By Melinda Cooper
By RFT Music
By Allison Babka
By Daniel Hill
By Drew Ailes
By Brian Heffernan
By Joseph Hess
By Joseph Hess
4:15 p.m.: The Shiragirl stage features, uh, Shiragirl, whose hot-pink mini-dress, matching fishnets and multi-toned hair scream "trying too hard!" Rapping rudimentary lyrics ("Go! Go! Go!") in rhythmically challenged patterns over hip-hop-lite beats, she seems like a lobotomized Peaches. Perhaps what's most disturbing, however, is that this tiny stage tucked away in the far corner of the Warped complex featured most of the few female musicians playing the tour. (The most prominent one this date was pint-size Paramore vocalist Hayley Williams, although the Sounds and Meg & Dia will be reppin' for the XX chromosome in St. Louis.) While the lack of estrogen isn't a new complaint, it's certainly sad to see women reduced to such a small part of the festivities and segregated from the masses so severely.
4:30 p.m.: Playing a pink guitar possibly borrowed from the Shiragirl stage, Helmet's Paige Hamilton unleashes the colossal opening riff to "Unsung." It's a desperate gambit when a band opens with its best-known number, and it only served to delay the mass exodus catalyzed by its awful new material.
5 p.m.: From First to Last's soundcheck drowned out Royden's pop-punk on the adjacent stage which wasn't a bad thing. Ex-Limp Bizkit bassist Wes Borland, perhaps using his dense tattoo covering as a witness-protection device, redeems himself nicely in FFTL, which clearly loves black metal and white face paint. Diminutive singer Sonny Moore's "Show me your souls" request seems profoundly earnest or kinda creepy, but either way, it's a refreshing change from generic bitching-about-the-heat banter.
5:15 p.m.: The increasingly U2-like screamo outfit Thursday adds subtle new-wave touches to its evocative, arena-ready anthems. We give props to vocalist Geoff Rickly (not that he needs any, given that his group boasts the day's largest onstage entourage) for saying, "Men, it's never too late to become a feminist," and encouraging downloading: "We want you to have music in your heart, even if you don't have money in your pocket."
5:30 p.m.: U.K. pioneers Buzzcocks who only played a few Warped dates opened their set by promising "punk rock & roll, old-style." This translated into a fast, sloppy, surprisingly loud set that featured classics, solid new songs and plenty of attitude. An entirely too-small, yet appreciative crowd (including the day's highest concentration of Mohawks) learned that punk once meant "one-two-three-four!" and rapid-fire chords, not metal solos and face paint.
6:15 p.m. As we leave the venue, rickety acoustic tunes waft from the huge amphitheater stage. The singer's lawn-flamingo hair, neon-visible even from the lawn seats, reveals that the anguished wailer is none other than Saves the Day's Chris Conley. Shira Girl, Helmet, Conley pink is the new suck.
Noon Tuesday, July 25. UMB Bank Pavilion, 14141 Riverport Drive, Maryland Heights. $28. 314-421-4400.