Everyone knows about the bands, the moshing, the crowd surfing, the heat and the overpriced water. But Warped Tour has never just about music: It’s about culture.
Nobody on any of the festival’s trillion stages interest you? Then check out some of these time-fillers.
Brothers Grim Sideshow
Punks and freaks have gone together like peanut butter and shattered glass ever since the Ramones turned “Gabba gabba hey!” — a reference to Tod Browning’s #Freaks#, the 1932 horror film about a gang of vengeful circus oddities — into a rallying cry for the weird and awkward. But leave it to the Warped Tour to #literally# bring punks and freaks together. Shades of the old Jim Rose Circus Sideshow that toured with Lollapalooza in the 1990s, the Brothers Grim Sideshow aims to replicate the look and feel of an authentic early 20th century geek-a-thon. Among their roster: Zamora the Torture King; a real live penguin boy (whatever that means); and Chuy the Wolf Man, a dude with hair sprouting from places you never knew hair could grow. Come to think of it, these freaks don’t sound much freakier as those who will be in the crowd at Seaside Park.
Lucha Libre USA
Despite being a multi-million dollar industry, professional wrestling is scoffed at here in the United States, degraded as a circus, the national pastime for hicks and trailer trash. In other parts of the world, however, the sport is a deeply held tradition. In Mexico, it is practically an art form — one that involves masks, blood and, of course, midgets. Lucha Libre USA is dedicated to introducing American Warped Tour audiences to the majesty of Spanish-language choreographed combat. This ain’t a bunch of rednecks throwing themselves through flaming tables. Lucha libre is second only to soccer in popularity in Mexico, and once you experience the spectacle, it’s not hard to see why.
As much as punk promised to be an egalitarian movement, the truth is, for many years it was primarily a boys club. Sure, there were exceptions, like Patti Smith and Debbie Harry and Joan Jett, but for the most part, testosterone reigned just like it had for in rock’n’roll for generations prior. But if you’ve gone to a show in the last 10 years, things have finally started to change. Sometimes, you’ll see just as girls in the pit as guys. Warped curator Kevin Lyman recognized this. Hence, the Girlz Garage area. In the Chop Shop, ladies (and, okay, dudes too) can design their own apparel (as punks have always done) using spray paint, sewing kits, glue, etc. The Shoe Gallery sells one-of-a-kind Vans designed by different bands. And the Lounge offers a place to chill. Proceeds from sales in the Garage go to breast cancer awareness and suicide hotline charities.