On the first Warped Tour since Donald Trump’s election, politics and social issues played a big role in the festival. Some bands handled it more tactfully than others. Some bands handled it more humorously than other. It seemed like most of the band’s worth seeing on the Warped Tour had something to say about our president and/or bigotry.
10. Big D and the Kids Table
Although Big D and the Kids Table‘s recorded catalog goes back about 20 years, the band’s set still mostly hinges on 2004’s How It Goes. The band played through classics like “My Girlfriend’s On Drugs,” “Little Bitch,” and of course closed their set with “L.A.X.” Their attempt to delve into politics with a new song felt heavy-handed. Lead singer, David McWane tends to be better when he’s being earnest, closing the set by saying “we live in really weird times right now. Just remember you are doing better than you think you are.”
09. The Alarm
Throughout the 80s, the Alarm released Billboard 200 charting albums. Of course, the band was playing after Atilla whose members were born in the 90s and whose fans were almost certainly born in the 2000s. Needless to say, not a lot of the crowd stuck around to see the Alarm which is a shame because “68 Guns” still sounded as good as it did in ’83.
08. Strung Out
Strung Out is one of the few punk bands from the late 80s/early 90s who have been consistently performing and releasing music while keeping most of their original members (original bassist Jim Cherry passed away in 2002). That togetherness is apparent in the band’s set as they tore through 25 years of music in 25 minutes with very little breaks or breaths.
07. Street Dogs
Mike McColgan has always been a social and politically charged writer both when he was the lead singer of the Dropkick Murphys as with Street Dogs. What I appreciate about McColgan is he is not very preachy. He very nonchalantly thanked the stage workers at Warped Tour and shouted out their union. He also dedicated a song to members of the armed forces, a cause which he’s often been passionate about but is often poo-pooed by the punk community. There was no talk of presidential politics, just punk rock and the hyperlocal causes that he supports.
06. Save Ferris
It has been 17 years since Save Ferris has been on Warped Tour. Although the cast of characters around dynamic lead singer Monique Powell, the band hasn’t lost a beat. The band played classics like “The World Is New” and “Goodbye” from their debut album before closing with “Come On Eileen.” While Powell’s voice is noticeably deeper than her days in the late 90s, she still hit all the right note.
Being punk in your late-40s and 50s is not easy but Adolescents do it the right way. They didn’t poke fun at the metalcore kids that were still around the stage following I Prevail. They actually didn’t take much at all except after someone in the crowd yelled “Sonic Reducer” lead singer Tony Reflex said “I know that one, we can play it.” Bassist Steve Soto looked at him with notable fear in his eyes and mouthed “we can?” Seconds later the band launched into the Dead Boys cover and it sounded great.
Warped Tour traditionally doesn’t have a “headliner” but everyone knew Gwar was the defacto main act. Although its tragic to try to fit their bloody theatrics into just 25 minutes, the band manage to give the crowd a full mini-Gwar experience. Much blood was shot into the crowd as they decapitated a Marilyn Manson look alike and they gutted a Donald Trump visage. One of the band members even offhandedly said to the Trump impersonator “and nice job at the G8.”
03. Municipal Waste
Municipal Waste has always done insouciant thrash metal but in these more political times, their amp covering of Donald Trump getting his brains blown out was a bit more serious than the band usually gets. Besides introducing their 2003 track “I Want to Kill the President” with a mention of Donald Trump, most of the band’s banter was about how the Hawthorne Heights fans of the stage next door looked very confused perhaps because they didn’t know what thrash metal was. Lead singer Tony Foresta suggested “it’s never too late to grow out your swoopy hair.”
02. Valient Thorr
No politics just pure fun. Valient Thorr put on a performance to a somewhat apprehensive crowd that won many people over. Valient Himself jumped shirtless into the crowd and asked people to lay down before leading them on a mass sit-up routine. Nothing like getting a little exercise to a band that often sounded like Motorhead incarnate.
Anti-Flag‘s set stood at one of the most powerful not just because of the music but how the band members handled themselves. There were some jokes about a guy in the crowd who was dressed up as Left Shark but most of the stage banter was politically charged. Things like “let’s sing so loud that we strike fear in the heart of every bigot from here to Washington DC” seemed a little less heavy-handed than some of their counterparts. The real highlight was drummer Pat jumping from his drum kit into the crowd to stop a fight. From the stage, bassist Chris Barker chastised the man causing the fight saying “there is too much violence in this world to put up with it during our 25 minutes.” The band then played “Power to the Peaceful.”