My Warped Adventure
I hadn’t been to a Warped Tour show in years and as Reel Big Fish were on it this year I thought I should put in the effort to go and see them and spend a day with their road manager, who is an old friend from the Beat Farmer days…
The show was at the White River Ampitheatre in Auburn, so the first thing I had to do was get a valid passport…easier said than done. Where is my birth certificate? Are these passport photos still valid? Will you be my guarantor?…All problems that had to be resolved…and quick.
WARPED TOUR WAS ONLY 3 WEEKS AWAY
First I had to fill out the info and wait for a new birth certificate to arrive in the mail. No way to expedite that process…waiting…waiting…waiting…8 days until Warped Tour and it finally arrives…I can do this…What? my driver’s licence has expired on my birthday last week? Why did I let that happen…I hope I don’t get pulled over…It all came down to luck and karma. On the Friday before I would have to leave I had to go to the DMV and get my licence renewed, find a guarantor that would legally acknowledge that they knew me, and make a trip to the passport office in Surrey. Somehow this all worked out and I was told that I could pick up my new passport the following Thurdsday – 2 days before Warped Tour!!!!
2 LOVELY BRITS & A BORDER GUARD: ALL THAT STANDS BETWEEN ME AND WARPED
With my new passport in hand, I had one assignment left before heading south for Warped Tour. An Audience With The Croppers show at River Rock. The Croppers are characters on the long running British soap Coronation Street (save your comments…I like it and I don’t care what you say…bollocks to you), they were doing an Intimate evening type of show at River Rock. It was a brilliant show. David and Julie were wonderful people and I was glad that I got to meet them. At the end of the show we did a meet & greet with the VIP ticket holders, about 100 people. Normally a 100 person meet & greet would take maybe 20 minutes or so. This was no normal meet & greet. David and Julie were gracious hosts and chatted with each group of people…everyone was having a wonderful time…except me…I had been up since 6am and still had a border crossing and a 3 hour drive ahead of me. We finally worked our way through the guests and after taking some photos of David and Julie in front of the River Rock sign we said our goodbyes and I was on my way. It was almost midnight.
WHY DO U.S. BORDER GUARDS MAKE ME NERVOUS?
So I arrive at the border with my cup of Tim Horton’s and a box of Tim Bits beside me ready to face my first border crossing in a few years. The things I know are this: Never say you are going to take photos of anything. Do not say you are a photographer. Be as vague as possible, while still telling the truth. DON’T LIE. Don’t swear at them even if they deserve it.
After several questions and a lame attempt at explaining what Coronation Street was to an American, the border guard let me into the land of cheap gas and off I went.
The drive down the I-5 was uneventful. The detour due to the broken bridge was easy. Driving at night was the right choice, and before I knew it I was driving through Seattle and getting close to Auburn, where I was planning on crashing in a hotel for the night. Seattle looks amazing at night. Much better looking at night than Vancouver in my opinion.
By the time I got to Auburn it was after 3am. I decided it would be stupid to spend over $100 to sleep in a hotel for a few hours, so I parked in the hotels parking lot and climbed into the back seat of my Jeep for a nap. I am about 6 feet tall…my Jeep is not 6 feet wide…’nuf said.
FIREWORKS! FIREWORKS! FIREWORKS!
The White River Ampitheatre is on reservation land 7 miles south of Auburn. I am not sure why, and you really don’t see this in Canada, but there were fireworks on sale at almost every property between Auburn and the venue. Be interesting to see what would happen if there was a forest fire in the area… So I arrived at the venue about an hour before they started letting people into the parking lots. The parking people were great and let me park at the front of the line, but turned dozen’s of other people back…I did say I was there to shoot Reel Big Fish, so maybe that helped.
TOO MANY BANDS NOT ENOUGH TIME
There is no possible way to see every band on a Warped Tour show. Just can’t be done. Chances are you won’t even be able to see all of the bands that you want to see. This year there were 9 stages going at the same time throughout the day. I had a list of bands that I was asked to shoot if possible, my agent had one band that they wanted shot, and I had my own list as well. I ended up shooting 13 bands and probably saw bits of 10 other sets as well. The most time I spend in one spot was getting lunch from catering. That took about an hour to accomplish. Even though the waiting in line sucked, the food was pretty good.
It was great to see some new bands that I haven’t seen before. I really love Mighty Mongo. They were all types of awesome. Wicked guitarist. Cool power pop/punk/zombie songs and they were having such a great time onstage that it was infectious. Another very cool band was New Zealand’s Gin Wigmore. Great quirky music. Excellent singer. It would have been totally wicked if they had been in a club setting where there was proper lighting. I was also witness to the wickedness of Japan’s Crossfaith. A metalcore band from Osaka. Loud. Wicked. Shredded. Wow… I will always check out Japanese bands whenever I can. They are never horrible. They are either excellent or really cheesy. Either way, they are nothing short of entertaining. The “We Are Awesome and will Rock Your World” award goes to the Black Veil Brides. They were awesome and they did rock my world. They also probably had the biggest audience of the day. Well worth checking out. Motion City Soundtrack were good, as were Upon A Burning Body and The Echosmiths. Warped always has some great ska bands. This year was no exception. Reel Big Fish were their usual great selves and Big D and the Kids Table were really cool. Some of the bands that I was a bit indifferent to: Action Item, The Architects & For The Foxes. Not horrible bands, they just didn’t do it for me. The final band of the night was Goldfinger. They had some technical difficulties which saw their set start pretty late. When the monitor guy finally got the problem solved, they went on and did a good show. My friend from Reel Big Fish was doing sound for Goldfinger as well, so I was standing by the sound board and it was the perfect spot to shoot a bit of video. Sadly, of the two songs I have video of, one of them is the song where an audience member eats a twinkie from the drummer’s but crack. I really didn’t need to see that…twice…regardless, the world is a better place with Goldfinger in it. What would they have done if Hostess had stopped making Twinkies….scratch that, I don’t really want to think about it…
WE’VE GOT TO GET OUT OF THIS PLACE
I figured that traffic would be a bit of a zoo getting out the venue. One road in, one road out…I thought I could solve the problem by hanging out with Reel Big Fish for a couple hours after the show. I was wrong…I left the venue around 11:30. It took over an hour to drive the 7 miles back to civilization. You would think if they are going to build a concert venue in the middle of no where that they would also build a bigger road to get people in and out of the venue. Eventually I hit the I-5 again and headed North back to Canada. Around the point where I was near the Seattle outlet malls I started seeing things crossing the highway that weren’t really there. I pulled off the highway and parked at the WalMart for a nap. 90 minutes later I woke up kinda refreshed and continued towards the boarder. I hit the border around 3:30 am. The big difference this time is that the Canadian boarder guard didn’t really care where I was coming from or what I was doing. Just a simple how much did you spend ($20 for 3 CDs) and I was back in the True Norht Strong & Free. With Warped Tour behind me, it was great to sleep in a nice comfortable bed. On Sunday morning my wife and daughter gave me the best Father’s Day present ever…they let me sleep until noon.