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Literature

The Youth is Warped

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Some people can find their calling in life through simple thought and contemplation. But others don’t know, and won’t know, until they are put into the situation that makes or breaks them. It was last summer that I found out not what my calling is, but what I know my calling is not.

Fresno is a hot place. (The kind of place where you can crack and egg on the sidewalk and have it burn before you can break out the ketchup.) Add a couple thousand sweaty adolescents, and you’ve got yourself an all day rock concert. Vans Warped Tour is not your mother’s rock concert. The speakers weren’t blaring Simon & Garfunkel or Janis Joplin, no Jefferson Aeroplane or The Who. Instead heavy metal, punk and ska filled every corner of this egg frying parking lot with acoustical chaos. There was no way to walk three feet without being rubbed against by a handful of people drenched in sweat and alcohol. Why I thought this would be a good experience I don’t know, but I decided to do my part and participate in what my generation calls “pop culture.”

My friend works for a non-profit organization called Invisible Children and had been touring with these guys for all of summer. I happened to be in the area, and he happened to have two all-access backstage passes for the day. I showed up with my cousin around noon, deciding to skip out on the first half knowing that no “good” bands would be playing. Even with shorts, sandals and a tank top, the sun was already baking my skin.

My friend, who we will call Geoff, showed us around and eventually led us to what every teenage girl dreams about: the tour buses. We paraded on and off of numerous buses full of guys no older than myself sitting in air-conditioned compartments playing video games, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. The more liberal buses were full of middle-aged rock stars with girls on both sides, listening to Simon & Garfunkel, and eating pot brownies. I met some of the biggest names in this genre of music, (just to toot my own horn I’ll list off a couple,) Underoath, Bayside, Alexisonfire, All Time Low, Chiodos, Flogging Molly, and the Millionaires just to name a few. I had never heard of any of these bands, nor did I have any interest in meeting them. However, I did have great interest in flaunting my all-access pass in front of the normal concertgoers and telling them that I was just hanging out with Bad Catholicism. When they all gave me strange looks, I corrected myself. The bands actual name was Bad Religion.

After meeting the pretentious of the pretentious, I decided to blend in with the crowd and listen to what this place had to offer. I tried to spend more than 10 minutes at each stage giving every band an equal opportunity to prove to me that they are more than men just wearing eyeliner. But one after another, they all failed at being respectable human beings in my book. While I understand that musicians have always been outspoken about politics and morals, some are definitely more educated than others. This particular day was just a clusterfuck of uniformed individuals using their fame as a soapbox to preach their dogmas. This confirmed my prior judgments about the people there, so I decided to head back and hang out with Geoff for a while.

People like non-profits. But teenagers love non-profits with cool t-shirts, especially from American Apparel. They eat that shit up. So while I was able to hang out with Geoff and hear some of his stories that happened over tour (which include multiple bar fights, relations that could possibly end in pregnancy or disease, and the police,) he was also working the booth set up for his organization. You would think people would approach us to find out information about the non-profit and what they advocate for. Instead, I heard more questions about where the shirt is from, if it’s from American Apparel, and if they could have my phone number. I gladly gave out all of that information. I wasn’t troubled with the fact that underage girls had my phone number, but I was troubled with the fact that these kids were buying into something they have no knowledge about. This was definitely the theme of the day.

By the end I had learned a few things. (1. Do not wear a tank top if you plan on being outside all day, copious amounts of sun block, and sandals leave an awkward tan line. (2. The eggs definitely smelled better than I did by the end of the day. (3. Music is not what it used to be. (4. If the youth are the leaders of tomorrow, I hope the public education system does not fail us. (5. Fame does not warrant one to preach about politics. After learning all of these things after my daylong experience, I decided that my calling is not to be in a place like that. While it’s suiting for some and necessary for others, I don’t believe that I have any place in that scene. Instead, I should be where my art is appreciated. I should be in a place with like-minded individuals who are educated and speak of what they know. I believe I’ve found a place like this. Institutions for higher education are a great place to start. If, and when, the people I was surrounded by enter into such a place, perhaps they’ll appreciate it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dulce permalink
    March 18, 2010 8:23 am

    Being in an institute of higher learning does not guarantee more people will know what they’re talking about. It’s just that people will have more ammo to back up their misinformed ideals and sound more convincing than your average inarticulate rock star would.

    The whole vibe of this article sounded awfully pretentious. It’s ironic seeing how you were scoffing at these people for the very same reasons.

    Warped Tour is a scene kid’s paradise. If you don’t like metalcore/post hardcore/screamo/anything with high pitched screaming in which the genre title ends in -core I’m pretty sure you’ll be miserable. Oh and the occasional washed up middle aged punk band will surface every once and a while.

    • March 19, 2010 12:38 am

      Thanks for the response. It’s definitely a pretentious piece, but most of it was fictional as it was an essay for class.

      While I meant some of the things I said, I also exaggerated much of it.

      I never said the scene shouldn’t exist, in fact I said that it belongs to some people. Just not me.

      I think it’s great that non-profits are having a presence at places like this, but just the way that youth today buy into consumerism without knowledge was my actual point.

      I’m not blameless for any of this.

      My friend Geoff is a great guy. He’s doing great things. And I’ll admit, I was jealous he got to hang out with these people. But I don’t know if I could do it for the rest of my life.

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