Ah yes, the Vans Warped Tour. As the date approaches in our town, a familiar mixed bag of emotions comes over us.   For those, say perhaps, in their quarter life comes a series of questions to ponder: What is 3OH!3, and why is it on the lineup - because it sounds like an energy drink. Is it really worth entering the pit, just to risk having a pimply kid impale me in the jugular with his pyramid-studded jacket? Is this the day I feel like getting a full can of Monster thrown at my face? Maybe…but only if I can catch it in time and drink it like a champ. Sweet victory. If the benefits outweigh the costs whilst answering these philosophical questions, then like me, you’re halfway out the door to get your astronomically priced ticket (remember the good old days when it was 15 bucks?) It’s easy to predetermine all the happenings of Warped Tour – all of the above scenarios end up being true in one way or another. Nothing is a shocker and honestly, you roll with it and it’s just not that bad - which may be the best reason Warped Tour is likely to continue coming around in the future.

Day three of the tour took place at Seaside Park, Ventura – right on the beach providing the perfect backdrop and weather for a full day of rock and roll and sunburns. The several stages of the tour offered enough volume and the perfectly appropriate punk playlists to give surfers an eclectic soundtrack to their California Street session.

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The day started for Flak and I with the Swingin’ Utters – a band certainly not unfamiliar with the Warped Tour stage. Once the then-named Johnny Peebucks & the Swingin' Utters moved from their base in Santa Cruz to San Francisco, they recorded under several different labels and landed themselves in the lineup of the first annual Warped Tour. Even after nearly 25 years of playing and touring, they didn’t skip a beat and were a highlight of the day. If you appreciate the bands that make you think of the good ol’ days of Warped Tour, do yourself a favor and take a gander at this band. Grab their Limited Edition 7” vinyl EP released by Fat Wreck Chords or check them out this month at Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara on July 11th.

Along that same vein was Face to Face – the familiar and always entertaining punk band that formed in 1991 and also no stranger to the Warped Tour stage. Their most dedicated fans, and even new admirers alike, all huddled and packed in tight to catch them up-close while belting out maybe their most well known tune, “Disconnected”. Their energy was contagious, and the fact that it was radiating from 40-something year old “silver foxes” just made their set that much better.

Among others sharing the main stage were We The Kings and Andrew W.K. Known to put on an incredible live show, Andrew W.K. was donned in all white, with pale jeans and a white self-titled shirt – it’s always refreshing to know when artists are fans of themselves. With his long dark hair hanging down over his face he ran up and down the stage, roaring out his songs in true fashion. He not only opened but also closed his set with his well known hit “Party Hard.” We The Kings front man Travis Clark entered stage barefoot and grinning ear to ear with a wrap on his right forearm from a brand new tattoo. Written on the palm of his left hand was “LOVE” – his own work of art, no doubt. They played several songs off their newest record, Smile Kid, released at the very end of 2009. Their mostly younger, but very devoted, fan base belted out the songs and clapped along, showing their appreciation by making a ‘W’ with both hands through most of the set.

Closing out the day, we hit the small Ernie Ball stage to catch Eyes Set to Kill, a band started by sisters Alexia and Anissa Rodriguez. Hailing from Phoenix, AZ this hard metal chick-led band started in 2003 and has since changed around its members to form the 5 piece band it is today. Eyes Set to Kill has been featured as one of Alternative Magazine’s “100 Bands You Need to Know” and just released a new record “Broken Frames” in June 2010.

So sure, the Monster can ended up grazing my face and nailing someone else, but you get up and keep up your two step. The developing bruise is either a battle wound you’re proud of, or your consolation prize - depending on whether you feel spending your hard earned lawn mowing allowance was worth it. Put your reservations aside and get in the pit – the pyramid studs aren’t as harmful as they look (and P.S. – if you’re that much of a sissy lala, then you don’t belong at Warped Tour).