Road trip 'Warped' with energized rock

Sweat-drenched and feeling bitter at being the oldest people there, three members of the Eagle staff took on the 2003 Van's Warped Tour from four U.S. cities. In its ninth incarnation, the Warped Tour crisscrossed the nation from Idaho to New Jersey, bringing the biggest names in punk rock and extreme sports to over 40 cities.

Headliners at this summer's tour included such stalwarts as Rancid, Glassjaw, Dropkick Murphys, The Used and Less Than Jake; and such diamonds in the rough newcomers as Letter Kills, Story of the Year, Avenged Sevenfold and Thrice.

Along with interviews with Thrice, Brand New and Coheed and Cambria, here is a m?lange of Warped highlights.

LOS ANGELES, July 11

Under a beating 90 degree Los Angeles sun, Warped Tour stormed the University of California Long Beach football field. Typical for Los Angeles, the traffic was horrible, preventing entrance to the venue until after Andrew WK's performance, one of many problems that haunted this year's tour.

Unique to this date were performances by Talib Kweli and Sum 41. Along with these stellar acts, the onstage acrobatics of The Used lead singer Bert McCraken and the guitarists in Story of the Year were standout examples of the energy that punk personifies.

Alongside The Used, other superb main stage performances came from the tortured souls of Glassjaw, whose singer Daryl Palumbo proved himself to be one of the most incendiary members of the 50-band cast, and from Thrice, who were forced to play an acoustic set due to injury. Tour heavyweight Simple Plan played a mediocre set, but the over-hyped Poison the Well were ghastly.

D.C., July 30

Before joining the rambunctious crowds at Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Va., every punk rock kid around the District woke up early to plaster their hair into liberty spikes and brave the dust-filled parking lot. With the sky threatening rain and the heat threatening dehydration, fans anticipated a day of stage hopping and waiting in obscene lines for an autograph from their favorite band.

Rancid, Warped Tour's veteran punk band this year, filled one of the final time slots on the main stage and played an energetic set to an enormously excited crowd. Rancid's album "Indestructible" was recently released on Hellcat/Warner Bros. Records.

Thrice, a punk-metal band that has broken into the mainstream after signing with big-name label Island Records, drew large crowds during its early set.

Thrice guitarist Teppei Teranishi said the crowds may not necessarily have been Thrice fans, but that playing the main stage gets them a lot of exposure.

"There are a lot of people out there who don't know who we are and they're hanging out around the main stage watching just because," Teranishi said.

Thrice, who released the album "The Artist in the Ambulance" on July 22 will headline a tour with Coheed and Cambria and Thursday this fall, which Teranishi expects to be a change of pace.

"[Warped Tour is] just so different from a regular tour. It's fun just because ... we're friends with a lot of the bands, so we get to watch our friends all day," he said. However, he also noted some downfalls. "It's also kind of draining just because it's like 'Groundhog's Day.' I wake up and do the same thing every single day."

Vinnie Accardi, guitarist for pop-punk band Brand New, agreed that there is really no way to compare Warped Tour to other tours.

"I wouldn't say I like [Warped Tour] better, but it's kind of like a vacation or something," Accardi said. "You do your normal tour and they're fun and you love it and everything works out. You know what's going happen. And here it's just whatever. You get to be dirty a lot longer than you'd be on a normal tour."

Brand New's latest album "Deja Entendu" displays evident growth on the part of the band. Brand New will play at AU with Dashboard Confessional on Sept. 7.

BUFFALO, N.Y., Aug. 7

A few days later, The Eagle had a chance to sit down with indie rock upstarts Coheed and Cambria of Kingston, N.Y.

Coheed and Cambria has been hailed as a band on the horizon, mostly due to its 2001 debut album on Equal Vision Records, "The Second Stage Turbine Blade." The album is loosely based on a science fiction saga featuring characters named Coheed and Cambria that the band plans to publish next year.

"It's a comic book, a graphic novel. We're not really sure if we're going to do it in intervals or one graphic novel. But hopefully it's coming out early next year, and then that whole record [will] make sense," drummer Josh Eppard said.

A concept record about made-up characters is particularly intriguing and impressive, especially since Coheed executes it so well. "Second Stage" contains lush melodies, random tempo-shifts and prog-metal riffs that sound difficult to perform live.

Not so, according to Eppard.

"I can play these songs with no limbs, at this point," he said. "I think complex arrangements make it more fun and more interesting."

In fact, the popular debut album was recorded in "some kid's bedroom" according to Eppard, which is remarkable when considering the sound and incredible range of lead singer Claudio Sanchez and the guitar work of Travis Stever.

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 8

The highly anticipated Philly show culminated the Eagle's coverage of this summer's Warped Tour.

With well over 5,000 fans on hand for their set, Taking Back Sunday played tracks from its huge debut and settled atop the heap of performances on its first tour day.

Once again, newcomers Letter Kills and Story of the Year played intense, exceptional live sets, and show closers Less Than Jake and Glassjaw carried the tour toward its final dates in New York and New Jersey.

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