Some rock music is not meant to be enjoyed while sitting down. And so, when the annual pop-punk extravaganza known as the Vans Warped Tour arrives at Nissan Pavilion next week, the action will be in the concourse and parking lots that surround the seated amphitheatre. Less a traditional concert than a skater boy's dream block party, the all-day event features more than 50 bands on a handful of stages, merchandise and demonstration booths galore and a sense of camaraderie among teens who love the sounds of emo, alternative, hard-core and other edgier parts of the musical spectrum.
From the skillfully crafted smart guy rage of The Offspring ("Why Don't You Get a Job?") and the furious Celtic folk of Dropkick Murphys ("Barroom Hero") to the delicate piano-driven melodies of Something Corporate ("Constantine"), there's something for almost everyone at Warped, including the cool parents who, after dropping the kids off, choose to hang out in the "reverse day care" area.
Consider Mae, for example. The Norfolk quintet isn't afraid to express tender longings and employs a sophisticated production scope on "The Everglow," its second full-length release. The CD art evokes a children's picture book and offers lots of hidden details that connect the music and the artwork. The band, which has previously toured with Simple Plan and fellow Warped stars Something Corporate, rocks hard, but rocks with heart.
Fall Out Boy isn't a he, but a them -- Andy Hurley, Pete Wentz, Patrick Stump and Joe Trohman -- who took their name from Radioactive Man's sidekick on "The Simpsons." The four won over area fans at a recent edition of Fairfax's own mini-Warped, the Flipside Festival, and now Fall Out Boy is flying high with a genuine hit single, "Sugar, We're Going Down." That song can be heard on the band's recently released CD, "From Under the Cork Tree," which debuted in the top 10 of Billboard's album charts.
Skindred, meanwhile, has spent two months at No. 1 on the reggae chart with its debut album "Babylon." Cable networks Fuse and MTV2 played the band's first single "Nobody," and the CD has sold more than 160,000 copies so far, thanks to relentless touring in the past year with the likes of Korn and Papa Roach.
There's even a band that some critics have praised as the Beach Boys -- or Blink-182 -- of Christian rock. Though Relient K did, indeed, record its first three albums for the Christian market Gotee label and received a Grammy nomination in 2003 for best gospel rock album ("Two Lefts Don't Make a Right . . . But Three Do"), this quintet from Canton, Ohio, can tear up the stage with the best of them.
"MMHMM," the band's new album from Gotee/Capitol Records, has been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, the band's second CD to do so. A nonstop touring act, including travels with Good Charlotte and Simple Plan, the guys are TV favorites as well, now that the video for the album's first single, "Be My Escape," is moving up on MTV's "Total Request Live" countdown and the band has been invited to perform on the late-night talk shows.
As the saying goes, it couldn't happen to nicer guys. Since they first met as school pals and turned a local java joint into a homegrown rock club, the members of Relient K, led by vocalist songwriter Matthew Thiessen, bring laugh-out-loud humor and sincere emotion to their optimistic, pop-injected punk.
And, as they say on the commercials, that's not all! Also on the bill are My Chemical Romance, Spin magazine cover boys and nominees for four MTV video music awards; Flipside Festival veterans Motion City Soundtrack; buzz band the Transplants, including former members of Rancid; and literally dozens of other acts drawn from national, regional and local talent.
-- MARIANNE MEYER
Nissan Pavilion is off of Interstate 66, Exits 43 or 44. General admission tickets are $26 through Ticketmaster. The event will take place rain or shine. Parking gates open at 10 a.m. and venue gates one hour later.
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