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It's a day of thrashing and splashing as Vans Warped Tour hits St. Petersburg

In normal years, 30 doesn't seem that old.

In Warped Tour years, 30 puts you somewhere between Bing Crosby and Gandalf the Grey.

See, the Warped Tour, which stopped Friday at Vinoy Waterfront Park in St. Pete, is a young person's game. It is designed to strip teenagers of their hard-earned allowances, to say nothing of their inhibitions or — in the event of a sudden rain shower — their clothing. Thirty-year-olds like me stick out like the Geico Caveman.

But the beauty of the ever-expanding, ever-evolving Warped is that the lineup has enough veteran acts that punks on the wrong side of 30 can have a good time, too.

One of the day's defining performances came from hard-core legends the Dillinger Escape Plan, who formed in 1997. Thrashing, leaping and spewing energy drinks into an already energetic crowd, they twisted the stage inside and out in a steady wash of sideways rain. And metal's maniacal minister of positivity, Andrew W.K., turned the audience into a frenzied cyclone of feel-good vibes with a set-closing rendition of Party Hard.

But veteran artists were in short supply. Most of the 70-plus acts that played Warped's seven stages were of a more recent, but no less distinctive, vintage.

Cruelly, several top-notch young Florida bands were scheduled against each other, and all proved worth catching. Tampa's Automatic Loveletter showcased singer Juliet Simms' phenomenally brassy pipes.

Bradenton's We the Kings once again showed why they're one of the best young pop-punk bands in the country, with a set that inspired deafening sing-alongs among the hometown crowd. In a fine Florida mashup, Hey Monday singer Cassadee Pope ran straight from her band's set to join singer Travis Clark onstage for a rendition of We'll Be a Dream.

Possibly out of curiosity, a modest crowd turned out to see Gossip Girl actor Taylor Momsen's band, the Pretty Reckless. It showed promise, and Momsen — skinny as a fang, wearing raccoon eye shadow, barely-there cutoff shorts, long black stockings and 5-inch magenta heels — can really sing. She needs to work on her stage presence, though, as her heels kept her mostly stuck behind the microphone.

For younger fans, though, it really didn't matter which band was onstage, as long as there was a pit. Long-haired, tank-topped hard-core bands like Pierce the Veil and Confide inspired grand moshing (and, in the case of Attack Attack, a chicken-fight battle royale, with dozens of fans duking it out on each other's shoulders).

When the Sparring singer Joel Bourne demanded that the girls in his crowd "get off Facebook and get in the pit," more than 20 not-so-demure girls obliged.

Among them was Shannon McClenathan, 17, a student at St. Petersburg Catholic, who sported a 2-week-old hot pink cast on her right arm. Asked why she didn't hesitate to crowd-surf with a cast on, she grinned goofily. "I wanted to (mess) people up," she giggled.

Only she didn't say mess.

Even an old fogey like me had to laugh at that.

It's a day of thrashing and splashing as Vans Warped Tour hits St. Petersburg 07/23/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 23, 2010 9:50pm]
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