offspring.  Guitarist and vocalist Zach Lopez sang tones similar to Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Ferrell.  The group belted out jewels in support of its current CD No Name No Color. It charmed listeners with the current hit “Busy Bein’ Born.” Hawaiian ska band Black Square shared with listeners politically and socially conscious songs.  Such themes were evident when it performed the songs “Long Time Coming” and “The Judge” from its current self-titled CD.   The reggae-tinged group inspired positive living with its mellow sound.  It’s guitarist Josh86 said that Black Square “just want to help people have a good time.”  When asked what he recommended for other musicians to succeed, he simply said “Just do what you love and enjoy life.”

Relient K surprised with a glowing arrangement of Cyndi Lauper’s smash hit “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” It was a bold display given the fact that all of its members are guys.  It’s featured on the band’s current release Is for Karaoke, along with six other cover-songs on that EP.  The group’s bassist John Warne said in a Warped Tour interview that he and his bandmates “just want to help fans get through their days a little better by focusing on the lighter sides of life.”  Brothers of Brazil drew a crowd with its unusually clean and mellow sound compared to most other performers.  Also interesting is that its two members created a brilliant balance onstage in terms of appearance.  It featured two guys who really are brothers from Brazil.  Supla had spiked, blonde, punk rock hair and beat on drums and Joao had conservative, short, black hair and strummed guitar.  Both shared vocals.  The music was a combination of classic punk rock with samba and bossa nova.  The brothers showcased their catchy original “Samba Around the Clock.”  Big D and the Kids Table frontman David McWane said he wants “to do more than just the band thing.”  The Massachusetts-based ska band Big D and the Kids Table added a special element to Warped Tour by helping Vans with its Warped Eco Initiative, which encourages musicians and listeners to reduce their “carbon imprints” by conserving energy and resources and by recycling.  It has been playing Warped Tour since 2003 and is currently touring in support of its release The Damned, The Dumb, and the Delirious.  The group’s saxophone player Ryan O’Connor said “It’s more fulfilling as a band to not just tour and make music.  We want to help make a difference.”  Big D and the Kids Table frontman David McWane said he wants “to do more than just the band thing.”  For readers wanting to do “more than just the band thing,” this summer’s Vans Warped Tour is highly recommended.

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