I remember my first Van’s Warped Tour. It was back in 2005 on June 26 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater Lot. It was my first music festival where I had my first rundown with sweaty dudes, obnoxious drunks, self- conceited fans, excessively belligerent moshers, and boring sideliners. And although, I probably looked like another punk-angst ridden teenager, dressed in nothing but black and my worn-out Nirvana shirt (Hey, I was 14), I still had a great time and was able to revel in those few hours of my newfound adolescent freedom.
Fast forward six years later, and much really hasn’t changed. Warped Tour has already garnered the reputation of a festival ensuing in a sweaty frenzy filled with mosh pits and crowd surfing. It has gathered an eclectic fan base ranging from death black clad goths, hardcore skaters, to the misunderstood punks, and rebellious teens. And to many just like myself, Van’s Warped Tour has been considered a rite of passage for the youthful hearts of adolescents.
Van’s Warped Tour is often the platform where many unknown artists break through the underground scene into mainstream success. Famous acts such as Eminem, Katy Perry, Blink 182, Fall Out Boy, and My Chemical Romance all have the Vans Warped Tour to accredit for their fairly quick ride to stardom. And although Vans Warped Tour will always uphold a humble mentality, it seems as if this year is a revert back to the classics; celebrating the bands that have gone from nameless, broke acts to headliner fan favorites. Featuring bands like Rise Against, Taking Back Sunday, and Yellowcard, that released the nostalgic hits of, “Swing Life Away,” “Cute Without the E,” and, “Ocean Avenue,” Warped Tour is gaining back the older and once-faithful fans of years past.
Also, by showcasing the pop-punk acts of All Time Low and New Found Glory, and the punk rock bands of Anti-Flag and Pierce The Veil, Warped Tour is definitely playing it safe by shedding its “otherness” luster that it is often known for. Instead of taking risks as it has in the formative years by taking on unconventional artists- circa 1999 by booking Eminem and The Black Eyed Peas- this year seems to appeal to the typical Van’s Warped Tour fan. However, this doesn’t mean that the Warped Tour plans to revert to old tactics. In a need to adapt to tastes and costs and remain a formidable contender against other festivals, expect to see lowered cost on water, two main stages, the addition of a silent disco stage (a la Bonnaroo), and a decrease in the number of performing bands.
This isn’t to say that Kevin Lyman, the entrepreneur aficionado behind the cacophonous chaos, has left blindside to the true redeeming quality behind Warped Tour: the “room for no rock star,” point of view. There is no room for big egos, or pretentious musicians. On the Warped Tour, everybody and nobody are rock stars as the bands endure all the same highs and lows of the nearly two-month festival- from its long rides in cramped busses and flaring heat, to the devoted, die-hard fans and the adrenaline-charged performances.
So as the Warped Tour embarks on its 18th year of raucous chaos, it will continue to serve as the initiation rite for the alienated and restless youth across America. “There’s punks everywhere,” states Kevin Lyman. “Punk angst is still out there, it’s just coming out in different ways now.” Although, the “new punk” may involve the stupidity of a little more flailing and kicking, it still doesn’t invalidate the youthful and lively vigor present in the hearts of many young teens- making warped punks out of them all.