Friday, May 20, 2005

Why a Warped Tour site?

That’s usually the question posed to me by well meaning but rather concerned family members who think I’m experiencing some sort of a psychotic break.

There are two precise reasons actually, but mid-life psychosis has nothing to do with it.

First and foremost, I still remember the first time my son asked to go to Warped Tour. He was only 11, and even though I didn’t have a clue what kind of concert Warped Tour was, I just knew he couldn't go:

Him: Can I go to Warp Tour this year?
Me: No
Him: Do you even know what Warp Tour is?
Me: No. Take the trash out.

He asked again at age 12 – pleaded actually, because some band he adored would be there. This time the conversation was a little longer:

Him: Can I go pleeeeaaassseeee to Warp Tour this year? BandNameIForget will be there.
Me: What is Warp Tour?
Him: An all ages punk rock festival
Me: No.
Him: Why not?
Me. You’re too young for a concert.
Him: It’s all ages. What part of all ages don’t you understand? Little kids go there.
Me: Take the trash out.

OK not much longer, but at least this year I knew what it was.

In the spring of the next year he asked again. Warped Tour would be in Randall’s Island on the auspicious occasion of his 13th birthday. I have rather anthropological beliefs about that most horrible and painful of ages. The coming of age year of our distant ancestors. But to be brought up in a society so far removed from the culture, tradition and rituals of our tribal past, 13 many times goes neglected. Unless you’re brought up Jewish, there is little ritual for a 13-year-old. What rituals can non-Jewish families do to acknowledge and honor a year that, quite frankly, sucks. 13 has got to be the most emotionally painful year of anyone’s life. And such a milestone. Standing on the brink between childhood and teenage years. And it goes by without any fanfare for so many of us.

Warped Tour was something I knew he felt strongly about. I know that in our modern, divorced from ritual society, the first concert you go to definitely has it’s own ritualistic elements. The preparation and excitement leading up to it. Determining what to wear. The factor of the unknown. The first time you are exposed to live music, it’s a mind-altering experience. And somewhat religious as well, in it’s own warped way. What else can cause that great, soul-swelling heart-chakra love experience, than seeing a band you adore perform live for the very first time?

I wanted him to have that, in my own urban ritual way of honoring and acknowledging 13. So I said yes. And then practically vomited with fear at the idea of saying ‘yes’ to something I knew nothing about. I went out online trying to find Warped Tour information. I posted on every Internet bulletin board, discussion group, and news group I could find. I felt a little better after having talked to other parents, but I was still very frightened. My first concert was The Rolling Stones at age 15. 13 still seemed like such a vulnerable age.

I was a nervous wreck, from the moment I said ‘yes’ to the first time standing in that line to get in. I really didn’t know what to expect, and the crowd seemed overwhelming. My fear started to lift though, when I saw how nice the people in line were. Some band came up passing out flyers, pleading with everyone to go to their stage, and promising to play REO Speedwagon for me if I would see them play. Even though I hated REO Speedwagon when I was young, that had to be the funniest thing I had ever heard.

It was a real affirming and educational experience for my husband as well. He and I were miles apart in high school. I was in the nerdy-artsy-theater-crowd and he was brought up evangelical Christian attending Youth for Christ rallies. His only exposure to punk was seeing Sid & Nancy on IFC - not really the most accurate of descriptions. He was really ignorant to anything and everything about it. Shortly after getting in line, he was won over by the friendliness of everyone there. There's something so wonderful about seeing the blinders lifted from the eyes of someone you love, and seeing them come to their own conclusions naturally. Ask him now what punk is, and he couldn't describe a single band or genre, but he will tell you what came to him on his own. He'll simply say, "It's about community."

I decided at that moment I would write a review on Epinions of this, and it took off from there. I know out there somewhere, some mom or dad has been asked that same question, "Can I go to Warped Tour?" Knowing nothing about what Warped Tour is, they set out on the Internet to find out. And I hope my site can fill that void that was there back in 2002 – providing parents of adolescents some information that will make their kids very, very happy, and give them a good blast of reminiscence as well.

That is the biggest and most important reason of "Why a Warped Tour site?" The other one I’ll describe in more detail tomorrow. This is enough for today.


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