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Warped Tour Serves Up Winner At Comerica Park
DETROIT — The Tigers were out of town, but Comerica Park was still rockin’ — and rolling — on Saturday.
The punk rock-dominated Vans Warped Tour returned to downtown Detroit after three years of having record crowds in the Pontiac Silverdome parking lot. And while the 2002 visit to Comerica was disastrous, Saturday’s edition of Warped was a winner that had many in the crowd comparing it favorably to its previous home.
“There’s a lot more shade and space out here,” said Kelli Bender, 17, of Beverly Hills, who attended the show with three friends. “The Silverdome was all fl at and just blacktop.”
Rick Kirbitz, 50, of Flushing, who was attending his third Warped show, liked the fact that “it’s downtown, in a closed-in area. The parking is better than I anticipated. I like the fact you can go in the shade and sit down and get cool. You couldn’t do that in the Silverdome.”
The tour used nearly all the parking lot space around the park, across Woodward Avenue from Adams to the Interstate 75 service drive and down Montcalm, giving the 20,000-plus concertgoers more room in front of each of the nine stages. Additionally, Comerica Park was open, with the individual band booths lining the concourse and even Tiger Fantasy Camp baseball games on the field for those taking a break from the sweltering heat.
And after running out of food and water in 2002, there were ample vendors around the parking lots, along with concession stands and restaurants inside the stadium — where the carousel was running, but without riders. Merchants around the stadium also opened to take advantage of the concert crowd.
“We admit that four years ago, it was pretty much a miserable experience for the fan,” said Warped Tour founder and director Kevin Lyman. “It just wasn’t how I like to do my business. We made a lot of attempts to rectify that this year.”
Lyman said he also hopes that after an attendance dip this year, those who might have been apprehensive about coming — or sending their children — to downtown Detroit will change their minds when they hear about this year’s arrangements.
“It’s nicer ’cause it’s bigger and more spaced out,” said Jackie Moore, 18, of Southgate. “The Silverdome was more compact.”
Nicole Dundes, 15, of St. Claire also liked the fact that “it’s more sanitary in the bathrooms” of Comerica Park rather than the portable toilets set up at the Silverdome.
But John Smith, 22, of Brighton, who sported a multitipped Mohawk hairstyle, said he preferred Pontiac as a Warped locale. “It felt less crowded than this,” he said. “It seems harder to get from place to place here.”
The accommodations certainly made it that much easier for fans to enjoy the music, which ranged from hot modern rockers of the moment (Thursday, Rise Against, Motion City Soundtrack) to the heritage sounds of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts to a wealth of up-and-comers, many of whom reach the Warped audience through MySpace and other Internet outlets. Australia’s The Living End was a big hit with its punk-flavored rockabilly, while the Pink Spiders had fans bouncing to its hooky hard rock — including songs from the group’s new album, which comes out Tuesday.
Local rockers Chiodos, meanwhile, played a “dream come true” set on one of Warped’s main stage, as well as an acoustic set on another, and attracted one of the day’s largest and most enthusiastic crowds.
The Warped Tour did deliver a significantly larger than usual number of spectators for the Fantasy Camp game — although the players did their best to ignore the festivities.
“When you’re out there, you don’t hear it,” said Herb Hall, 62, of North Versailles, Pa., attending his sixth Tiger camp.
“When you go to batting practice at (a regular game), there’s music going on, anyway. It doesn’t bother me.”
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