"Though the tour and the world have changed since ’95, the same feeling of having the ‘best summer ever’ will live on through the bands, the production teams, and the fans that come through at every stop.
The enduring spirit of the Vans Warped Tour remains as bright as ever, continuing to inspire creativity and ambition in new and exciting ways as we prepare for a 25th anniversary celebration in 2019.
I truly look forward to seeing as many of you as possible during this final cross country run, and getting to thank you for your support on this wild adventure. Until then, take care and be safe.” – Kevin Lyman (Founder of the Vans Warped Tour)
I had known it was coming, and I had thought I had prepared to say goodbye to tour as I've known it to be for my entire life, but know that I've attended my last date I can't help but feel like there's going to be a small piece of me missing in the years to come. My journey with Warped Tour began as a fan in 2009, when the only bands I knew on the bill were The Maine, A Skylit Drive, and 3Oh3!; but I truly fell in love with music that day. I had only been to one Jonas Brothers concert before this in my lifetime, so immersing myself into Warped was showing myself an entirely new world. Who in the hell would have thought that nearly 10 years later I would be linked to the tour still, but now working and attending multiple dates across the North-East.
I spent so many years as a fan, spending at least a week planning out the one coveted day a summer where I would be able to run rampant, see live music, experience new non-profits and clothing companies, and more importantly have a sense of feeling at home. You truly will never see a more diverse (and yes sometimes outright bizarre, I'm looking at you with the assless fishnets in Toronto) group of people come together to just be weirdos and enjoy the things they love most. It's easy to bash the lineup and be pissed off that more of your favorite bands aren't on the bill, but let's be real when are you ever going to be able to see GWAR tour with Movements again? Or how about Mayday Parade and The Acacia Strain? Harms Way and 3Oh3!? You get the point, you get to see bands that normally you'd never even catch playing in the same city, all on one magical little bill and I had always been appreciative of that.
On top of being a fan, I spent a bizarre number of years trying to get good photos on a point and shoot camera from in the crowd. I have no idea how I didn't know I wanted to be a photographer sooner, but that's a whole other blog post in itself. I took photos of The Maine and Chiodos in '09 on one of those said shitty point and shoots I probably borrowed from my mom and that continued up until I finally began working in the music industry and first covered the tour in 2016.
Immersing myself in the behind-the-scenes madness only furthered my love for Warped, creating connections and making friends around the country that I can carry with me into my real world. That's the piece of Warped Tour that doesn't leave us, these friendships, the memories made, they carry with you into that shitty, scary, crazy, real world and they make the every day more tolerable. Every BBQ, every tear, every sunburn, every laugh, every hour spent in a line, each and every moment spent with the tour made me who I am today.
I was lucky enough to spend five days with the tour this year, some as press/photo, some working alongside my good friend Tanisha at the UNFD tent, and some just plain enjoying myself. Originally I had only planned on attending three dates, but once the opportunity to hop on a day early and attend the Pittsburgh date came about I couldn't say no. With the finality of the tour lingering over my head I knew I had to take in every ounce of it that I could while I could. The next three days flew by and on my drive home from Cleveland I knew that I couldn't just have one more date left, I just wasn't ready yet. So I did what any logical being would do and phoned my roommate, asked her to cancel all of her appointments for Friday and instead come with me to Detroit for another date. Luckily she obliged and we headed to Detroit the next day.
After four out of five days in a row being spent running around, driving, and working Warped dates I was exhausted to say the least. I slept on average three hours a night, and also spent on average, three-four hours a day driving between dates and I couldn't help but wonder how the hell people actually were going to survive the dreaded 20 day stretch they were in the midst of embarking on. People working the tour are truly braver than the Marines; spending six+ weeks with no privacy, working 12 hour days (sometimes longer), and dealing with the sun, heat, and other extreme weather conditions. Despite that, there is still such a strong sense of family among most on the tour and I was very warmly welcomed during my time spent with them.
The days are spent working in the hot sun, wondering why on this god forsaken planet people walk so damn slow, and waiting for tear down so you can forage for food and beer and start again tomorrow. Absolutely spent, you try and make yourself feel somewhat human and then you probably head to the BBQ, and if you were around this year you probably experienced a flip cup game with State Champs or a dance party with Every Time I Die and Yves. Those moments of laughter, and if I'm being frank, at times straight fuckery, are the moments that help you cope with the wears and tears of being on the road. Now granted, I know I only experienced five days at max so I wasn't feeling nearly as worn or shot as my pals cruising across the whole thing, but it's very easy to get sucked into the strong routine and familial bonds that are there.
I can't express how thankful I am for every moment I've shared with the tour and for every person I've met through it, good or bad, as each and every one has had an impact on who I am today. I've been able to go from a fan in '09 trying to see her favorite band (The Maine), to a girl with a dream she thinks is unattainable shooting the same band through Warped press in 2016, to a woman in 2018 still photographing that amazing band known as The Maine but now I've already made so many of my own dreams come true and I won't stop until I achieve bigger and better things. See Warped Tour may being leaving us (at least in the full country tour sense) but what it has instilled in me won't ever leave. That undying love for live music, the hustle, the passion for non-profits, the dream, those things won't die.
I mourn the loss of what will go down in history as the largest touring music festival, I embrace what is next to come. Reignite your passion, support the music and organizations you truly resonate with, take the pieces you love of Warped Tour most and carry them with you into the madness that is our planet. We will all be #ForeverWarped, always.