If you're not a part of the pop-punk scene, you might not know that the Vans Warped Tour is making its final full cross country tour this summer.
A little history... Warped Tour has been around for 24 years. It started in 1995 & was created by Kevin Lyman. It's the largest & longest running touring music festival in the United States & is geared most towards punk rock music.
I attended my first Warped in 2009 when I was 13.
I had recently gotten into punk music over the last couple years & my older brother had attended the tour the year before in 2008. When my friend & I decided we really wanted to go, he agreed to go with us, even though the music we were listening to at the time he wouldn't necessarily classify as "punk music."
We had no idea what we were doing, if my rolled up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt and pink aviators don't make that obvious enough... we were so excited though. I had never been to anything like this before, where your favorite bands play all day long, you can easily meet them, & everyone is just there for a good time listening to music.
I've been to other music festivals like Lollapalooza & it's just not the same (for myself at least), people go to Warped for the experience, not to wear a cute outfit & for the Instagram aesthetic.
When I say that this tour changed my life, I'm not being dramatic. This music & these bands truly shaped who I am. Punk music has always had a strong "don't give a f*%! about what people think about you" attitude to its music. When you're in middle school & high school & people are jerks about what you wear, what music you listen to, how you look, & anything in between, having music & band members that make you feel not as alone helps a lot along the way.
There's also a certain type of atmosphere at Warped that you can't get anywhere else. With people crowd surfing all over (& the possibility of getting kicked in the face that has happened to me multiple times), the annoying band guys trying to oversell their CDs, the strange things they have handed out for free over the years (anywhere from Arby's roast beef sandwiches, PeaceTea, Monster, iTunes downloads, melted candy, tacky sunglasses, to Trojan condoms). It's so weird & so much fun.
And if this isn't obvious enough already, I'm a die-hard pop-punk fan. I have had a lot of friends over the years that have liked certain bands in this genre, but most people grew out of it after a certain age. I never did. When I go to these shows & I'm seeing bands I've listened to my entire life, I'm not living out some "childhood" or "middle school" dream, these are bands I have always loved & always supported.
I have met every single one of my favorite bands throughout the years. Which I think is another side of how amazing Warped Tour is for people. We listen to these bands, we grow up with them & sometimes they don't even seem real. Once you see them live in front of you & meet them & have a real conversation with them (& smell what type of cologne they wear), it all changes. These people that have created music that have helped shape you & feel less lonely throughout your life, they're right there, & you realize they're just human too. There's no feeling like it.
The tour had changed over the years, they tried adding workshops & structuring the stages differently, I've seen hundreds of different sponsors come through the tour, some years the bands weren't the best, there's annoying people at the shows, people won't leave you alone about buying their merch, it's too hot, or something else goes wrong. In the end though, I would never change anything.
I've seen so many bands on the Vans Warped Tour, I can't even keep track. To compile a short list: 3oh!3, The White Tie Affair, Forever the Sickest Kids, All Time Low, We the Kings, I See Stars, The Ready Set, Breathe Carolina, Breathe Electric, Mike Posner (lol), Less than Jake, Motion City Soundtrack, Taking Back Sunday, NeverShoutNever!, The All-American Rejects, The Maine, Mayday Parade, Waterparks, As It Is, Prvis, This Story So Far, State Champs, The Academy Is..., A Day to Remember, The Ataris, Flogging Molly, Anarbor, Phone Calls From Home, Black Veil Brides, Artist Vs. Poet, Automatic Love Letter, BoysLikeGirls, Bring Me the Horizon, Cartel, Wallpaper, Metro Station, Go Radio, Pierce the Veil, Good Charlotte, Hey Monday, We Are the In Crowd, The Summer Set & honestly so many more that I'm sure I'm forgetting.
A handful of these bands have split up over the years or changed names or gone into solo careers. I've seen some of them more than 5 times & some of them only once, but every single one of them put on one of the best gosh darn shows each time I saw them.
I attended my first Vans Warped Tour in 2009 at the then, Verizon Wireless Music Center, in Noblesville, IN. From 2010 to 2017, my amazing mom attended all the other shows with me (in case you didn't know I have a really awesome mom that listens to the same music I do & loves concerts just as much as me). This was my first year going to Warped in a new state (Phoenix, AZ). My boyfriend, Brannon Muncey, went with me to the final show (he's NOT a fan of concerts, but was kind enough to go with me & try & have a good time). And even though I was in a different state & a different venue, it was just as amazing as it has been the last 9 years. Also, as I'm writing this blog post my mom is at Warped Tour RIGHT NOW in Noblesville. She FaceTimed me in so that we could get a photo together.
It's hard knowing that Warped Tour is coming to an end. It's a tour that I've grown up with & has been such a strong tradition in my life for 10 years straight. There's been countless memories made that a blog post just can't do justice. This is just a huge thank you to the Vans Warped Tour, Kevin Lyman, all the bands, all the companies, & all the people involved. It has been such a crazy & amazing time over the years that I will truly never, ever forget.