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Warped Tour a headbanging blast

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Saturday's Vans Warped Tour at the Utah State Fairgrounds started off with a bang — a headbang, that is.

Locals Covendetta opened up the all-day concert by performing their brand of techno hardcore to about 200 fans and onlookers. The band's vocalist Justin Stanford wouldn't have it any other way.

"We got to start things off this year, which was great," said Stanford, whose band played its second consecutive year in a local slot on the Ernie Ball stage. "We were really blessed for the opportunity to play a second time. There were more people this time around, and the fans were really excited."

If Covendetta's crowd response was any indication how the rest of the day was going to be, local metal band Fire in the Skies' was the confirmation.

"It was way better than we ever could've expected," vocalist Brad Nielson said about his band's set. "The crowd was really wild — everybody came with a mentality of wanting to have a good time."

For only her second concert, 17-year-old Felisha Wall called the day a success.

"I came for Covendetta and IWRESTLEDABEARONCE, but (Fire in the Skies) was amazing," she said near the band's merchandise tent.

Ogden native Nielson was quick to point out that the 2010 Warped Tour fans weren't the only ones who were impressed.

"Did you see Haste the Day just a few minutes ago?" Nielson, high-fiving fans old and new as they passed. "Their bassist was wearing our wolf shirt. How cool is that?"

Once Fire in the Skies left the stage, the crowd filtered from the local showcase, leaving Hotel on Baltic, The Sakai Incident and Written in Fire with many fewer audience members than the first two Utah heavyweights.

Speaking of heavyweights, this year's Warped Tour brought back Face to Face, which, incidentally, was one of the bands on the first Vans Warped Tour back in 1995.

The Southern California punk pioneer — led by Trever Keith, took the stage with old-school energy that showed the newbies a thing or two.

The band belted out classics such as "Disconnected," "Bill of Goods" and "A-OK" as the audience sang along.

As an added bonus, Keith announced the band — including bassist Scott Shiflett, drummer Danny Thompson and guitarist Chad Yaro — will release a new album called "Laugh Now, Laugh Later" in the fall. After teasing the audience with a couple of chords, they launched into new song "Should Anything Go Wrong."

Sandi Spackman, 27, and her sister Linda, 31, both from Salt Lake City, attended the Warped Tour to see Face to Face and the other old-school punk bands, such as Dropkick Murphys and Pennywise.

"(Face to Face) just play great music," said Sandi, a former research associate. "There's so much energy."

Linda, who works in Westminster College's financial aid department, said the new song was just as good at the older tunes.

"I can't wait for the new album," she said.

A few hours before going on stage, Dropkick Murphys' bagpiper Scruffy Wallace said it felt good to back on the Warped Tour.

"The last time we were on was 2005," he said. "And I feel old. There are a bunch of young bands around, and I'm trying to catch up with some that I haven't heard before. A lot has changed, but we'll always play the old stuff and mix in the new."

e-mail: Scott@desnews.com and nparker@desnews.com