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Mike Shea takes on Seattle -- er, George -- The Gorge -- er, something...

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Aug. 24th, 2007 | 01:12 pm
music: Black Francis - Test Pilot Blues

THE GORGE, George, Washington
(seriously, that’s the way the map reads)

Back in the 1980s when things were more simple and we all knew the Soviets were the cause of all of our ills, a doctor and his wife up in Washington state wanted to start a winery, so they bought a little chunk of land out where the great Columbia River ran through the canyons. After a while, they figured it would be cool to have bands play while their customers sat around and drank themselves into a stupor, so they started throwing concerts on this bluff overlooking the glacially grooved-out and scenically awe-inspiring gorge. By 1988, Bob Dylan was playing at the site and within no time at all, after the doctor sold the land out for a nice mint, House of Blues Concerts (then Clear Channel/Live Nation after they swallowed them whole) upgraded the place into a full-fledged, 20,000 capacity concert arena that has been voted “Best Outdoor Amphitheatre” three years in a row by Pollstar.

ANYHOO-

For this very reason, the “Gorge” date on Warped Tour is considered the dessert or the appetizer for the tour, depending on which way the tour is routed (west to east or east to west). None of the other dates can give the musicians a sense of peace and a major place to party than this spot. So, in a major way, it contradicts itself entirely but, then again, that’s the music industry for ya.

Since jumping onto the tour, everyone around me kept telling me how much I was going to enjoy going to the Gorge. “You’re gonna love it,” “It’s so beautiful up there” and “It’s always a major party there” were the typical statements made by bands and crew alike. I’ve come to realize that the last line there (“It’s a major party there”) is a bit incorrect though because it’s not just at the Gorge date that the parties happen. No, no, no, no.

In fact, Warped Tour is really two events on one day- every day on the blasted tour. There’s the concert that happens during the day, and then the party at night—or parties, plural.

ANYHOO-

So when I woke up at 6:45 in the freakin’ morning (way too early for me, but considering where we were ending up that day, I wanted to get up and see the sunrise but already missed it by about a half-hour), I looked out the bus windows and we had parked right on the edge of the bluff, so we over-looked probably the best view of the canyon you could get at the venue.

After breakfast and helping set up the tent and booth, I ran around the place to grab some scenic pics before 13,000 Warped fans showed up and cluttered the view (and grounds) and destroyed the Porta-Potties. (Even those were pretty awe-inspiring as one of the bluffs were smack in center view when you stepped out of the door. Eat that, Jacobs Field.)

ANYHOO-

Two things happen when you get about 3/4 the way through the actual tour dates of Warped Tour: 1) everyone starts getting really crabby because they’re tired and want to go home, and 2) the buses and trucks start breaking down. On the way to Utah after the Kansas City gig, Kevin’s bus (the one I was on) blew all of its belts, so we got stuck on the side of the road in Wyoming while Mikey our driver band-aided the engine back together so we could make it to the Boise gig and get the bus fixed properly.

When on the road, Warped buses travel in packs of three minimum, so if one bus breaks down, all of the occupants of said bus can be transferred to the two other buses and the show can go on at the next gig, so to speak. When we broke down, the Gallows and Chiodos buses stopped for us, and while Buck, the tour manager for Gallows, ran around the flat-land weeds looking for scorpions and such, the boys from Gallows enjoyed the mid-morning sun and took in the expansive big-sky view being that it was their first time in the States.

ANYHOO-

With that all being said, the truck with a lot of the merch for Epitaph Records and all of the Warped Tour programs that AP produced broke down so, for the day, we were program-less. I took down the addresses of a few fans that were looking forward to picking it up that day and told them I’d mail them one when I got back to Cleveland.

The only good thing about not having the programs that day was that it created a lot less work for us to do like hauling those things around and keeping them stacked up in the program stands.

We had signings with As I Lay Dying, Bryce from the Rocket Summer and the Matches—all of them pleasurable experiences due to the lack of humidity and blaring sun that had been beating down on us over the past few days making everyone miserable.

It was about at midday that it became apparent that the “dessert” part of the day’s events was going to be served, as I slowly started to notice more and more crew (and eventually bands) being more drunk as the day wore on. Obviously, the party had started early today and by the time Bad Religion took the stage around 7 p.m. or so, about half the crew and bands were well on their way.

I will have to admit it’s kind of a sight to see when Bad Religion play on Warped Tour; at least from the backstage/onstage perspective because you have all of the old school crew working the sound and light boards who pretty much just stop monitoring anything and start reliving their youth when these guys are on. The work pretty much stopped for a good portion of their set and the band were surrounded by about 60 or so crew members who were having a grand old time watching their idols play not more than 10 feet away from them as the canyon breeze came over the stage and brought the night temperature down into the 60s. Even Kevin Lyman was on stage dancing away. At one point, Greg Graffin asked the crowd how many of them were making tonight their first Bad Religion show. About a quarter of them cheered away. And the legacy continues.

I missed dinner since I was helping tear down the booth at the end of the day, so I had to wait until the nightly crew/band BBQ that went down and would usually officially launch whatever pre-bus call parties that would take-over the night. By the time that happened, it was near 10 p.m. and I was already full on about six PBRs and feeling a bit… Well, actually, I wasn’t feeling much of anything cuz PBR is piss-water and I’m not too sure why it’s become the official beer of Warped Tour.

ANYHOO-

After eating a burger and a hot dog and some chips and knocking down three more PBRs and finally feeling something, I ended up talking with Pat from Chiodos for about an hour and then a bunch of other musicians within a quick line of Q&As for another.

Bus call was at 1 a.m., but by midnight I was spent. I had to get some zen time in (the mountains are my peace) so I went down to the picnic tables that were by catering for the day and that overlooked the canyon and just sat there for about 45 minutes taking in the night breeze and view and noticing the few campfires that had been built by campers down by the river’s shore in the darkness. A few Warped crew had scurried over the fence and, with camping lights, had gone searching for scorpions in the canyon and later came back with some prizes caught inside plastic coke bottles.

After coming to the realization that beaches couldn’t compare to the surrounding scenery, I checked off some of the “gotta come to peace with some things” list that had been on my mind since starting with the tour and climbed back onto the bus and into my bunk.

Woke up the next morning near Portland to a rainy, gray day in a field surrounded by forestry, green and thick. Couldn’t see Mt. St. Helens (it was nearby and could be seen if no clouds) but what I did find was some sort of chemical plant on the other end of the field within clear site of the stages being set up.

Talk about contradiction.

Ten hours later and a lay-over in Chicago, I’m back in Cleveland; tired, hungry, dirty and my face breaking out from clogged pores.

Before I left the tour, Kevin turned to me and told me to come back out next year. “Pick a region of the country you want to see and come out,” he said as he stepped back from me and was already getting pulled to the side because of some on-site drama between crew members.

So, with that in mind: See you guys someplace next year on Warped…

-Mike

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Comments {4}

BRINNA

(no subject)

from: emoisxmyoxygen
date: Aug. 24th, 2007 05:24 pm (UTC)
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anyhoo..

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(no subject)

from: dying_insanity
date: Aug. 25th, 2007 01:20 pm (UTC)
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see ya next year!

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Jessica Bean

(no subject)

from: cutyourthroat
date: Aug. 25th, 2007 07:22 pm (UTC)
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yeah Gorge was beautiful....except for the god damn riot at the campground forcing us to flee in the night.

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from: anonymous
date: May. 14th, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC)
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