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Some of Warped's most entertaining happenings didn't occur on any stage. In one booth, Troma video, the infamous studio behind the Toxic Avenger series and ultragraphic offerings such as Tromeo and Juliet, demonstrated how to simulate a splattered skull with a hollowed-out melon and savaged Blockbuster cards with a switchblade in protest of the chain's refusal to carry its films. However, the Bonner Springs police force (perhaps led by Sheriff Blaylock) drew the line when Troma attempted public nudity. And while a tattoo-smothered intimidator busted some breakdance moves, an open mic at a hip-hop tent showcased the freestyle flow of a stocky lad whose voice blended Daffy Duck's enunciation with Mike Tyson's tone.
Such hidden attractions made Warped an appealing all-day destination, even if it did stretch two solid hours of high-caliber music over an eight-hour span. And its organizers deserve credit for responding to constructive criticism. After fans complained about getting gouged at past shows by venue-driven merchandise, Warped found a way to get its goods down to Fugazi-friendly prices. When the socially conscious crowd protested that Warped wasn't as all-inclusive as Lollapalooza, the festival invited new voices and bolstered its political content. Local artists griped that kids were skipping their shows to save money for Warped, so organizers reserved area bands a stage at every stop. Purists might never approve of an event that will always carry the logo-plastered stigma of target marketing, but Warped has made significant steps toward living up to its billing as a real punk tour.
Local Grammy Winners
The New Artist Demo Grammy Showcase, held at the Uptown Theater's Club Nowhere on June 25, unearthed a surprising pool of fresh talent. Perhaps groups that are well-established locally weren't enticed by the grand prize (in part, one free song each at BRC Audio and Chapman Studio), reasoning that they already had serviceable recordings.
"Studios, music stores and people working in the industry make up our membership and, by extension, make up our lists of contacts in our regional markets," says Recording Academy regional project manager Jack Campbell, almost answering an inquiry about why a band that produced a great demo would be rewarded with the chance to make another demo. "It is the first chance many folks get to get into a professional recording environment," he says.
The Band That Saved the World, the only act with name recognition among the ten finalists competing for studio time, ended up the big winner. Rap-rocker Bryan Sanders and solo popper Drew took second and third place, earning Hume Music gift certificates. The panel of judges, which included me, Tech N9ne, Brent Berry, House of Blues' Jacki Becker, Truth Cell's Shane Murray, Lawrence Journal-World entertainment editor Jon Niccum and Keith Loneker of 5150 Mental productions, listened to one song apiece from each of the hopefuls, then ranked each on a ten-point scale in categories that included clarity of mix, emotional impact and originality of melody. Artists received the comment sheets after the event concluded, but to give them some gratis publicity (and to help them decipher some dastardly handwriting), here's a brief wrap-up of the submissions: