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Buckets of rain drenching LaSalle Park Monday didn't keep the audience at the third annual Vans Warped Tour from soaking up the fun at one of the best concert events of the season.

Despite the inclement weather making conditions unsafe for the athletes to skate and bike (for only the second time in the tour's history), the estimated crowd of 9,500 was jamming to performances by 29 bands playing their guts out on four stages.

One band that brought its own sunshine was also one of the most eagerly anticipated, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The eight members of the Boston-based group were impeccably dressed in crisp suits as they danced and cajoled about the stage. Dicky Barrett commanded the crowd through a rousing set including "Let's Face It"; "Someday I Suppose"; and the catchy single, "The Impression That I Get."

With a scream of "Do you wanna hear some punk rock?" Mike Ness and Social Distortion blasted through an intense set that was kicked off with a potent take on the Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb."

The music started at 1 p.m. with the crazy punk of Blink 182 on one stage and the rhythmic rumblings of Florida's Lo Presher on another.

Sugar Ray, one of the festival's up-and-coming bands, was also one of the more personable. Singer Mark McGrath alternated between pulling kids on stage and jumping into the audience as the group displayed a heavier musical side than found on its current radio-friendly reggae single "Fly."

The festival also brought out often amusing, always inventive takes on some interesting cover tunes. Reel Big Fish put a ska beat to A-ha's "Take on Me"; Pennywise blitzed through a raucous "Stand by Me"; and Social Distortion performed its notable punk rendition of the Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire."

While the ska, punk and hardcore of the Descendents, Less Than Jake, Suicide Machine and the hip Hepcats were the festival's soundtrack, there were surprises along the way. The kids stopped moshing and started dancing to the big-band sounds of the seven-piece Royal Crown Revue (a group that made its big-screen debut in "The Mask"). And the self- proclaimed "garage-style punkabilly" of Buffalo's Psychotramps, one of the bands chosen for the local stage, was simply loads of fun.

Psychotramps' drummer Felix Rodriquez said: "You have so many variety of bands here, from old school punks and new school punks to Allman Brothers-type music. This is better than Lollapalooza."

Warped Tour

Mighty Mighty Bosstones and 28 other bands

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