FESTIVAL ‌ Warped Tour 2006 Critics' Picks 

There's an ever-changing rotation of over 50 bands performing on five different stages across the Exchange Park Fairgrounds during the Warped Tour 2006 stop in Ladson. Below are some of the groups City Paper suggests checking out.

THURSDAY
"What are you waiting for?" inquires the chorus of Thursday's first single from their new album, A City by the Light Divided. Months ago, that same question could have been posed to the members of Thursday themselves, as it had been over two and a half years since the release of the band's last full-length, War All the Time. The answer to that question lies in a tale of exhaustion, group dysfunction, and substance abuse, all of which led to the near collapse of the band. More than once, websites announced the demise of the legendary N.J. post-hardcore outfit, but in the end, Thursday ignored the rumors, consciously worked on their issues, and emerged with a new album and a slot on Warped to show for it. Truly one of the best live bands around, Thursday will throw down and leave attendees begging for more. —Leah Weinberg

JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS
Underrated as a performer and songwriter, rock veteran Joan Jett is an icon and a badass. She was only 16 when she helped form the all-girl hard-rock/early punk short-shorts band The Runaways in L.A. She was only 19 when she formed the Ramones-esque quartet The Blackhearts in Philly in 1980. She produced G.I., the lone album of the seminal L.A. punk act, The Germs. She has nine Top 40 hit singles (her smash hit "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" spent eight weeks at Number 1 in 1982). She starred in the '80s rockudrama flick Light of Day (opposite Michael J. Fox and Gena Rowlands). She is celebrating the 25th anniversary of her label, Blackheart Records. She currently hosts a segment called "Joan Jett's Radio Revolution" on Little Steven's Sirius Satellite Radio's Underground Garage. She and her band are touring to support their new album, Sinner. —T. Ballard Lesemann

GYM CLASS HEROES
Not many bands possess the versatility to be able to tour with rock, emo, reggae, and hip-hop groups and be well received no matter what the crowd wants. Then again, there aren't many bands out there like Gym Class Heroes. Labeled an "indie rock/hip-hop band," they've toured with all of the aforementioned types of groups and then some. Hell, Fall Out Boy's lead singer contributed the chorus to GCH's single "Cupid's Chokehold" and no one even blinked an eye — it's because GCH executes its genre-breaking sound flawlessly. They will definitely stand out on this year's Warped Tour, but in a positive, breath-of-fresh-air, will-impress-the-hell-out-of-you kind of way. —LW

THE BOUNCING SOULS
N.J.-based modern-punk vets The Bouncing Souls have been cranking out smart, tough punk anthems for over 15 years. "We started as a live band playing basements, bars, parties, and clubs to anyone who cared," says frontman Greg Attonito. "Over the years, we've made records, toured the world over, met so many people, and created countless memories together." Attonito, guitarist Pete Steinkopf, bassist Bryan Kienlen, and drummer Michael McDermott signed to Epitaph in 1996 and stayed solidly on the road for the next 10 years. Their new collection, The Gold Record, kicks ass and demonstrates their handle on simple melodies, tight riffage and arrangements, and a rough-but-intelligent tone. —TBL

OVER IT
Over It specialize in penning songs more sunny and bright than the band's adopted hometown of Huntington Beach, Calif. In 2005, the quintet dropped a stellar album with Silverstrand, a compilation of straight-up rock songs with slick production that evidenced the band's growth from a wannabe punk band to a mature rock outfit. The band recently inked a deal with Virgin Records and has been working on its major label debut, an album that fans are chomping at the bit to get their hands on. Over It's Warped Tour set will no doubt be an energetic romp through the band's arsenal of solid tunes. With the addition of a new guitar player (and longtime friend), the music will only sound better live. Keep your ears open for "Siren on the 101" and "Truth Is," two guaranteed crowd-pleasers. —LW

HELMET
After a recent hiatus, N.Y.C. grunge-era post-hardcore/hard-rock vets Helmet are back at it. They debuted in 1989 with the EP Born Annoying (AmRep). 1992's Meantime put them on the indie/metal map with a polished, disciplined, industrial-strength sound akin to the Rollins Band, Melvins, and The Jesus Lizard. Founding vocalist/guitarist Page Hamilton and guitarist Chris Traynor, and new members Mike Jost (drums) and Jeremy Chatelain (bass) will tour throughout the year behind a new album titled Monochrome (Warcon). —TBL

ALKALINE TRIO
The biggest challenge facing Alkaline Trio on Warped Tour won't be the pressure of having to impress the 15,000 people in attendance, but rather contending with the sun. The dark hair and pale skin of the members of Alkaline Trio, bolstered by the band's dark, goth-punk tendencies, suggest that they haven't seen the sunlight in years. No worries. Despite the potential for sunburn and profuse sweating, the Chicago punk-rock threesome will still put on a well-executed performance. The band is currently out supporting its latest full-length, Crimson — a big-sounding, slickly-produced album for a band that usually goes a little more natural. But the catchy hooks, fast punk beats, and non-sugar-coated lyrics are all still there. —LW


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