Warped music, not-so-warped sponsors

Since the Warped Tour’s latest incarnation (the lamest one to date) is hitting arenas and pavilions as we speak, we consider it a worthwhile task to check out this year’s sponsors—the companies that will get heavy promotion on-site (the huge inflatable Yoo-Hoo bottle springs to mind) and thus capitalize on the large crowd’s woefully misguided view of rebellion. This year’s gaggle includes Vans (obviously), record labels like Nitro, Fat Wreck Chords and Victory, as well as noted alternative clothing store Hot Topic. Joining them are subversive, word-of-mouth, street-level businesses like MasterCard, Cingular, Samsung, Dodge, Energizer and, for some reason, Winterfresh gum. Given the rise of eyeliner among scenesters, I’m half shocked that Avon didn’t hop on the bandwagon. It’s worth noting that alternative groups and causes, like Plea for Peace, set up shop there, too. But the steady increase of corporate money does somewhat undermine the legitimacy of the event, even as it introduces groups of men in tight pants to new audiences. Let’s just hope it’s worth paying $6 for water to see Bedouin SoundClash.