Warped Tour 2009 @ Susquehanna Bank Center

CAMDEN, NJ—Even amid all the controversy some of the smaller stage acts had been causing on this year’s Warped Tour, thanks to their lack of talent in making electronic music and landing on this tour known for its punk roots, all the action seemed to happen on the main stage. It was a nice combination of bands that really encapsulated what has been happening throughout the 15 years Warped Tour has been going on.

The main stage gathered fans and those hanging around to “pay their respects” for bands such as Bad Religion, Nofx and Flogging Molly. Nofx gave a set that included as many jokes as songs. They were lewd, crude and mildly disgusting, but that’s what made their set really entertaining to watch. Between stabs at other bands on the tour, people in the audience and each other, singer Fat Mike claimed many of the songs they were doing hadn’t been done on U.S. soil before so listeners should feel lucky.

I did pick up on “Stickin’ In My Eye,” a song probably older than most of the kids in the circle pit. They proved that maybe the madness behind their success is to do what you want whenever you want. While they gave the tour a punch of fast, raw punk rock, Anti-Flag brought the political side of punk.

While most of their songs and in-between talks commented on politics, Anti-Flag laid down their own law by giving two male troublemakers a weird ultimatum—either kiss and make up or be escorted out. Surprisingly, they agreed to the band’s demand and got to stay for the show.

Before thier finish, they threw in a cover of The Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” and brought out fellow Warped drummer Chachi Darin of The A.K.A.s for the last song. To bring a little something different to the stage were Less Than Jake and Flogging Molly.

It so happens that this is Less Than Jake’s first time playing Warped, however they seemed to fit perfectly on the bill. They provided a nice dose of ska and then it was Flogging Molly who added their full-bodied Irish punk rock to the tour. Singer Dave King also made mention of how thankful he and band mates were for the tour putting up with them after all these years.

This year, there was only one main stage and so it was a bit of a hassle to see some of the bands that would have taken the second stage. One of the biggest buzz bands of the moment is A Day To Remember, who takes from almost every rock genre to create what can only be described as just really good music.

It was amazing to see everyone there let loose once the opening to “Downfall Of Us All” started straight through to the last song, “Bomb The Panhandle.” Nearby, another two bands were bursting off the small stage they were given.

Dance Gavin Dance’s audience spilled from the pit area and into the seated areas. Fans were grooving to what sounded like post-hardcore mixed with funk music on new song “Don’t Tell Dave” and moshed a little for the last song, “Rock Solid.”

Senses Fail included songs off their first full-length and their new album, Life Is Not A Waiting Room, in their set. When lead signer Buddy Nielsen wasn’t making his usual comments on the validity of bands in the industry, he joined the crowd during several songs like on finale “Can’t Be Saved.”

Between punk and rock, many purely pop rock bands made their presence known. The Maine played quite the fun set of the cutesy brand of MTV pop rock and even made an attempt at Def Leopard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” In retrospect, their cover of the song wasn’t that bad.

A shining set came from upcoming New York City band, TV/TV with hipster style pop rock that was too easy to fall in love with. They had just released a four-song EP, but stuck to older material, except for “Fire Island Freakout.”

The best was saved for last when In This Moment took the stage and gave fans a much needed metal escape. Front woman Maria Brink is endearing and tough all at the same time, with her frilly style dresses and her effortless screaming capabilities. She astounded listeners when she let out a battle cry and kept it going for quite some time.

This year’s tour grabbed my attention with the larger bands on tour, though I spent half the day at the smaller stages. It was a familiar feeling tour with most of the bands being those I’ve seen before, yet I was grateful for Warped Tour bringing them all together.