I keep putting off recapping Warped Tour for a couple reasons: it was the last one ever and I needed to let the feels marinate for a bit before spooning it into the thought pot, I’m really blog-ambivalent these days, but mostly because there just isn’t really that much to say this time.
This sounds like we had a horrible time and I can assure you it wasn’t that. In fact, aside from early morning sniping, it was actually the first Warped Tour since Chooch started going with us that we got through the whole entire day without even the TINIEST quarrel. Give us a fucking ribbon at the Family Behavioral Fair, motherfuckers.
It just very much felt like we were going through the motions. For instance, the gate we normally enter through didn’t appear to be open this year so we had to get in a much-longer line for the main gate and I didn’t even feel the tiniest bit anxious about this because it didn’t matter to me when we got in. WHY, YOU ASK? GOOD QUESTION. Because there wasn’t one single band in the lineup that I was super-stoked to see.
Granted I know that I have been out of the loop for a year or two but even the old bands on the list were like Zzzzzzzz for me.
SO WHY DID YOU BUY A TICKET, DUMMYTURKEY?! Great question! Because I still love the atmosphere and the vibes and I wanted to see it through to the end. GOD DONT YOU READ MY BLOG I ALREADY WROTE ABOUT THAT.
One thing I want to want to mention before I move on to other things is that for as huge of a festival that Warped Tour is, we have never really had a bad “waiting in line” experience. The credit probably goes to the venue, but they do such a stand-up job getting everyone inside the gates at a speedy, safe pace. (KCON/PRUDENTIAL CENTER SHOULD STUDY THIS PROCESS!)
The whole time we were in line though, I kept checking the Warped Tour socials for the “magic word” to get the first 200 people free shit at the Vans tent but I never saw one! So that was kind of a let-down. I had notifications turned on for the Warped Tour app and never received a single alert all day long which was strange…this was one of the reasons why it just didn’t feel right this year.
Chooch got to play games so he was happy. That was all he was looking forward to since the lineup was so “meh” this year.
This was us sitting in the pavilion (all these girls at Warped Tour with their perfectly matte faces while I’m over here looking like I could moisten a whole loaf of week-old bread with my face), waiting 35 minutes for the Maine to come on which never happened because I didn’t make the connection that for the first time ever, there was only one stage under the pavilion?! Usually, it’s the Journeys Left Foot and Journeys Right Foot, but this time they were separated so only one of the “foots” was under the pavilion and guess what guys it wasn’t the one that the Maine was playing on so my tradition of going to Warped Tour every year and never seeing the Maine continued. It’s good to end things with a perfect streak sometimes, you know?
Also, there was a fifteen minute delay on every stage but I thought it was only on three of the stages because I didn’t read the inflatable schedule correctly and basically, if I had any vested interest in seeing any particular band, I would have probably been met with disappointment.
It was just weird how this day started off with CHANGES and that just led to a strong feeling of disorientation for the rest of the day.
If you know what I mean.
Do you know what I mean?
I’m the type of person who totally loses her mind when there is even a tiny sprinkle of aberration in a schedule.
But can I just say again how weird it was to not be literally sprinting from stage to stage in an effort to see all of my scene-faves? A Warped Tour without Emarosa is bad enough but there really wasn’t any post-hardcore for my soul that day.
We did accidentally see a hardcore band called Sharptooth though and I was immediately sucked in because the screamer was a girl and she was fierce as fuck. After the first song, she plowed right into a fiery speech about #MeToo and the crowd was backing her so hard with energetic cheers, and all I could think was, “Can we claw-drop all of the Ronnie Radkes on this tour into the front row and make them listen to this hard truth?” What irony, you know? This band promoting safe spaces, speaking out against domestic/sex abuse, rape, the mental illness stigma, while so many shitty bands full of shitty motherfucking abusers were running rampant on in the same venue because Kevin Lyman doesn’t want to lose money by banning their asses from Warped Tour. This strong, outspoken female could have eaten Jonny Craig alive and made Ronnie Radke shit his pants.
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After the first song, the badass frontwoman of Sharptooth stood up and made everyone listen to some REAL TALK about sexual violence and SPEAKING OUT and I wish all the Ronnie Radkes on Warped Tour right now had been forced to stand in that crowd and face THAT music. Preach, girl, PREACH. 💪🏼
CAN YOU SEE WHY THIS WAS HARD FOR ME!? On one had, Warped Tour is supposed to be this safe haven for all walks of life, socially conscious with tons of really great (and I mean super fantastic) organizations there every summer spreading awareness for depression, suicide, LGBTQ, breast cancer. They have food drives at every city and a tent where you can get swabbed to be a bone marrow donor. (I almost wrote donater.)
But then it’s also a huge parking lot full of band dude debauchery, statutory transgressions and other things that go in on those tour buses that I don’t want to even think about because ew.
On that note though, I noticed a HUGE influx of families in attendance. This was usually not the case, so maybe it was all those grown-up punks wanting to revisit the scene for Warped’s swan song, but goddamn there were A LOT of children there. The first year we brought Chooch, it was 2013 and he was quite literally one of maybe three under-15 kids there, to the point where he was getting a lot of attention and double-takes (and a lot of free swag!). I remember getting a lot of shit from people who thought it was a bad idea for us to take him at that age (he was 7) but you have to consider the fact that Henry and I were already extremely experienced at this and Chooch was literally raised on this kind of music. I mean, he tell you the names of the singers of probably 15 bands that were there that year.
So this was another thing that made our last Warped Tour feel….sterile? Is that the word I want? Yes. Let’s go with sterile.
Also, Chooch is barely even a kid anymore! It’s weird that he won’t ever get to experience Warped Tour with his friends. We used to joke that once he was in high school and his friends finally started getting into this stuff, he would have already been to like 10 Warped Tours! But now I guess we’ll have to see what kind of thing makes a move on Warped’s demographic.
LOL, Henry put so much effort into his Warped Tour outfit.
He was so funny on the way there that morning. Traffic was super backed up as we got closer to the exit for Key Bank Pavilion (will always be StarLake to me) and he was like, “Oh hell no” so he morphed into Professional Driver Henry and cut in front of every car sitting in mile-long Warped Tour traffic, drove over DO NOT CROSS lines, and slid right into a small opening in the front of the line and then said “I literally do not give a fuck.” He just wanted this day to be over, guys. It was actually super impressive.
Full disclosure, I had never heard of the band Lighterburns before but when I saw this sign, I screamed, “YES, I DO AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT” and promptly whipped out my credit card and by that I mean I had to chase after Henry who was pretending not to hear me and then shake him down for money because like why would I bring my own stuff lol.
Yeah, you do.
Anyway, after that I felt I would be remiss to not check out their set so I went back to the small stage that the lesser-known bands are relegated to, and I really liked them! I wish they had been able to accumulate a bigger crowd, but Warped Tour is a crapshoot like that sometimes. Anyway, here is one of their videos, go support them because they’re fighting the good fight.
Hahahahahahaha, probably my favorite picture from that day!
Chooch is too cool for the big slip-n-slide now I guess, even though he practically got pruned skin from the amount of time he spent in it at his first Warped Tour!
Seasoned veteran at age 12.
Since there were no must-see bands for me, I was able to meander about leisurely and just soak up the vibes, which actually was the best way for me to have closure. It was nice to just listen to all the screaming, get in some prime people-watching, and check out all the merch, like Choonimals! We of course bought their special edition Warped Tour design and said a sad goodbye to Chad, who takes Choonimals on the road with Warped Tour every year.
“This sucks, I feel like this part of the Warped Tour tradition for us, buying a Choonimals shirt,” I said to Chad and he admitted that he has no idea what he’s going to do with his summers now, but assured us that Warped Tour would still be around in some capacity. It sounds like it just not going to be a cross-country tour anymore, but that they will still have events. Maybe something like a west coast and east coast festival? I probably wouldn’t road trip for it, because I can’t imagine any bands in the scene right now inspiring me to travel, so this probably was my last Warped Tour.
Chad gave us all high-fives and thanked us for supporting the brand all these years. I’m not going to lie, I AM TEARING UP RIGHT NOW AS I TYPE THIS. Go check out Choonimals, their shirts are top-notch and the designs are just really great. I guess I’ll be buying all my future Choonimals online from now on, sigh.
Truth is always making people stop and play their dumb games which is right up Chooch’s alley. He always gets free shit from them every year and this time he played some stupid ninja game and chose yellow sunglasses as his prize because they reminded him of the $230 pair of Gentle Monsters that we wouldn’t buy him in Korea, lol, keep dreaming, kid.
Gonna miss sitting on this hill. Gonna miss these tents. Gonna miss the sunburn and the how amazing it feels to take a shower after enduring the heat all day. Apparently, it was so hot that day that the local EMS was calling it a “mass casualty incident” and it was all over the news. I had no idea about any of this, but it explains why three different people at work the next day were like, “I was so worried about you, there was a mass casualty incident!” and I was like, “Wow, how weird that all of these people are using the same word for it.
Then I found out that the singer of Waterparks, Awsten Knight, saw the news crew and ran over to give a statement, but he said he was Kyle Fletchers from December’s Tragedy and this is so fucking hilarious to me to think of people watching this and wondering if their kids like that band. Henry thought it was stupid but NO HENRY, YOU ARE STUPID.
Warped Tour apparently made him a new tour badge after that, hahaha. Oh, Awsten. We fucking missed Waterparks because of how the schedule was jacked all day and they were honestly one of only 4 bands I had any desire to see that day.
We stuck around long enough to 3Oh!3’s first three songs, because it felt symbolic since they were at the first Warped Tour that Henry and I attended together in 2008 (10 years ago! in case you can’t do math). They were largely unknown at the time and I remember thinking at first, “These guys are stupid” but half a song in, I was trying to get them to play at my imaginary prom. I remember exactly what stage they played on that year too, it was one of the ones under the pavilion, where the smaller bands performed back then. Katy Perry performed on that stage that year too and they both exploded into the mainstream right after that. It was nuts.
So even though we were all super fucking hot, tired, and hungry, we stuck around long enough to see some of their songs (“Oh, I know who they are now!” Chooch cried almost immediately after he kept insisting that he didn’t) and then we all decided to throw in the towel by 7pm. I mean, I certainly didn’t want to stick around for shitty Falling In Reverse and I gave no shits about any other band playing after that anyway.
I thought I would be OK, but I still found myself stalling, knowing that once we exited those gates, that was it. The Book of Warped Tour was closed. I know it probably sounds like we had a not-great time, but the fact is that it was just right. I didn’t have high expectations going in so I wasn’t let down. I knew the line-up and wasn’t shocked that there wasn’t anyone I was dying to see. I bought all the merch I needed. None of us fought. Chooch spun wheels and won things, Henry fell asleep.
It was enough for me. And it made me appreciate my new lifestyle even more, because I just connect with the Warped Tour stuff anymore and that’s OK. Maybe if they would have recreated the 2008 lineup, or the 2012 one, I would have been more stoked. There was a post-hardcore void, and it’s obvious that the kids are moving away from that genre, so it was another reason for me to make peace with the end of an era.
But I will tell you one thing, later that night, I lost all control of myself and started sobbing into Henry’s chest because it finally hit me. I know that this wasn’t something I did in my childhood, but it still had that feeling to it! Like it was some weird delayed coming-of-age moment for me, lol, I don’t know. Warped Tour was a big part of my life for many years and I will cherish those memories forever. But now I can fully embrace this new season of life I’m getting into, without having one foot stubbornly stuck in the old one.
Warped Tour, you will forever have a place in my heart. <3