Starting in parking lots in 1995 and eventually selling a half-million tickets this past summer, the Vans Warped Tour has been going strong for close to a decade now. This is the second year the punk tour has been captured on DVD, and this disc features an almost entirely different lineup than Pioneer's disc from the 2002 tour. The only overlapping bands are The Used and Something Corporate, chiming in with a different set of songs. Many of the usual Warped mainstays -- No Use For a Name, NOFX, and Bad Religion, to rattle off a handful -- weren't part of this tour, giving way to a mostly younger crop of bands. For this DVD, Kung Fu Films grabbed a couple dozen from the sixty or so bands from the tour, including...
It's a pretty diverse set, bouncing from chart-toppers for the Hot Topic kids, skanked guitars and brass, chugging hardcore, crunchy pop songs, one acoustic-driven number, and, trading in 2002's Flogging Molly for the Dropkick Murphys, an Irish-inflected squeezebox and electric mandolin.
Like any compilation with a bunch of different bands with a bunch of different styles, there are invariably going to be songs you dig, bands that make you want to stab yourself in the leg with a fork, and a big chunk of indifference. At least the advantage with a punk-heavy DVD is that the songs you hate are probably only two minutes long anyway, so the suffering's brief. Despite as many varieties of styles as there are on display, it all seems pretty seamless. None of the bands seem particularly out of place...astonishingly, not even Andrew W.K. all that much, who I never would've pegged for a slot on the Warped Tour. The squarest peg would have to be Something Corporate, who'd sound more comfortable sandwiched between "Hey Leonardo" and "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)" on soccer-mom-friendly modern rock radio. Thrice's acoustic-heavy number also has a different sound than the rest of the bands (it's the only performance where the group's seated), but it's a perfect closer. There's also a pretty even mix between the headliners and lesser-known acts, although even the newer groups still know how to put on a hell of show. Rufio in particular stands out, slinging around a bass, leaping in the air and rolling off each other's backs. This DVD is also edited together to make it feel more like a movie instead of a bunch of random pieces of concert footage piecemealed together. Between songs are comments from band members, extreme athletes, and the crew behind the scenes at the Warped Tour, giving a sense of what it's like to be on the road. If you were ever pondering how to cater for sixty bands, what to do with thirteen half-finished cans of beer on a tour bus, or the pooping habits of Face to Face, the answers lie within.
- Face to Face - "You've Done Nothing"
- Poison the Well - "Botchla"
- Glassjaw - "Ape Dos Mil"
- Vaux - "Ride Out Bitch"
- Avenged Sevenfold - "Second Heartbeat"
- Tsunami Bomb - "Say It If You Mean It"
- Pennywise - "God Save the U.S.A."
- The Used - "Say Days Ago"
- The Ataris - "So Long, Astoria"
- Rufio - "Above Me"
- Slick Shoes - "Darko"
- Mad Caddies - "Road Rash"
- Less Than Jake - "Ghosts of You and Me"
- Simple Plan - "You Don't Mean Anything to Me"
- Something Corporate - "Woke Up in a Car"
- Suicide Machines - "Did You Ever Get a Feeling of Dread"
- The Unseen - "Sick of You"
- S.T.U.N. - "Movement"
- Andrew W.K. - "We Want Fun"
- Dropkick Murphys - "Black Velvet Band"
- Mest - "Rooftops"
- Rancid - "Journey to the End of the East Bay"
- Sum 41 - "Over My Head (Better Off Dead)"
- Thrice - "All That's Left"
Video: Although this year's installment wasn't shot in widescreen like the 2002 DVD, the full-frame image still looks really good. It was apparently shot on DV and processed in post to steer it away from having an overly 'video' look to it. It's nice and sharp, with the colors desaturated to give it more of a stylized appearance. There's some light background noise, but nothing much for me to spend another paragraph ranting about.
Audio: The default audio is a 192Kbps Dolby Digital 2.0 track, but digging into the "Special Features" menu or whacking the 'Audio' button on the remote turns up a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix encoded at a bitrate of 448Kbps.
It's different than most of the six-channel concert mixes I've heard. There's not really any directionality -- you don't get a sense of where any of the performers are on-stage, and individual instruments aren't predominately located in any one channel. You're likely to hear the same cymbals crashing or guitar chugging in five different speakers, and depending on the song, the vocals too. There are enough differences across the channels that it didn't sound like I was being assaulted with the exact same audio from several different speakers, though. The instruments and vocals are generally mixed together pretty well. For the most part, nothing's buried in the mix, although that varies depending on the band. The backup vocals during Vaux's performance were pretty tough to discern, to scribble down one example that stands out in my mind. It's not a super-crisp, crystalline soundtack, but I thought it sounded pretty good for the most part. My biggest complaint was the volume leaping around during Slick Shoes' performance. Dunno if that was an artistic decision or just an authoring hiccup, but it's pretty jarring either way. Those two soundtracks are it for audio options, for anyone keeping track at home -- no subtitles or closed captions.
Supplements: There are a bunch of different ways to tear through all this material. The default option on the main menu serves up a mix of performances and interviews, but the "Special Features" menu will let you view just the songs or just the bands' stories if you want. There's also a jukebox that'll serve up a particular song. There are 25 minutes worth of interviews incorporated into the movie, but there are also lengthier chats with Andrew W.K., The Ataris, Face to Face, Kevin Lyman, Mad Caddies, Mike Frazier and Neal Hendrix, Pennywise, Rick Thorne, Simple Plan, Slick Shoes, S.T.U.N., and The Used available as extras. These extended interviews are feature-length themselves, adding up to right at 105 minutes total, so...yeah, a lot more. "Lisa Johnson's Warped Tour Photo Gallery" has nine minutes of automatic cycling pics, both of the crowds, on-stage performances, and the bands goofing around between sets. Instead of just showing one shot after another, there's some zooming and panning to liven things up a little. A bunch of plugs -- the art of Robert Williams, Kung Fu Films, and a few web links -- round out the extras.
Conclusion: Although I don't think the 2003 Warped Tour offered one of the stronger line-ups of the decade-old tour, there's enough good music from a variety of different bands to make this disc worth the pretty modest price tag. Recommended.