Totally twisted 

Warped celebrates punk's many flavors

It's safe to say the summer concert season is finally in full swing now that Metallica's nu-metal troops have invaded Turner Field. The next three-ring circus scheduled to pass through town is the Warped Tour. And once again, event sponsor Vans has pulled out all the stops, with seven stages of entertainment to entice the MTV/skater/mall-punk crowds. Whether it's our business or not, CL has taken the liberty of pigeonholing some of the tour's featured acts (mostly for our own pleasure).

Scream 4

Ever just want to let out a shriek? Then you and these Warped newbies should make a nice match. Vendetta Red frontman Zach Davidson mugs like Roger Daltrey and wails like he's being stabbed. He and the Used's Bert McCracken take the suddenly mainstream art of emo and shatter eardrums with it -- hence the term "screamo." McCracken is the marketing genius who loved Kelly Osbourne all the way to a spot in MTV's rotation.

S.T.U.N. plays the post-grunge angle, combining Zack De La Rocha vocals and Jane's Addiction bass lines. On the surface, Glassjaw appears to be a suitable replacement for the sorely missed At the Drive-In, but less-dynamic songwriting and singer Daryl Palumbo's recurring intestinal problems (he suffers from Crohn's Disease) have stalled the Long Island outfit.

Party-music purveyor and "Jackass" guest Andrew W.K. has moved from Ozzfest to Warped. And he will no doubt be wearing the same white undershirt and pants he's worn all year, while partying as hard as he says he does in his songs.Sweet-and-low punk

Oh what Blink-182 hath wrought. As usual, the oversized photocopy machine that is the music industry has found plenty of failed skaters and general losers happy to vent their idiotic musings over paint-by-number hooks. (Joe Strummer and Joey Ramone must be spinning like rotisserie chickens in their graves.) Real punks bitch, moan (occasionally) and bark. Mest and Simple Plan whine, and crib lyrics from Avril Lavigne. Call it cotton-candy, soft-serve punk. The only semi-anomaly here are All-American Rejects, whose music has more in common with power-pop than punk.

Old reliables

Then there's "anchors" of the fest, the aging parents of the nu-punk spawn. Rancid and Face to Face have been around for years, never really selling out, rarely abandoning the standard three-chords-and-angst formula that is punk. Then again, neither has done anything unique, either -- but such is the duality of punk. The band that just may save the day is the Dropkick Murphys. The Bostonian septet has somehow managed to brew up a blistering concoction of punk and Irish traditional music.Look, Mom, we're famous!

The bands Warped organizers are surely banking on are the suddenly mainstream warhorses. The leader of the pack is AFI, who've recently come into the spotlight after signing a deal with Dreamworks. For eight years or so, they kicked and screamed their way through the indie-punk scene, penning songs that fall into umpteen subcategories, including hardcore, goth and emo. Like AFI, Less Than Jake has been on the circuit for years, peddling third-wave ska to high-school kids across America. Their new album, Anthem is more of the same -- though it does find them leaning more toward guitars than horns. The Ataris also pander to the kids. Everything about them is derivative, from their crunchy power-pop punk to the plethora of pop-culture references in their lyrics.

nikhil.swaminathan@creativeloafing.com


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