red lights


Taking the safe road

Vans Warped Tour 2006
Marcus Amphitheater
Milwaukee, WI
June 17, 2006
Joan Jett
Joan Jett (Phil Bonyata)
Aiden (Karen Bondowski)

Story by Phil Bonyata
Photos by Karen Bondowski & Phil Bonyata

The 12th annual Vans Warped Tour came rambling through Milwaukee yesterday with it's band of gypsy punkers chomping at the bit to cause a whole lot of musical mayhem. The crowd of mostly 16 - 25 years olds roamed the grounds searching out the multitude of stages featuring primarily new school and old school punk. While the mohawk was surely in overabundance - quality punk rock or music for that matter was not. The bands' set times change at every venue including some of the headliners starting very early and some of the lesser knowns filling a headliners slot - which ultimately is very democratic.
Joan Jett and The Blackhearts played rote versions of their tired hits - eschewing any believability that ttheir music was still relevant. The Buzzcocks place in punk history might be a lock but their performance was missing some of the bands' past fire. Saves the Day acoustic performance seemed to pander to overkill (the band performed an exciting electric set earlier in the day) as lead singer Chris Conley's voice seemed completey out of tune. The Casualties performance changes as much as their brightly colored mohawks - which is never. The band has raw energy but is lacking in punk spirit and soul - even though they seem to properly go through the motions.
There were some highlights to help balance out the low points. Thursday's gut clenching performance was raw and musically linear at the same time. Less Than Jake's bouncing blend of ska and rock was a refreshing surpise with it's faniciful blend of rhythm and harmony. Anti-Flag's aggression is built upon a chaotic platform of politics and a jackhammer assualt that leaves the senses and brain barely intact. Valient Thorr's sly mix of Led Zeppelin chops and AC/DC dramatics kept the audience at full attention. The entire band let their hair and beards fly at full rock & roll mast.
The question is - is Vans Warped becoming more of a breeding ground for sameness and mediocrity by taking less chances. Like everything that starts out fresh and exciting it is sure that the weight of time will finally take it's toll.

Valient Thorr
Valient Thorr (Phil Bonyata)
Rise Against
Rise Against (Karen Bondowski)
The Buzzcocks
The Buzzcocks (Phil Bonyata)
Thursday (Karen Bondowski)
Anti-Flag (Karen Bondowski)
NOFX (Karen Bondowski)
Saves the Day
Saves the Day (Karen Bondowski)
Less Than Jake
Less Than Jake (Karen Bondowski)
Helmet (Phil Bonyata)
Plain White T's
Plain White T's (Karen Bondowski)

Through the eyes and lenses of Phil & Karen

Vans Warped Photo Gallery!

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