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Movie Review: No Room For Rockstars: The Vans Warped Tour

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This documentary is not a comprehensive view of the summer punk/metal music tour, The Warped Tour. It is a study of the underbelly of the 2010 edition, following only those participants the producers had access to.

Major rock ‘n’ roll names included in the 2010 tour like Pennywise and Alkaline Trio are seen only in fleeting moments, if at all. Instead, the film examines three musical acts not necessarily representative of the tour, and an unsigned band that follows the tour across the country, in the hope of getting a moment of stage time.

So while being an interesting documentary on the grueling hardships faced by these young vagabonds of the road (in another century they would have been circus people), the film abandons us to stage left when we want to see the main attraction. It’s like being a witness to the mosh pit, when we want to participate.

Never Shout Never, a band led by 20-year old Christofer Drew, is woefully out of place on The Warped Tour. Drew comes across like an intelligent one-fifth of a boy band with a belly of teeny-boppers following him around and begging him for an emotional squeeze and autograph. His compositions are accomplished but his band is anonymous and his music is decidedly light. His presence here is mystifying.

In one disturbing scene, he injures himself diving from the stage into the mosh pit just as the human sea is parting. He is swarmed by fans as he hobbles off to the hospital, clearly in pain. Not quite the punk riot Warped is legend to be.

Mike Posner “broke out” on this tour. The Timberlake-like singer, writer ,and producer, who takes the stage alone with a microphone and sings to computerized music, is extensively interviewed. He seems destined for a successful career with a business-sense savvy and several hit singles as a result of Warped. He flies in and out of the tour while “finishing his new album in L.A.”. The do-it-yourself on a jet ethic.

Suicide Silence is more representative of Van’s Warped Tour; a heavy metal outfit with a scowling sore throat-ed singer, Mitch Lucker, who transforms from menacing stage star to tattooed working-class joe when he’s interviewed. He sees his career as a practical way to raise his daughter.

Finally there is Forever Came Calling, a band not signed to The Warped Tour, who follow the tour around the country in their modest van while selling their CD for $5 a pop. Their story of a band begging for attention, hoping for a big break on the stage, is the rock ‘n’ roll equivalent of Broadway’s 42nd Street.

The camera work by Josh Salzmans glistens in sunny sky blue and is alive with excitement while capturing looming Texas thunderclouds threatening to close the show down. The entire film looks great.

But No Room For Rockstars only skirts the issues and dynamics of The Warped Tour. It never tries to be anything more than a fly on the wall of the tour’s lesser stages. Even brief interviews with the long haired, charismatic, ex-con stage manager, or the Santa Claus-looking tour bus driver, (the Warped tour’s very first employee), outshone the musician’s time in front of the camera. Rarely do rock ‘n’ roll acts have anything significant to say outside their performance.

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About Guy De Federicis

  • Guy De Federicis

    The correct name of the band mentioned in this article is “Never Shout Never”, not “Never Say Never”. – Guy De Federicis