Vans Warped Tour Report
I had the luck to attend 5 dates of the Vans Warped tour in Europe: in Leopoldsburg (Belgium), at the Pukkelpop festival, in  Hamburg (De), in Minden (De) , in Ljubljiana (Slovenia) and in Bologna (Italy).
I've to say that the coolest I've seen was the one in Hamburg and Ljubljana, the shittiest unfortunately in Italy.

Pukkelpop festival (Belgium) 29 aug 1998
Pukkelpop was the best festival I've seen this summer, much better and richer than Zillo and Bizarre Festival. There were a lot of great bands there: from Monster Magnet to Green Day, from the VWT to Rancid, and also the Deftones, Mogwai, No means No (very very good), Rocket from the Crypt etc…
It was very difficult to see everyone and it was impossible to easily choose the concerts to attend because I would have liked to see all the groups there. As I knew I would have seen the VWT for more times, I chosed preferentially the groups I wouldn't see again, so for that time I've seen just H-Blockx, MXPX, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, No Use For A Name, Lagwagon , the Specials and Bad Religion.

I knew H-Blockx because they played in Roma 2 times and I enjoyed them a lot even if they are too much influenced by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers (Little Girl is a good example). They are cool live, also because the 2 singers have an heavy impact on the audience and they move very well together on stage. They sang a lot of new songs from Fly Eyes and also some old ones as Risin'high and Little girl.

Cherry Poppin' Daddies: It was the first time for me and I remained very surprised because they are very good and they play swing-bugy bugy- jive music, which hasn't anything to do with the classical punk-rock. The singer is a bomb on the stage and gets to inflate all the crowd.

No use for a name. I've lost a part of their concert because they played at the same time of the Deftones on the main stage (and who has seen the Deftones live knows how is great their show). First I thought they were the CIV but soon I realized that the CIV wouldn't have played. During the NU4N gig a lot of people made pogo and crowd surfing. Immediately after the Lagwagon started with Alien8, To all my friends and Making Friends. You know that the Double Plaidinum Album is overall about the friendship….NU4N and Lagwagon have a lot of real fans that adore them as a cult bands, with a lot of devotion.
MXPX: it was the second time I saw MXPX alive. Their sound is in between the Epitaph rec and the Lookout rec. music. They're funny and rich of charge even they've to grow up a little bit more.
The Specials: They're known in Italy because of an ice-cream advertising which soundtrack is "It's you". With It's you they started every concert. They purposed some old songs and some from the new album (I'm not afraid to be afraid, I'm just Faithful). They used to call people from the other bands to sing together some of their most famous songs….they know how to drag the audience and at Pukkelpop the slam dance and the crowd surfing was very violent during their performance. The singer is wonderful: I don't know how old is he but when he remained with just his pants, he showed the best body of the punk rock- ska scene!!!!!! anyway finally they came out: The Bad Religion. I belove them: I think they're the greatest, after Ramones, they made the punk rock history. Their music is higher, is one step beyond the other punk rock bands music, and not just because of the lyrics but also for the music. They have songs like A walk, Infected, American Jesus, Atomic garden, Along the way, Anastasia, Punk rock song etc that overcome any other band tracklist….they've class, experience, talent and their own unique BR style.
Yes, maybe technically some musicians from the other bands are better players but the BR have something more: the brightness that only the great groups have…the light of the ideas. That time they sang 2 old song ("Along the way " and "We're only gonna die") and than" The biggest killer in american history", "Mediocre Minds" (which is one of my favourite of the last album)," Infected", "Punk rock song" (but not Raise your voice)….60 minutes of pure BR sound.
Hamburg, St,Pauli (Germany)   2 sep 1998

The best VWT date! Hamburg is a cool and beautiful city! St. Pauli, the place where it was organized the stage of the VWT, is a cool place. You can find there a lot of music shops and places where to listen the alternative concert (as Avail the 1 9 1998 at the Roteflora, I don't mind about the political meaning of the social center but just of their importance in host the good music). St. Pauli people is cool! Cool is their sweatshirt with the skull and the bones of the pirates on. Cool is the St. Pauli stadium and the coolest VWT date was there.
That time there were 2 stage, because the bands played alternatively on both, so we hadn't to wait a lot in between one and the other group.. more or less 15 min…just the time to drink some beer. The first band was the Unwritten Law…what a surprise! I knew just some song from different compilation (Punk Sucks). They had just licensed their last album Unwritten law, which is UNIQUE! As they started to play the people begun to slam. Their tracklist contained: Harmonic, Teenage suicide (the perfect song of the album) California Sky, Superman, Cailin (another great song), Sorry,  Coffin text, Crazy poway kids (the last one). The singer, Scott Russo, is a frontman as few are: he sings, dances, runs on the stage, moves a lot, calls the audience's attention and inflates the people to do the pogo, concentrating all the attention on him and on the band. He's also a very very nice guy.
As all the great band all the components are at high level as Rob, Wade, Kim and Steve. They are very different from the other punk rock bands. In the punk rock music is very easy to be monochromatic, I mean it's easy to do very similar songs…they are coloured, their songs have a lot of musical ideas, not just a different sound for every song, but more sounds in the same song! Every track of the new album is rich of good musical intuitions and for that they'll be the future Green Day or Offspring in few time… they are a synthesis of Green Day and Bad Religion but with their own nice track of sadness and their own style. Check them out!!!!!

The second group was The Smooths followed by the Save Ferris, the Cherry Poppin Daddies and MXPX. It was very hard that time to stay in the frontline because all the people were waiting for the Die Toten Hosen and all their fans were occupying the first row (beating and kicking but I used to kick more to save my place…) so here they came the Die Toten Hosen: the apotheosis of the german fans….They were at the top of the excitement and started immediately to jump, to sing and  yell "Hosen Hosen". I knew just few songs of their set because I don't understand German at all and in Italy they're not known. Campino, the singer, is a great frontman, I've to admit this and I think is also one of that kind of myth very human and available with the fans. I've seen him visiting the sore fan in the infirmary after the concert asking about their physical conditions….few punk-rock stars do it.
They sang "Eine fur alles alles fur eine", and also others famous songs. I remained surprised because one third of their concert was maiden by cover songs….."Should I stay or should I go" by the Clash, an English soccer song (with the music from the Candle's waltz) and the people were happy the same….one of my friends told me that the cover of the Cuban song Guantanamera has the words changed in "I've seen a tant (???) in the mirror" which is a dirty expression (but I don't know exactly what it means….) anyway all the people were slamming and crowd surfing troughout Campino…I remained surprised.
After them come out NU4N, whose singer said (with a lot of irony) that they also were able to do covers…..so they made the Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" cover.
Funf Stern Deluxe were a shit for me. But because of ttheir music, maybe their lyrics are good... I don't know. Then played H-Blockx and the singer rip off his T-shirt and remained with his belly nude making the belly dance (very funny!)
Lagwagon started with "Alien8". The St.Pauli people were catched by them.
Pitchshifter: they're from UK, the singer is very good and he's used to make high jumps on the stage when he sings "Microwaved" their best song. But the other songs are normal…probably they have to grow up even if they have good ideas. After The Specials the Bad Religion came in. It was their best gig. The St.Pauli people sang, as a serenade, a soccer song for them…They remained surprised. I don't know if they understood what the audience was singing but it was great and they said that it was touching. As always they changed their tracklist and sang "Raise your voice" with Campino. This is an easy song but very funny. Campino moves a lot on the stage, jumping around while Greg Graffin interprets the songs using his face and his hands. Those two frontmen are totally different but they are very nice together.
Minden, Weserufer (Germany)  4 sep 1998

Why Minden? It's a good question for a foreigner. Minden is a nice little city close to Hannover. There is just one pub that remained open after 9 PM. It is also a rainy city, infact it rained all the time we stay there but during the gig. That time The Save Ferris started  the VWT than the Smooths, The Cherry Popping Daddies, H-Blockx, MXPX and the TERRORGRUPPE. The Terrorgruppe joined the VWT here and they were great! The singer was dressed with a tiger fur and jumped all the time. They sang "Amerika" and their greatest success. Even if they lacked of their official drummer, they got to inflate the people, who came from a lot of North Germany cities as Hanover, Hamburg, Bielefeld etc, and all were amazed. Also that time most part of the audience were waiting for the Die Toten Hosen. These fans were wilder and more violent than the ones I've met in Hamburg. They pushed a lot to be on the frontline to see Campino at 2 cm of distance, and because unfortunately that time the Toten Hosen were after my favourite groups , Unwritten Law and Bad Religion, I had to bear all that people jam not enjoying a lot the shows. It was a nightmare: I had to fight for my place all the time to not be spitted out.
The audience enjoyed a lot the UL and also that time they changed their tracklist and they made Cailin, Teenage suicide etc… Bad Religion played a daylight gig for 45 minutes. Very few for a gig. They sang "Along the way", "Infected", "Punkrock song", "The biggest killer in American history" and "Raise your voice" with Campino (The PANIC). Unfortunately I was so busy to avoid the people close to me to kill me, that I couldn't jump and have fun as always. So after them I decided to give up for Die Toten Hosen, because I can risk to die for the others but not for them, I said a lot of fu..you to some kind people around me (overall girls) and then I went around looking the several bands stands where I met Greg Hetson from BR, Scott and Robin from UL and my personal angel, , Max the Terrorgruppe roadie, who gave us the Pass to enter in the stage area. I've seen NU4N and Lagwagon on the stage with Greg Hetson, Brian Baker, The UL, Campino etc.. It was exceptional! The Lagwagon were the last band of the night and the people seemed become totally out of head for them, because the slam dancing and the crowd surfing were wild for all the 45 minutes of the gig.
I've seen for the first time the concert from another point of view: the band 's one, and I realized that the real show is maiden by the fans. The crowd moving is suggestive and impressing, all the people move at the same music as a unity. It was really emotioning.

When I was on the stage I was around to see who was there. I really was searching for Greg Graffin, my myth. As I wrote you, there were a lot of people from all the VWT bands but him. Behind me there was Campino and I thought how it was wrong at all to be there close to someone else myth and looking for another one…there were 3000 people who would die to stay in my place instead of me and I couldn't appreciate to have Campino 2 steps behind me, totally free and available. I waited for Greg G. all the Lagwagon performance hoping that HE would join the other member of the band who were there. After the gig, after all the people flowed out the Minden arena, we remained talking with Jesse from Lagwagon and our friend Max. I asked him some things about their music and their tour and I was very curious to know where they sleep, where they eat or have a shower during the VWT…He answered me that they're used to sleep on the coach while their personal driver take them to the next city, they have a lot of facilities as some catering society that cook for them every day in every city. After the gig they're used to chat a lot before going to sleep, drinking some beers to increase the desire to go to sleep.. During this meeting I was looking at the BR coach hoping to see my myth getting out, but at the second bus floor there was a TV which was blue-lightening the Greg G. head and another blond head with a lot of spikes. At first I thought it was a girl than I adjusted my sight and I recognized Campino. In that way I figured out that he'd never get out and that Campino was again on my way...sigh!
Ljubljana, Krizanke Aud. (Slovenia)12 sep 1998

100 Km from the last Italian east border line, 850 Km from Roma, my city. We drove all night from 5 am to 3 PM after the Avail concert in Rome. Ljublijana, in Slovenia, is a nice and quiet city. On Saturday all the shops are closed and it was very hard to find a place where buy a camera film. Before the gig we met Kim from UL who told us that a lot of bands had some problem at the frontier and that the gig would start with some delay. The gig started at 5 PM, (generally the time was 2-30 PM) with a lot of people who tried to get into the venue, a very beautiful amphiteathre, at the right time. I don't know what happened but it created a longline at the entrance with the people pushing to enter. It was so violent that I'd seen some people crying and all wetted. I think it happened because of the security. Infact they were violent for all the concert, hitting and beating the people for all the time…..I hate them. They're not ready for punk rock…
The VWT started with the Smooth , followed by MXPX, Cherry Poppin Daddies and Pitchshifter. We're waiting for Unwritten Law but their equipment was stopped at the customs so they played very late but all the crowd went to heaven at their performance! I tried to do some picture but there was a guy who kidding, put his hands on my objective, avoiding me to shoot some picture…I had to hit him with the camera to make him stop. Sometime the people think to be allowed to do everything just because they're in front of a foreigner (overall if a girl), so I was very happy when he put his hands on his face and stopped to boring me. At the end we made the peace. The UL sang for 30 min. changing their tracklist and making a cover of Guns of Brixton of the Clash. The people enjoyed a lot. Unfortunately they didn't play Cailin one of my favourite UL songs. Cailin is very nice, the lyric is about a little girl (I guess the Scoot Russo daughter) who revolutioned the singer's life. It's very simple but direct, truly and not…..banal at all. The music is also great: inside the track there are 4 or 5 different sounds…if you listened to it with attention you'll discover how is beautiful.
At the Specials show it was a jam session with the Smooth singer, the Pitchshifter and the UL: it looked like that all the VWT was on the stage singing. The Die Toten Hosen as always made some of their songs and some covers and more than the music, the point of attraction was Campino the singer with his natural attitude to do the punk rock star. He's very good in this but I'm still wondering why they didn't purpose songs from their repertoire instead of the cover. I think they're better than they show. As usual the Bad Religion show, as the Lagwagon and the NU4N one, was the most attended one. It was the first time they played in Ljubljiana. They made part of the No substance album and some old songs. At "We're only gonna die" Bobby, the drummer, left the drums to Wade, from Unwritten Law. He played very very well with a lot of energy. It seemed that the sounds had changed with his presence, becoming newer and cooler. That night Greg Hetson, had some problems with his guitar, he made some mistakes playing, it has to be happened something to him, don't know what but also the other members of the band remained surprised (he's a very good musician). It was funny because Jay Bentley offered to him his bass as to say "maybe it's better you play this tonight!" and they had to stop for 3-4  minutes because the guitar wasn't well accorded so Jay came close him to give help while Greg Graffin tried to entertain the crowd (it's like to convince an hungry lion's population to wait for the meal). After the last song Greg Graffin jumped down the stage to say goodbye to his fans from Ljublijana.
Bologna, Parco Nord (Italy) 15 sep 1998

It was the worst VWT date I've seen. The bands from Italy were the most boring you can find here, the organization was bad and a lot of bands were in delay for some problems at the borderline and nobody knew if all the bands would have played and which ones. In between the concerts there were gaps of 45-60 min. (generally they had to be of 15 min) so the people got bored. The place was a very large arena so the crowd was spreaded around…we were very disappointed: the I st VWT date in Italy has been a failure. At 2 PM started the H-Blockx, then the MXPX, The Smoothes, NU4N, Lagwagon, who played early because many bands were in delay. The UL used the instruments from NU4N, because they didn't have theirs. I was waiting for them because that it was their last gig for me this summer…great as always. I was very curious of the crowd's reaction in front of the Die Toten Hosen. There were some Campino fans from Germany, who supported them a lot. The DTH were a lot emotioned, overall Campino: he looked like embarrassed as he felt out of his natural place. That time they didn't give their best even if they played a cover of an old Italian song (Azzurro). Unfortunately the good feeling between the people and the group didn't come out…
Immediately after then come the Bad Religion, and honestly the gig was big but a little bit cold, as they were tired. During the concert Jay jumped down the stage to stop a fight between 2 guys. The music stopped for 5 min. so Greg and Jay sedated it sharing them in 2 different place. They played a lot of old songs but "Infected". At the 6th BR gig of this year I can say that I've never get bored, because their concerts are always different. This was the only good thing of the VWT in Bologna. I couldn't see the Specials because it was too late and we had to cross the middle Italy mountains (Apennine) and reached Roma doing 5 hours of highway. We finished our summer of concerts at 3 am of the 16 9 1998. At the end we attended 3 festivals (Zillo, Bizarre, and Pukkelpop), 5 VWT dates and 4 tournees (The Cure, Green Day, Man or Astroman? Prozac+) seeing 90 concerts in 30 days…
I can say that the best new bands are: Unwritten Law, Man or Astroman, Placebo and the italians Prozac+. And I think they'll be the greatest bands in few years.
Now it's waiting for us a poor autumn-winter music season in Rome because here the black-music rules, and the good punk-rock is few listened.

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