Punk summer camp Warped delivers its familiar goods

Shayley Bourget, a singer with the band Of Mice and Men, surfed the crowd at the end of his band’s set yesterday at the Vans Warped Tour in Mansfield. Shayley Bourget, a singer with the band Of Mice and Men, surfed the crowd at the end of his band’s set yesterday at the Vans Warped Tour in Mansfield. (Dina Rudick/Globe Staff)
By Scott McLennan
Globe Correspondent / July 14, 2010

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MANSFIELD — When the well-scrubbed rock of Versaemerge can lead directly to the scabby punk of the Casualties and nobody minds the starkness of the contrast, there’s only one place you must be: the Vans Warped Tour.

The 2010 edition of the 16-year-old summer festival pulled into the Comcast Center yesterday. Five stages were set up in an area usually reserved for parking, while the amphitheater’s main stage was halved into performance areas where music ping-ponged from set to set.

Though often labeled a punk event, Warped has long been reaching into any genre where there are bands that don’t have pretense and are just fine hammering out half-hour sets stripped of any elaborate showmanship bar the occasional band banner. Prestige is left at the door as bands are assigned performance times by the luck of the draw, meaning some of the more anticipated acts are done before lunch.

But Warped is perhaps the most fan-friendly musical event out there. The dozens of participating bands have tents where they meet fans, and the festival layout is given to lots of singers traveling from stage into the crowd, an activity the more punk-rooted acts such as the Bouncing Souls and Far From Finished seemed to relish.

The day had an explosive start to it with early sets by Dillinger Escape Plan and Bring Me the Horizon, two bands that hew to the heavier side of the rock spectrum.

Bands with local ties also captured Warped Nation’s collective attention, none more so than Four Year Strong. The Worcester-bred band is a Warped success story, growing its audience as it too has matured from tiny side stages to being a main attraction this year. And Vanna, another Worcester band, had so many gathered around its stage that it caused a traffic jam.

Warped is often called punk-rock summer camp, but it’s also a bit of summer school as younger fans can get a load of veteran acts such as Face to Face and older fans can stay current gauging the popularity of Attack Attack and Motion City Soundtrack.

Though Warped is run with military precision, there is still a good deal of unpredictability to the proceedings. Those given to wandering the grounds could encounter anything from the moody solo musings of Gardening Not Architecture to the country-blues hootenanny of Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band.

Warped routinely plugs genre holes, this year bringing the Mighty Regis to fulfill the Celtic-punk tastes; Reel Big Fish to handle ska; Mike Posner to broach hip-hop; and Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds to deliver reggae. Warped also resurrected Sum 41 and Andrew W.K., alt-rock heroes of yore jazzed by their warm receptions.

Fishbone’s Angelo Moore has been a tour regular for years, popping up with all manner of weird ideas, this time presenting a funky, soul-jam ensemble that got the crowd so worked up that it booed the festival when the band’s set had to end. But what’s a punk fest without a little contempt for authority?

For sheer entertainment value, few could touch All American Rejects, who dirtied up their string of Top 40 hits with raunchy stage presence.

Brief bouts of rain did not ruin the fest, a testament to the quality of Warped’s ability to serve its audience.

Scott McLennan can be reached at

Vans Warped Tour Comcast Center, Mansfield