In 1995, Vans Warped Tour embarked on its first full cross country run of punk rock summer camp. In 2018, 18 years later and much to the surprise of tour-goers, founder Kevin Lyman announced that this summer would be the last full cross country run the tour would see.
Whether you attended the tour or not, Vans Warped Tour has been a staple in the music scene, specifically for bands under the rock and punk umbrella, since its beginnings back in the nineties. It’s many stages gave bands their start, it opened fans up to different genres and gave a platform to organisations and charities that help with everything from suicide prevention to cancer awareness. It also gave a lot of bands their start, allowing them a place to showcase their talents to a broader audience in major cities across the US – even My Chemical Romance started out on smaller stages at the tour.
For a lot of people, both young and old, fans and bands, punk rock summer camp became a place where people could be themselves. Leaving your problems at the door in lieu of celebrating identity and self-expression through the enjoyment of music. Being around like-minded people who are singing just as loud as you are to their favourite bands gives this sense of community that not only carries through every date of the summer but also carries through every year. Warped Tour gave everyone something to look forward to as, for a long time, it was the only festival type of it’s kind.
That’s not to say that Vans Warped Tour hasn’t had its fair share of downfalls. The heat, of course, always makes it hard for you to last the whole day but it’s hard to come away from it, as sweaty and tired as you are, without fond memories of the day. It has also seen it’s fair share of controversies over the years, by inviting questionable organisations to the tour to speak to young impressionable fans and running into trouble with bands for their problematic actions. Even in those less than favourable times, it sparked important conversations, some of which would have otherwise been left out.
Despite it all, the music is what made Vans Warped Tour as successful as it was and this year was no different. With everything from a band of literal clowns Twisted, to the more upbeat and pop sounding Waterparks, the final vans Warped tour had everything you could have wanted from a festival. It was a bittersweet feeling to be among the camaraderie of the tour, where kids for a moment forgot that it was the final time they’d see the tour in their city.
That being said, the demand was higher than ever, those who said they’d ‘just go next year’ as an excuse for skipping Warped could no longer put it off and the tour sold a record of 500,000 tickets across the entire summer. It showed of course, in the crowded amphitheatres and the sweaty pits that spanned back to merch tents on all sides. It seemed to be worth battling the crowds to see so many of your favourite bands, knowing it would be the last chance you’d get to see them all together in this kind of setting. Because really, when would Every Time I Die tour with the likes of As It Is again?
The Maine perform in red, with a fair share of nostalgia mixed into their performance. They even bring a fan up on stage to help them sing a fan favourite Girls Do What They Want. The Maine have always been a band who are heavy into involving their fans in everything. There’s a lot that some bands, even on Warped Tour, could learn from The Maine. Issues are up next and they’re one member down, as it was announced earlier in the year that Michael Bohn would no longer be performing with them. As he handled all the heavy parts of the track, it was interesting to see how the band delegated his parts between guitarist AJ Rebollo and bassist Sky Acord. Despite worries, the band are as lively and interesting as ever, Tyler Carters own vocals are sounding better than ever and seeing how they work together now breathes new life into the band. To end the set, Josh relinquishes his drumming responsibilities to take surf over the crowd, it’s unexpected and fun and tops off the set.
Every Time I Die bring it heavy to the Mutant Lightning stages, performing with such gusto. It’s no surprise they draw huge crowds when they have one of the best live performances on the tour, no gimmicks just hard-hitting riffs and jumps from beginning to end. Waterparks are a joy as always, their set is made up of their most upbeat songs – minus the one acoustic track of the set – and it’s the perfect fit for the summer. 3OH!3 bring the nostalgia as they perform songs from their decade old album WANT. Despite how some of the lyrics today might not be well sought after, it’s looked past for the sake of enjoying their set after not hearing those songs for so long. A highlight comes when thousands of and scream, louder than any band has played throughout the day, the iconic lyric; ‘tell your boyfriend, if he says he’s got beef, that I’m a vegetarian and I ain’t fucking scared of him’.
Closing out the day is Simple Plan, a band that has played Warped Tour numerous times. The band have been around for almost two decades, that’s near 20 years of constant pop punk hits that have been produced by the band. Their set was the perfect way to round off the day, their tracks are anthems that preach to a fans teen angst. The crowd is filled with fans both young and a little older, a chorus of people who grew up listening to Simple Plan and still find nostalgia in screaming those lyrics and the young kids, the next generation that will grow up creating their own memories attached to these songs.