A sweaty horde descended on RFK Stadium's parking lot Tuesday to accept punk rock's summertime calling card, the Warped Tour. The extravaganza, besides featuring simultaneous music on five stages with what seemed like hundreds of bands, offered "extreme" athletes jumping very, very high with (and sometimes falling from) sundry objects, including skateboards, motorcycles and bikes.
Those not interested in moshing or virtual surfing could browse the band/corporate merchandise area (least visited booth: Speed Stick deodorant), visit Fun City Tattoo Land and Piercing (potential hot fashion trend: piercing your ears with dice--ow!) or have a fortune told with runes. Wisely, no alcohol was for sale.
Though the official program declared it "punk rock summer camp," Warped '99 was notable for its non-punk bands; in fact, two hip-hop-based acts stole the limelight. Warped Tour rules allocate each band 30 minutes, so there was time to indulge the plentiful hybrids: Royal Crown Revue (punk swing), Dropkick Murphys (traditional Irish plus Black Flag), the Living End (Stray Cats plus Ramones) and Lunachicks (spastic plus spastic). Less Than Jake contributed a goofy set, Sevendust a brutish one. Fittingly, the bands that played the final sets work closest to the tour's skate-punk heritage. Both Pennywise and Blink 182 occasionally recall seminal Southern Californians Agent Orange and Descendents. The kids saw authentic old-school in Suicidal Tendencies' Mike Muir.
L.A. collective Black Eyed Peas played the most interesting set. With serious vibe, they dropped by the intersection of Blue Note jazz and hip-hop and appeared before a merciless sun had sapped many people's strength. The biggest crush of the day was to catch a glimpse of the white-punk-on-dope-of-the-moment, Eminem. Appearing as Slim Shady, he and sidekick Proof imparted a set that, by recent accounts, was relatively stable: He finished his raps, none of the objects hurled at him connected, and each time he wobbled into the roiling pit, something besides the asphalt caught him. Aside from a cold drink of water, what else could today's punker want for 25 bucks?