There was a time when we went to the annual Vans Warped Tour to find out what our favorite new, punk, thrash, skate and grind-core bands would be in the coming year (while simultaneously gawking as skateboard and motocross daredevils face planted on a half-pipe).
Since the Tour's inception in 1995, bands that have been introduced to the pierced and tattooed young adult masses at Warped include No Doubt, Weezer, The Black Eyed Peas, My Chemical Romance, blink-182 and Papa Roach.
(It's a hell of a track record. Then again, throw 100 or so bands on multiple stages for a day-long event, year after year, and a couple of them are bound to rise to the top.)
These days the script has flipped. Now, the main reason to go to the Warped Tour is to see ... the Warped Tour.
Who would've thought a bunch of skate rats and gear heads would forge the multi-million dollar industry business model for an extreme sports, multi-act concert event?
As Houston steadies for the 17th incarnation of this traveling, head-banging circus, set for Saturday at The Showgrounds at Sam Houston Race Park, it is the culture of the the actual event that is the headliner. Among traveling festival concepts that emerged in the 1990s, like Lollapalooza and Lillith Fair, the Warped Tour is by far the longest running and most successful of the bunch.
Who would've thought a bunch of skate rats and gear heads, headed by Warped creator Kevin Lyman, would forge the multi-million dollar industry business model for an extreme sports, multi-act concert event?
About now a smarty pants reader might be muttering, "This music wonk doesn't punk from polka. How can the tour be more important than the bands?"
This is how: Until the morning of the show, no one will know with certainty exactly who will be playing at the Houston Warped stop or what stage they will be on.
As of now the lineup is a bit of a mystery.
Pollstar.com offers some idea on who might join the party including headliners like (and these are merely educated guesses so don't complain to me if one is a no-show) Simple Plan, Less Than Jake, Unwritten Law, Pepper, The Devil Wears Prada and Gym Class Heroes. Other fringe delights one might expect are the Black Veil Brides (think KISS meets Cure in the 21st Century) and Reliant K.
What I can confirm is that they'll be 70-100 bands blowing the doors off the horse trailers at Sam Houston Race Park all day and night. And if you play your cards right ... you just might catch a set by the next Weezer, My Chemical Romance or Papa Roach and not even know it.
2011 Vans Warped Tour, noon till dark Saturday
Tickets: $34.05 in advance; $40 day of show