Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole

Caught the Warped Tour Friday in Camden. This is my third year and I always have so much freaking fun, even though the food's too expensive to eat, it's full of stupid kids who don't drink enough water in 90 degree heat and pass out, and every other word out of the lead singers' mouths is typically "f**k." The tour is not built for people who expect assigned seats, a smoke-free atmosphere and air conditioning.

But when you're the mother of two teen boys who love music, you learn to enjoy things you never thought you would. I've learned to love music they don't play on Top 40 stations. Alternative and metal bands like System of a Down, Bullet For My Valentine, The Academy Is, Alkaline Trio, and my favorite, My Chemical Romance. And that's only the top of the list.

In 2006, I decided to take my oldest son and two friends to the Warped Tour. I was afraid my youngest would be too small to enjoy it. Besides, he melts in the heat and it was a sweltering 100. There were several bands on the bill whose music I enjoyed, including Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and The Academy Is, so I thought what the hell. It can't be that bad. I came away from the day with a nasty sunburn and a few new favorite bands, including the Pink Spiders. And the knowledge that I don't care to see The Valient Thorr again. Ever.

The next year, I found Bad Religion, The Lordz, Pepper, Straylight Run and Boys Like Girls. And discovered how awesome Coheed and Cambria are live. We stood in line to say hi to the RJA boys (so adorable, you just want to feed them) and I watched my then-14-year-old walk into the Underoath mosh pit. (Don't get me started on moshing. My son says it's a form of expression so it's dance. I say it's a way for young males to cause injury to themselves and others and calling it dance is hiding it's true nature. At least have the balls to call it what it is. Violence.)

This year, I wanted to see Against Me!, The Academy Is, Angels & Airwaves, Ludo, We the Kings, The Lordz and The Bouncing Souls. I only missed The Lordz, which really sucks because if I'd seen them, I would have seen all of the elderstatesmen on the tour. Between Pennywise, The Lordz and Bouncing Souls, those of us over the age of 30 were well represented. These guys have the same strength and vitality as the younger bands, but they also have the wisdom and the chops that come from age. What I find so fascinating about these groups is they continue to make new music in genres most people consider only for the young.

The energy put off by the young bands seems boundless and the sheer joy they bring to their music is infectious. So whether you're watching the Japanese all-girl ska band, Oreskaband, or the just-out-of-their-teens rockers, All Time Low, you can't help but be drawn into their energy.

As I watched ATL whip the audience into a surging mass of sweaty bodies, occasionally erupting with crowd surfers, I had to smile because it was just so much fun. And because I kept thinking, there has to be a love story in there between one of those burly security guards and the beautiful woman he catches and pulls over the barrier to safety. Hey, I'm a romance writer. I can't help it.

I plan to buy ATL's new album, as well as check out more of Oreska's music. The tour has been hell on my wallet but a boon for my iPod. Next year, I hope to convince my younger son to attend. I think he'll have a great time. I do. You won't ever see me in the mosh pit, but crowd surfing...nah, probably not a good thing at my age. Still...

You can stop trying new things when you're dead. Live while you can.