“No Room For Rockstars” offers a view behind the scenes of the 2010 Vans Warped Tour with a status report on the current state of music and teen culture intricately woven into the framework. The 2012 documentary is masterfully shot and features interviews with musicians, fans and all involved with the massive event. There are screaming fans filled to the brim with angst and devotion, and musicians and wannabe musicians chasing stardom.
I’ve never been to a Warped Tour concert but it doesn’t matter since the annual summer event features 600,000 fans, 200 bands and 43 cities across America — yeah, that’s 16,906 miles in 52 days! Who’s got two thumbs and is missing out — this girl! Well, missed out, since I’m a bit too long in the tooth to hit up the Vans Warped Tour!
Now that we’ve crunched the numbers we can discuss this film because it’s way more than a hodgepodge of footage from concerts, way more than mosh pits, crowd surfing and mass amounts of Monster Energy drinks and Miller Lite. Director Parris Patton pulls back the curtain to show human elements — a range of emotions from anxiety and suffering to pure euphoria — because, believe it or not, our rock gods are human!
There’s Chris of nevershoutnever who is all peace signs and hugs, and could care less about the corporate aspect of his craft. He has fans screaming his name, teen girls sobbing from an overwhelming connection with his lyrics, yet he’s a homebody who remarked, “I would love to just chill at home and be a normal person and not feel like I’m losing grasp of the real world everyday. You lose track of time, lose track of yourself, lose track of where you came from.”
Then there’s Mike Posner, whose smooth hip-hop sound is reminiscint of Justin Timberlake. No one’s sure where he fits in on the tour, Posner especially, but his popularity becomes more evident as the film progresses as his number one single rises on the charts. His success probably stems from his corporate handlers and packed schedule outside the tour, from a T-Mobile event to an interview and photoshoot with Rolling Stone. However, when you take away the screaming fans singing along to his lyrics, the leather jacket and chain necklace, the swagger, you have a young man who fears being a one-hit wonder. He’s a talented man who fears he’ll be forgotten.Then there’s the epitome of Warped Tour music — Mitch of Suicide Silence who warms up by humming the musical scale before practicing his death growl. He remarked, “I want that heavy band to bring the crowd.” Pretty bad ass but there’s another side to Mitch aside from the tattoos and angst. He has severe anxiety before going onstage and when interacting with fans. He has a mother and 10-year-old sister who describe him as having two personalities because when he hits the stage he becomes a “magnificent beast” with “harsh lyrics.” He has a wife and 3-year-old daughter he provides for by touring 305 days of the year. He sleeps in a tour bus, doesn’t shower or wear clean clothes, and is away from home so he can give them a better life.
To add more compelling and profound elements, the film weaves in a tale of Forever Came Calling, a band following the tour in a beat-up old van to sell their CDs to concertgoers for $5 a pop. They sleep in the van or on the ground in parking lots, pee in empty Powerade bottles, drive in the pouring rain, steal doughnuts from convenience stores for food because they believe in their music and in the Warped Tour. In addition to CDs, which they let strangers sample on an old portable CD player, the group asks those waiting in line to sign a petition so they can play on the next Warped Tour.With the scale of success covered, from Chris Posner to Forever Came Calling, there’s one element yet to be discussed. The tale of Kevin Lyman, founder of the Warped Tour, provides another element as he discusses the history of the Warped Tour and how it’s been the platform for big names, including Sublime, No Doubt, Eminem, Blink 182 and the Deftones, and hopefully future superstars. The tour has evolved along with the music industry, especially switching from punk music to a variety of genres, because the main purpose is for music lovers to come together and hear all their favorite bands in one day.
Fletcher of Pennywise summed it up, “Everyone started working together and looking out for each other and we knew this is a place we belonged. It felt real, it felt like homegrown and it felt punk rock.”
Lyman was my favorite part of the documentary because he traded in a suit and tie corporate future for staying true to himself. He’s hardly recognizable throughout the film in a T-shirt and torn shorts as he watches over his event. When he provided a barbecue for the truck and bus drivers, cooking and serving everybody — including others who happened upon the party — I knew this guy was genuine.
For anyone out there with dreams of stardom in the music industry, this is a must see. For fans of music, whatever genre, this documentary is an interesting look at the human spirit. All parties involved, whether it’s the tattooed and pierced fan who feels like an outcast or the wannabe rocker hoping to catch that big break, are fighting the same fight. There is no room for rockstars on the Warped Tour. Musicians are trying to be true to themselves while staying true to their fans. As for the fans, the film featured Adam, a random concertgoer, who said, “It was all about unity, it was a good thing … We’re not the norm, nobody here is the norm … you’ll see people they call the headbangers, people they call the freaks, whatever name you have for them, here today we all belong here.”
“No Room For Rockstars” hit select theaters March 1. The iTunes release is April 2 and the VOD and DVD release is May 15th. The film is accompanied with a soundtrack of songs from the movie as well as Vans Warped Tour all-time greatest hits. Some bonus content is also available at vans.com/warped or vanswarpedtour.com. For more information, visit noroomforrockstars.com! — Kate Vendetta