The Punks Take Back What is Theirs (Warped Tour 2009 in Pittsburgh, PA)

So, this year there’s been a lot of controversy about certain acts on Warped Tour. Certain acts who don’t really seem to capture the “spirit” of Warped Tour (two of which have been caught lip synching on stage) have been an unfortunately amount of the focus leading up to the supposed “Punk Rock Summer Camp.”

But after spending this past Wednesday at the tour’s stop in Pittsburgh? This is the year that punk has started to take their f*cking tour back.

My day began with Flogging Molly. Well, actually it began with some delightful misadventures involving Pittsburgh road construction and needing to find a gas station. So, more accurately, my Warped 2009 concert experience began with Flogging Molly. Irish punk was alive and well and drinking Guinness for breakfast (no, seriously, that was what they announced when they hit the stage. “Hello, Pittsburgh! This…is BREAKFAST!”) when the band hit the Main Stage. And despite having an electric banjo, an electric fiddle, an accordion and an ELECTRIC MANDOLIN in their mix of instruments, they were still punk.

Rule #1: Real punk is NOT about the instruments your band plays or whether they play instruments at all.

From there, I had to bolt to the Hurley Ernie Ball stage to catch Tat.

Oh, Tat.

Look, in case you haven’t gotten this from me since I got a chance to sit down and interview the band last year? Tat rocks. Just…flat out rocks. They had a smaller crowd at the beginning of their set, but as fans drifted in for the Attack! Attack! set immediately following? I heard a good number of them talking in amazement at how good Tat was and especially about how hardcore lead singer and guitarist Tatiana De Maria is.

Backwards over-her-head guitar solo, motherfuckers.

Rule #2: REAL punk doesn’t care if you’re male, female, straight, gay, black, white, whatever, just so long as you can rock.

After Tat there was some wandering around with Miss Gwen Artax (who, by the way, wrote an epic blog about how not to be a total douchebag at a concert), during which we managed to catch a bit of Jeffree Star’s set as we passed by the Smartpunk stage on our way to get lunch. And you know what? Take away his vocals and it’s decent dance pop. And maybe his vocals would be more tolerable if they weren’t being performed by a racist, misogynist, do-anything-for-attention douchebag.

We also managed to catch a little bit of Big D and the Kids Table, who brought us both back to high school when it was okay to openly like ska. Seriously, if you get a chance to listen to them at all? Do so. Even if it’s just a few minutes before you bolt back to the Main Stage to see…I dunno…Anti-Flag?

Oh, Anti-Flag.

Look, these are local boys. They come from Pittsburgh, and we love them for it because they have never and will never forget it. And so they made fucking sure their hometown got one hell of a show.

The set was loaded with politically charged punk and repeated messages of rebellion against the institutions that send us off to die in wars we don’t believe in, that give money to CEO’s who have finally run out of their own workers to screw, that encourage us to hate each other for things like religion and sexual orientation and other lines that DON’T need to be drawn in order to distract us from the fact that our hate, our rage, our anger SHOULD be aimed at THEM. They tell us which consenting adults can and can’t marry. They tell us who does and doesn’t deserve healthcare or an education. They tell us what we can and can’t do with or put into our own bodies. They are what needs to be brought down.

They also covered “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by The Clash in double time. But this leads us into…

Rule #3: Real punk makes you angry in a way that makes you want to do something to change what you’re angry about.

We ended our day with Bad Religion. And this is where I point out this year’s mainstage line-up including:

  • Flogging Molly
  • Anti-Flag
  • Bad Religion
  • Less Than Jake
  • NOFX

Well, now, that looks like a decent number of PUNK bands, doesn’t it? And at other stages you had acts like Tat, Big D and the Kids Table, The Maine, There for Tomorrow, VersaEmerge, Bayside and many, many more who have roots in punk, no matter which way they’ve chosen to go with it. But they have STAYED TRUE to those punk rock music roots and continue to tour in shitty vans, play whatever venue will take them, struggle to get from city to city. And, to agree with Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low, THAT is a dying art, my friends. That is something we’re not seeing as much anymore, we’re not seeing bands who understand the struggle to make it, the “do anything for exposure” attitude which is a far cry from “do anything for attention.”

And with that rant ended, somewhat? Bad Religion.

If you want to know what punk is? If you want to be reassured that punk is not dead, will not die easy and will go down fighting with a switchblade? Go listen to Bad Religion while they’re on tour. I do not joke. This was a band formed in 1980 that got more people moving and on their feet than just about any other band I saw that day. Their crowd was a mix of old fans, young fans who have found them any number of ways and fans who were waiting impatiently for 3OH!3 who got caught up in a punk rock mix and, hopefully, walked away with a new appreciation for punk.


And you know what? We NEED punk rock these days. Because, yeah, in the last election we voted in someone more likely to listen to our ideas and our needs and our wants than that last douchebag. But we STILL have to scream for change. Because now that change is possible, it’s our duty to put it into motion and move it in a way that will mean when we grow up, my generation, the generation below me and the generation comprised of my friends’ children, we will inherit what is left. So why not start molding that future now? Why not start using everything we have: punk rock, politics, blogs, art, soap boxes, Garageband, whatever, to scream loud and clear: WE REJECT YOUR WORLD ORDER AND WILL BEGIN BUILDING OUR OWN OUT OF RESPECT, PASSION AND SMASHED GUITARS.

Rock on, Buzznet. Rock the actual fuck on.