Vans Warped Tour 2001
featuring Pennywise, Less Than Jake, The Bouncing Souls, The Vandals, A.F.I., H2O, Me First & the Gimme Gimmes, Sum 41, Kool Keith, Morgan Heritage, The Ataris, Rancid, and 311
Central Florida Fairgrounds, Orlando, FL • July 27, 2001
The Vans Warped Tour can now be considered a bonafide success. This annual gathering of Gen-X music, sports, and fringe interest has entered its sixth year with no signs of slowing, and its only real competition still standing is the metal-oriented Ozzfest, also celebrating its sixth anniversary this year.
As I entered the fairground confines, an ominous sky loomed above. Nothing can drain a daylong concert like a Florida deluge, or for that matter, a cloudless sky that allows the sun to waste away the crowd. Luckily, like last year, Orlando was blessed with cloud cover, and managed to escape even a drop of rain. This was going to be a good day.
My apologies in advance for the coverage this year. I am on crutches and hung near the main stages. I usually enjoy the diversity of talent the side stages bring. In many cases, the band you caught there last year may be a “breakout” band on main stage the next. There were several bands that caught my attention and hopefully another reviewer will give them due coverage. River City High, Hollywood Beach Brian, The Spitvalves, and Lucky Boy’s Confusion were among the many that performed.
Of course there are the Warped standards: skate ramp demos, freestyle motocross, and a plethora of vendors. Whether it be Playstation or a cell phone, it doesn’t take much to lure a teenager. One new addition to the tented area was “Incredibly Strange Wrestling.” A character like “Versace’s Ghost” and a comedic emcee added a nice, campy touch.
Speaking of Warped standards, this year’s line-up included several. Warped veterans Pennywise blazed through a set of favorites and included a tribute to Joey Ramone by covering “Blitzkrieg Bop.” Florida locals Less Than Jake busted out some great ska-core sans any of their usual stage antics – no wrestling, costumes, or gimmickry.
The Bouncing Souls and The Vandals had great sets early in the afternoon, especially The Vandals, whose lead singer stood atop the speakers dancing in his multi-colored spandex underwear. Unfortunately, many of the fans were still filing in while they played. There was more punk in store however, as A.F.I. hit the stage. I had never seen them live and their thirty-minute set was one of the most intense. H2O also kept pace and had Sick of It All’s Lou Koller assist on a couple tunes. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes came on decked out in Hawaiian shirts and with a fully stocked tiki bar (thanks for the drinks!). They gave the crowd a brimming glass full of cover tunes. “Country Roads” and “Over The Rainbow” were the highlights. Oh yeah, new sensations, Sum 41 also gave the young female contingent a screaming opportunity as they took the stage. To my surprise, they had good songs and punkmanship in addition to their radio hit.
Each year, Warped also features hip-hop. In years past, acts like Black Eyed Peas and Jurassic 5 got billing alongside their punk counterparts. This year, I did not see any mention of hip-hop, but as it turned out, old-schooler Kool Keith came out and fired things up. Additionally, in a Warped Tour first, reggae was represented in the form of Morgan Heritage. I had not heard of them, but they were tight and brought some great roots reggae to the punks. These musical diversions really keep Warped from being too one-dimensional. I hope they continue to feature a variety of genres.
As the day progressed to evening and The Ataris were closing a hot set, the time was upon us – Rancid took the stage. I think this was the band that generated the most buzz and excitement throughout the day. Rancid has not played in Central Florida in quite a while, and although thirty minutes is all we got, it was put to good use, with tunes everyone could sing along with. Lars made sure to share the band’s disdain of major record labels and management, stressing their propensity for injustice and corruption.
311 closed the show with a couple songs from their new release, but mainly adhering to the “greatest hits” format, as did Rancid. By this time, the crowd was at capacity, with all eyes on the main stage. 311 generated incredible energy and left the crowd with a great vibe to take home from Warped 2001. ◼