The Pittsburgh stop of Warped Tour was exactly one week ago. I’ve wanted to write about it every day since then (even though no one reads the music shit on my blog*) but instead I’ve been floating around, basking in the glow, like Jeffrey Dahmer after masticating his first Hispanic rump roast. Even people at work have noticed a difference—I guess because my smile hasn’t been fake all week. It’s nice that I don’t get made fun of there for going to Warped Tour like I do elsewhere, you know, because I’m supposed to be “too old” for things like that. I have bitterness, can you tell?
(*I’m going to interview Henry about his Warped experience, which will probably be more appealing to people.)
I’ve had my ticket since last December, when there was a holiday pre-sale. That’s how 100%-without-a-doubt I am that I will be attending this thing every year. It’s my Christmas, that one day that gets me through. Henry and I have gone to a lot of music festivals together and I am known to miserably complain about the heat and the crowds, and we almost always end up breaking up. Coachella ’04 was so bad that I actually have large time frames of it blacked out in my mind.
However, Warped Tour is where Henry is pretty good about not being a puckering asshole because he knows how happy that day makes me. (Although this year we did have one or two snippy moments, but they were short-lived and stemmed from the fact that he wasn’t kissing the stage that Dance Gavin Dance plays upon.) And I never complain there. This year, it was already in the nineties at 10:00am when we were standing in line to get in. The heat index was over 100. Even just standing there, I could feel waterfalls of sweat cascading down my back. And I never stopped smiling and giddily elbowing Henry.
I am a kid in many ways, but let’s face it—being in a pit is not something I can handle these days. I’m pretty content standing a ways back from the stage and aggressive kids, but there are certain bands that I break policy for and try to get as close as I can without putting myself in the line of fire. Of Mice and Men is one of those bands. Henry was originally right behind me, but by the end of their first song, I turned around and he was a few feet further away. By the end of their second song, I could only barely make out his bandanna in the crowd behind me. By the end of their set, I couldn’t see him at all and had to wait for the crowd to clear out.
“Yeah, this was close enough for me,” he said when I found him a few seconds later standing alone, out of sight of the stage, and looking aurally scarred.
I was smashed up against unlimited sweating bodies near the barricade and I know it must have been hot because the sweat never stopped dripping down my face, but the heat was the last thing on my mind. When Austin Carlile said “jump,” I jumped. I almost cried, I was so happy in that moment. Months of stress and tension melted away by Austin’s screaming. This is why I love bands with screaming: it matches what I already have in my head. The other night at work, I tried to explain to Barb the different kinds of screaming. At first she seemed interested, but by the end her eyes were glazed. I could talk about this shit for hours, which is probably why no one ever asks me questions about it.
I don’t hate anyone at Warped Tour, not even that Ginger kid right there. I’m all Free Love and shit.
My legs were shuddering like sheet metal by the time Of Mice and Men were done. I felt like I was tweaking for real and I couldn’t quit smiling. This is why I keep doing this year after year. I had a conversation the other day on Facebook with an old high school friend who said he’s afraid of the day when he realizes he’s that old guy who shouldn’t be at the show. But for me, I don’t give a shit how old I am. As long as music makes me feel this way, I will keep going. I don’t care if I’m in a fucking HoverRound.
On the way to the next stage, I yelled to Henry, “And it doesn’t even seem that hot out here!” Henry looked at me with full-on incredulity as he panted like a dehydrated pitbull chained out back. What? I felt fine.
It was apparently hot enough for some of the local news stations to do the weather live at Warped Tour, though.
If you’ve been reading this blog for more than like, a day, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that the band I was most excited to see was Dance Gavin Dance. I mean, I could have left right after they played at 1:15 and been OK with it. The first thing I do every year after I finally make it through the gates is rush to find a schedule to make sure I don’t miss my favorite bands on the tour that year. I will never, ever in a million years forget the sense of loss I felt at the 2007 Warped Tour in Cincinnati when I ran over to the Inflatable, only to see that Chiodos (this was back before Craig Owens’ head burst open like a pinata stuffed full of fame and megalomania) was the first band to go on at 11:00. It was, at the point, noon. It was also the point where I completely wrote off Christina’s sister, whose fault it was that we didn’t get there on time because she spent a thousand minutes in a fucking WALGREENS before we officially left that morning.
And this is why I go with Henry now. I don’t fuck around when it comes to Warped Tour. I know what I’m wearing the night before. I know when I’m waking up. I know what I’m eating for breakfast and when I’m leaving. And Henry is pretty good about complying with all of this. I will not go with anyone else. I do not cater to anyone else. I run a well-oiled machine that no one wants to fuck with.
Anyway, back to Dance Gavin Dance. Everything else I did that day was planned accordingly around their set time. I mean, I put them even above D.R.U.G.S., Craig Owens’ new band, and we all know how much I love Craig (although that love has been starting to wane lately). The thing with Dance Gavin Dance is that they’re not instantly palpable to most people. Adults, especially. Henry hates them (though I think he’s grown immune to them over the years). They have a screamer, but they’re not really all that heavy, musically. They have an extremely underrated drummer and guitarist. They’re definitely not metal, and lately they’ve kind of veered toward the prog-rock scope of things, with even slight hints of funk here and there. They’re kind of frenetic, which I think must appeal to me on a subconscious level, because it feels like what my brain would sound like if it could talk: schizophrenic. How else can I explain Dance Gavin Dance?
Oh yeah. Jonny Craig, provider of clean vocals and a million scene teen-heartthrob fantasies. If it were up to me, my entire bedroom would be covered in Jonny Craig posters, but it’s Henry’s room too and I actually do have a small ounce of respect for him somewhere. (You’d never know it by the way I’ve made him keep all of his belongings in boxes stored in the attic, basement and garage since he moved in with me in 2002. He claims this is convenient for him because when he eventually leaves me, everything but his clothes will already be packed, and he doesn’t really have much of those considering I’ve thrown 80% of his sock collection in the garbage.) A ginger has never been so hot to me before, but I blame this solely on the fact that he has a voice specifically designed to hit the g-spot and he’s a huge douchebag. That love/hate thing is hot. And really, what girl doesn’t secretly wish to be treated like shit.
Sometimes I worry that Jonny’s voice is going to get me pregnant.
(I just literally spent the next 6 minutes staring through the computer screen, thinking about Jonny Craig. These things happen when Henry isn’t here to keep me in check.)
Um, OK. So Dance Gavin Dance played on one of the stages under the ampitheater, which was hugely displeasing to me. Those stages are hard to get close to because there is very little empty space before the seating starts and I definitely don’t like the sensation of being trapped, so Henry and I grabbed seats a few rows back. I wasn’t able to get any pictures but I also wasn’t really worrying about my camera considering I was barely able to keep myself upright when they started playing.
There is one word that Jonny sings that inexplicably makes me fold in half and crumble into a pile of pheromones and Erin Luvs Jonny notebook graffiti: “Wonder.” I have no idea what it is about the way that word slides off his tongue, but I grip Henry so hard every time and smother my annoying sex sounds into his bicep, while he shrugs away from me disgustedly.
Can you sense a theme here?
Dance Gavin Dance disgusts Henry.
Erin disgusts Henry
Erin listening to Dance Gavin Dance drowns Henry in a barrel of his own filthy disgust.
I tried to get Henry to fist pump during “Turn Off the Lights, I’m Watching Back to the Future,” but he fought me. In the end, his pocket-stuffed hand won. We had a brief argument afterward because I was mad at him for not paying attention to them (he kept looking over his shoulder during their set, which is the rudest) and he was all, “I STOOD UP FOR THE WHOLE THING DIDN’T I” and I guess that’s progress considering he’s old and prone to collapsing spontaneously. Every time Jonny would talk between songs, Henry’s mouth would creep into that same exact disgusted sneer that I know so well. Jonny and I must definitely be meant to be if we both inspire the same look of appallation from Henry.
“I think his eyes got closer together,” Henry yelled at one point. And: “I don’t like how he keeps touching his crotch.” That’s because in Henry’s eyes, Jonny Craig is a predator. If it wasn’t 1,000 degrees, Henry probably would have protectively draped his arm around me.
Never before has a man made me want to vomit and swoon in tandem. Oh, Jonny Craig. You’re so sleazy but with 6 condoms, a before-and-after dip in a Purell pool and doctor’s proof you at least don’t have AIDS, I would 99.9% do you. (And then pray I don’t get pregnant with a ginger baby.)
I never hold my breath when making my friends listen to them, because no one my age ever does and it’s always the screaming that does it. But just try and focus on Jonny’s clean vocals. This is one of my favorites:
For the rest of the day, I would periodically rest my head on Henry’s shoulder and murmur, “I can’t believe we just saw Dance Gavin Dance. I miss them now.” He would give me that sneer, of course, but I know deep down he was all, “OMG I JUST SAW JONNY CRAIG. KEEP YOUR COMPOSURE, HANK, YOU OLD DOG YOU.”
Terrible Things were not terrible. Coincidentally, I used their album ad in Alternative Press for the letter “T” day at Chooch’s school. It was a picture of a boy and girl having a tea party. (With a burning house in the background.)
It started raining after 5 and everyone fled for cover. Henry and I stayed at the front of the stage and continued watching Sharks. It’s just rain, you guys. These people complained all day about the heat and had no problem getting drenched at the misting stations, but when nature provides relief? OMG run. The rain only lasted for about a half hour and it cut the heat for the rest of the day. It was perfect.
Bands we saw that day that no one cares to read anymore about:
- Go Radio (good way to start the day.)
- Grieves with Budo (high point of the day!)
- August Burns Red
- Of Mice and Men
- Dance Gavin Dance
- Big B
- Sick of Sarah
- Sharks (so good)
- A Skylit Drive
- Terrible Things
- Stephen Jerzak
- Larry and His Flask (more Henry’s speed than anything else that day)
- D.R.U.G.S. (Henry was upset that Craig dyed his hair darker. OK, Us Weekly.)
- Moving Mountains
- Middle Class Rut (Henry had this moment of excited realization when they played their radio single)
- The Wonder Years
- Set Your Goals
Set Your Goals came on at 8, and they were the last band we saw that day. During their set, I looked at Henry and started crying. He rolled his eyes and shook his head, knowing it was because it was almost time to leave. I feel like I wait all year for this one day and it’s over so fast. (If you ask Henry, he will say it’s the longest day of the year.) Being there makes me so happy, breaks down my walls, lets me live. I can’t believe it’s been a whole week now. I wish I could go to every single one.
Oh, and I’m totally getting married at Warped Tour. Just as soon as I find a groom. MAYBE IT’S YOU.