You know how sometimes things just feel wrong from the moment you wake up? That’s how I felt Tuesday morning when I sprung (seriously) out of bed and did my IT’S WARPED TOUR, MOTHERFUCKAS feet-stomp on my bedroom floor. I felt so excited but also kind of disjointed, like something just wasn’t right. And on paper, it had all of the components of being the perfect day, because for the first time in years, the temperature was only going to be 79 degrees! Usually it’s almost 100 and we have sweat rolling down our backs before we even get through the gates.
My plan was to be out of the house by 8am so we could stop somewhere and have a real breakfast along the way, something better than the McDonald’s shit Henry usually plies me with on Warped Tour morn. I wanted pancakes or something, I don’t know. Something that would get me through the day.
But Henry ruined my plans as usual by being woefully unprepared so it was 9 by the time we pulled away from the house. Chooch was so tired that he brought a pillow from the couch and slept on it the whole way to First Niagra Pavilion, which is about 40 minutes outside of Pittsburgh, I guess. We hit all kinds of construction and had dumb Subway for breakfast which I didn’t want and then Henry got me HOT COFFEE from Starbucks instead of ICED COFFEE and the day was ALREADY RUINED, I COULD JUST TELL.
AND THEN, AFTER WAITING IN TRAFFIC FOR UNLIMITED MINUTES, HE PASSED UP THE ENTRANCE TO THE VENUE AND HAD TO TURN AROUND AND WAIT IN MORE TRAFFIC COMING FROM THE OTHER DIRECTION AND I WAS CRYING BY THEN.
But we finally parked, and gates still hadn’t opened yet so I was starting to calm down. Then Henry and Chooch had to go to guest services so Henry could get his complimentary Parent Ticket, so I stayed back and saved their spot in line. But then they never came back! They got in a different line! And Henry was texting me about how they walked past a camera crew that was potentially filming the next season of Warped Roadies and then he sent me a picture of Warped founder KEVIN LYMAN who happened to be standing near them and I was like “WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO MURDER MY FEELINGS!?”
But standing in that line alone for 40 minutes was about to prepare me for the rest of the day….so, thanks?
The best part, though, was that my line moved faster and I got inside way before they did. If you’ve never been to Warped Tour, the one thing you need to know is that the very first thing you’re going to want to do is run to the Inflatable, which has the day’s schedule on display. You can also buy a paper schedule for $2, which we always do, but the Inflatable will tell me much faster which bands are playing like RIGHTNOW which is important because shit starts as soon as those gates open. The one band I was looking for, The Marmozets, wasn’t listed on either the Inflatable or the paper schedule and I was like WHAT. #WarpedTourProblems.
I met up with Chooch and Henry in time to take Chooch’s picture with the Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! panda. (Pretty good band, too, if you’re into French pop punk and Goonies references.)
(Which I am, so…)
(And true to form, this was the second time in a row that I missed their goddamn set because of scheduling conflicts. #WARPEDTOURPROBLEMS.)
One of the smartest things bands do before the gates open is send someone around all of the lines with a sign that has what stage they’re playing on and when. That’s how I knew without even needing to consult with the Inflatable that To the Wind was playing at 11:15. I excitedly texted my friend Terri to tell her, because she likes them too and I told her I would report back.
I mean, if my WRONG COFFEE hadn’t already woken me up, I could have for sure counted on To the Wind’s set to have me thoroughly caffeinated. Nothing better some gritty hardcore for breakfast.
This was around the time that we started to realize Chooch wasn’t just tired, but possibly ill. He started out standing during To the Wind’s set, but then ended up sitting down Indian-style, right next to a bunch of guys who were hardcore dancing so I had to be Chooch’s human barricade. I thought he was just being a lazy jerk at first, but then as we were walking to another stage, he was like, “My head, throat and stomach hurt really bad” and I’m no nurse, but I was able to piece those clues together and hypothesize that perhaps my son was sick.
Weird, hunched-over gait. Not asking for every single shirt he saw in Merch Alley. Only taking a few timid licks of an ice cream cone and refusing pizza, chicken strips and a cheeseburger. Yep, my kid was sick.
I at least got him to take one selfie with me, but this was during the first hour and he hadn’t yet reached the pinnacle of his plague. Henry was actually going to just take him home and then come back that night to get me, but then we saw that the Summer Set was doing a meet and greet later than afternoon and asked Chooch if he wanted to do it. That sprung him to life a little bit, so we bought a Summer Set shirt and got a skip the line ticket. Then Henry took Chooch to the hillside and let him sleep under the shade of the trees while I ran off and did my own shit.
This was Henry’s view while he sat next to Sleeping Chooch:
I really wish Henry would take some fashion risks like that. But NO: non-descript t-shirts until the motherfucking day he dies.
Obligatory Warped Tour photo of me being blissed-out and Henry hating his life.
I miss this scene already.
A lot of the bands I follow on Instagram were like SERIOUSLY, CHECK OUT K. FLAY AT WARPED TOUR! so I did and she was alright. Kind of like if God changed his mind and made it possible for two men to conceive a child together and Mike Posner and Bizzie Bone decided to give it a whirl and next thing you know, we’re welcoming K. Flay into the world. She had a very laid-back California hip hop vibe going on and it was mildly entertaining, but not enough that I was like, “HOLY SHIT I MUST BUY HER SHIT RIGHT NOW.” Still, it’s always cool to see a girl killing it on any stage at Warped Tour.
Speaking of, some low-tier music journalist wrote a piece about how Kevin Lyman hates women because he doesn’t have enough female bands at Warped Tour and usually I’m all for girl power, but I had to strongly disagree with her in this case. I don’t go to shows based on the gender of bands. I go based on if they sound good or not. Kevin Lyman should definitely NOT pick female bands just for the sake of meeting some imaginary, unspoken quota. Um, remember when he had Katy Perry there in 2008? God, that was just terrible.
The bottom-line is that this is just a male-dominated scene. Not on purpose. I just think that there aren’t a ton of girls who get into playing music and decide that they want to be in a hardcore or metalcore band, and that’s the genre that makes up most of Warped Tour. I think Kevin does a good job seeking out girl bands that he feels sound good and fit the criteria. It’s not his fault that there aren’t a ton to choose from.
In all the years I’ve been going to Warped Tour, the lack of girl bands has never crossed my mind.
THAT BEING SAID, I was really looking forward to seeing the Marmozets, which my pal Jason described to me as “Hayley Williams fronting Dillinger Escape Plan.” I’ve had hearts in my eyes ever since. Anyway, Jason told me yesterday that the Marmozets missed two weeks of Warped Tour because of goddamn Visa issues, so it wasn’t that they were playing on some invisible stage that I couldn’t find; they just weren’t there at all. Super sigh. Another day, Marmozets. #WarpedTourProblems
At one point, I came back from my rounds (which included having one of the YOUNG boys at the Clean Water refill station flirt with me, yessss) to find Henry and Chooch in this state:
That’s how we knew Chooch was definitely sick-sick: he kept saying he couldn’t feel the heat of the sun even though it was beating down on him. He had goosebumps, even. But every time he saw me, he would murmur, “Where’s my Summer Set shirt!?” and I would say, “In my bag” and then he would go back to sleep. He really did get a lot of rest there. I didn’t drag him around and make him do shit.
Soon, it was almost 2pm and I was faced with a terribly difficult decision: SAVES THE DAY OR BEARTOOTH?!?! UGHHH! In the end, I went with Beartooth only because I’ve seen Saves the Day before (god, I love them so much though, and it would have been nice to hear some stuff from their most recent album, UGH #WarpedTourProblems). Turns out though choosing Beartooth was life-changing. No, I’m not being melodramatic. Their set honestly breathed life into me.
Typically, I will stand off to the side because I’m “old,” scared of getting hurt, and Henry is usually with me and we all know Henry ain’t going in no motherfucking pit y’all. But this time I was alone. So I pushed my way further into the crowd, forgetting for the moment that I absolutely hate touching other people, and next thing I knew, I was getting pushed further and further into the pit and it was just what I fucking needed. Not that I generally feel like an old person, but something clicked during Beartooth and I felt like myself. Like the person I used to be a really long time ago before shitty Real Life changed me. I didn’t care what I looked like or who was looking at me or if I looked like a mom or if I was going to get hurt or if I was going to hurt someone. I just went in there and raged and even fought the urge to apologize when I jumped on someone’s foot and then I got to shove someone in a hammerhead shark costume and it was like a fucking awakening, like my own personal version of Cocoon and Caleb Shomo was my Steve Guttenberg. When he screamed, “You guys paid to come to Warped Tour, and it’s up to you to make the most of it, so get the fuck up!” I screamed myself hoarse, because FUCK YES I WANT THIS TO STILL BE THE BEST DAY EVER! Yes, there were some roadblocks, poor Chooch was sick, there weren’t any of my favorite bands there, but goddammit: IT WAS STILL WARPED TOUR. And that was all I needed to have my day saved.
It also didn’t hurt when Davey from Vanna come out to guest-scream. God, he’s fucking hot. Basically, I walked away from that stage wanting 57 different Beartooth tattoos and a membership to their fan club. Do bands still have fan clubs, or am I REALLY being a 35-year-old right now?
Soon after, it was time for me to collect Henry and Chooch so we could get in line for the Summer Set meet and greet, which was a huge cluster and Henry was having a hard time holding himself back from assaulting the throng of fangirls who kept encroaching on us.
I missed Every Time I Die while waiting in this never-ending line with Chooch, so next time he tries to say I’m a horrible mom, I’ll be sure to throw this back in his face. I DID THIS FOR YOU, SON. #WarpedTourProblems
Chooch was able to muster enough energy to stand up and smile with the Summer Set. He adores them so much and knows all the words to their songs. They’re not really my cup of tea, but at the same time, I don’t mind when he puts them on. It could be way worse, you guys. They really pushed people through as fast as possible: you’d get to the front, give some dude your phone, pose, then split. It was like a factory line, but trust me: I’ve seen how long these lines get and they have to do what they can to keep things in control, so it wasn’t like it was overtly rude or anything. However, when it was Chooch’s turn, he went to walk away after the picture was taken, but they called him back over and each one gave him a high-five. I thought that was super sweet, so it made me like them a lot more and I didn’t groan or act put-out when we had to watch their set later. (It was actually pretty fun.)
But first I had to go see my favorites in Of Mice & Men! They were a last minute addition to the Warped roster and I was really happy because they’re always so good.
Here’s an accidental video I took of some dude’s underwear, which I found on my phone the day after and couldn’t stop laughing, so I showed Chooch and he was like “I MISSED OF MICE & MEN?! UGH!” :(
They have played my favorite song by them—“Second & Sebring”—every single time I’ve seen them, but not this time. I was like, “WHAT ARE YOU KIDDING THAT’S IT YOU’RE DONE!?” when they played their last song and said goodbye. *WarpedTourProblems
Chooch was able to hang on long enough to watch The Summer Set, but the poor kid had to sit down in the parking lot through the whole thing.
The struggle is real. #WarpedTourProblems
Here are two different angles of Henry hating his life:
Even though he was feeling like shit, his little lips still moved along to all of the words, and at the beginning of each song, he would look up at me and tell me what song it was. He was especially rejuvenated when they played “Fuck You Over” because OMG a song that enables him to swear freely. We left after their set, around 6:00, which sucked but he wasn’t getting any better. I was torn between Mom and Teenager: I wanted to leave so my kid could get better rest, but the spoiled teenaged brat side of me was like, “I’M NOT DONE HERE!” In all honesty, there was really only one more band that I really wanted to see, so it wasn’t that big of a sacrifice.
The next day, Chooch (feeling much better) was looking at the schedule and lamenting over all the bands we missed. “We missed Crown the Empire!” he cried. If he wasn’t my precious kid, I would have been like, “YEAH AND IT’S YOUR FAULT!” like when Christina’s sister made us leave early in 2007 and I wasn’t done yet and I still complain it 7 years later, clearly. But instead I just felt super bad for him because he really honestly wanted to see some of the bands there. Of all days to get sick.
“I felt so much better during Summer Set,” Chooch said with melancholy. “My throat stopped hurting and everything. But then when they were done, my throat started to hurt again and I wanted to leave.”
And then he asked, “What was that first band we saw?”
“To the Wind,” I replied. “You hated them, didn’t you?”
“No!” Chooch yelled incredulously. “I was really enjoying them! I just had to sit down because my legs were hurting. BECAUSE I WAS SICK.” We’re going to be hearing about that for quite some time, I think. But then we started talking about how one of the guys in To the Wind has a prosthetic leg, so that distracted him from filing his emancipation paperwork.
Chooch wore his Summer Set shirt for the next two days until I finally made him change because have you seen how heavily my kid sweats? Also, I love that he’s not deterred by a shirt with flowers on it.
I still have post-Warped Tour sadness, even though it didn’t go off without a hitch, it was still my Christmas in July and I made sure it was a beautiful day. Like Beartooth preached: Warped Tour is all in what you make of it. I could have sat around and pouted, but I didn’t. I waited all year for that day and fucking hell, I was going to make the most of it. Besides, I know that next year will be better. So let the countdown begin!
(This was probably the best Warped Tour Henry has ever been to because he literally got to sit the whole time and not have his dumb beard bristled by banshee-like bands.)