St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Email editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message


Old school style

The veteran acts sharing the stages of the Vans Warped Tour proved they could rock a crowd of fans born long after their heyday.

Published June 24, 2006

Maybe a hundred people formed the pogo equivalent of a conga line, bouncing frenetically to a ska band. A few yards away, hardly anyone was paying attention to a very average nu-metal band, but its members headbanged and scowled as if they were playing to a packed arena.

Kids with the biggest mohawks this side of 1979 relaxed on the seawall or tried to escape the heat in the patches of shade offered by scattered palm trees. On the two main stages, such veteran acts as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, the Buzzcocks and Helmet were showing the younger bands how to do it right.

Nearby, a representative for Washington Mutual looked bored and forlorn; it seemed no one at the Vans Warped Tour wanted information about bank accounts.

The Vans Warped Tour, which stopped by St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park on Friday (with stops in the Miami and Orlando areas coming up this weekend) has a reputation as the biggest and best traveling punk rock show in the country. Actually, this year's edition offers a modicum of musical diversity. Danceable but aggressive rock dominated, but there was plenty of lighter fare to be found.

Teens and 20-somethings dominated the crowd. But the demographics were surprisingly diverse. A kid about 10 years old took in Helmet, an influential punk-metal band that played a powerful set.

Martha and Bob Cooke had come up from Sarasota, accompanying their granddaughter Alex Cooke. "It's a great place for people-watching," Martha Cooke said.

Her husband said there had been one act they enjoyed: "There was a 50-year-old singer up here before," he said, apparently referring to Joan Jett.

Even the younger people in the audience appreciated the more established acts. Matt Helmer, who came up from Bradenton to play with his punk band, the In-Crowd, on one of the smaller stages, said Jett was his favorite of the dozens of acts at the show.

It wasn't the only indication that the younger people at the show appreciated their punk heritage. They came in T-shirts that proclaimed allegiance to the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, Bikini Kill and other bands that started before they were born.

But they knew the newer bands too. They knew the words to songs by relatively obscure bands like Catch 22, a New Jersey ska band that played an exuberant set on a side stage; Plain White T's, a great power pop band from Chicago; Against Me, a punk band from Gainesville that has been getting rave reviews from the mainstream press; and Raise the Day, which rocked the main stage crowd with pop punk.

Plenty of local bands played the smaller stages. But with so many acts, some of them (including Helmer's In-Crowd) drew hardly any attention despite energetic sets.

[Last modified June 24, 2006, 06:28:28]

Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters