It's a hard lesson to learn. Last year the heat turned me into music critic jerky while teens were flopping around and screaming along in mosh pits, all of them wearing black T-shirts. I would have sold my mother for an air-conditioned jumpsuit; a Gatorade IV couldn't have kept me hydrated. And the teens were back-flipping off the stage while New Found Glory played their asses off.
After shaking my cane at the pesky kids, telling them that in my day we had Lollapalooza and it only cost a nickel and the walk to the concert was uphill both ways, I realized a few things. One was that thirty was a whole lot closer to me than eighteen. The other was that the reason the Warped Tour has survived while other summer tours have died off or shrunk down into one-offs is that while the music styles have changed over the past decade, Warped has held on to a high clean note of teenage rebellion that never wavers.
When you look at the aging rockers in the Dropkick Murphys, you'll understand what I mean about your "real age." On their, uh, eleventh vocalist or so, Boston's finest shaved-and-inebriated rockers can still whip up a frenzy any time they take the stage, even though they formed the band around the same time many Warped Tour kids were learning not to eat paste. The snot-personified punk* of the Offspring and Jesus-friendly MxPx have been around even longer. And in the Warped Tour world, the Transplants' Tim Armstrong (who, kids, used to play in Rancid and the legendary Operation Ivy) is Chuck Berry-ancient.
But most of the Warped Tour are young enough to have quotes from emotionalpunk.com on their press releases, as the young fresh fellows in Emery do. Others name their bands after He-Man's home world (Eternia) or the hero of The NeverEnding Story (Atreyu).
Is emo dead? There are two bands with "Romance" in their name this year, plus Most Precious Blood, Another Damn Disappointment and Between Home and Serenity. From First to Last's debut is called Dear Diary: My Teen Angst Has a Bodycount (yes, a Heathers reference). Emo isn't dead.
One Warped Tour band that won't be showing up is St. Louis' Story of the Year. They already played the UMB Pavilion earlier this spring, so fans will have to wait a little longer to check them out again. But Ludo, which seems to draw from the Offspring, the Vandals and Weezer in equal measure, ought to represent St. Louis in style. If you're up for the Warped Tour this year, try to squeeze them in while catching as many of the 60-plus bands as you can. If you can make a full day of it, hang with the kids and not begrudge them their own teenage sounds and styles, maybe your real age itself isn't 60-plus.
*If you read this sentence, snorted and said "The Offspring aren't punk, [30-year-old band] was punk," not only are you old, you are an old fart. Language evolves, sunshine, and styles mutate. Must a song sound like "Rocket 88" to be rock & roll? Of course not. Unclench, go back to waxing rhapsodic about the heyday of zines and leave the goddamn kids alone.