Forever Warped

It was recently announced that the Vans Warped Tour will be making their final run in the summer of 2018 and with that announcement came some mixed feelings. As I scrolled through my twitter timeline, artists were expressing their thoughts and memories of the tour.

For many artists, the Vans Warped Tour was one that launched their career. Artists started out on little stages, walking around the festival grounds passing out fliers and CDs, meeting fans, just to get noticed and build a base. Many of these artists then gained a fan base which lead them to come back the following year and to bigger stages throughout their career.

“The Warped Tour introduced me to the counter-culture, the music and the DIY dream that inspired me to create and perform. Without it, I probably would not be where I am today. Honored to have been a part of the legacy. Thanks & everyone involved over the years.” – Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low

The Vans Warped Tour was a place where there were no boundaries between artist and fan. Everyone was equal and mixed together.

Warped Tour always felt like there was no gap between fan and artist. As soon as you walked in, you knew you were there WITH the bands not just for the bands. For that day you were apart of “the dream”. Extremely thankful to have been a part of it.” – Cameron Hurley

As for me, Warped was a place where I felt the most at home. It was a place where you could go and not feel like the odd one out, or be looked down on, you were just like everyone else. It was the one time out of the year you could see all the bands you love in one place and actual sit down and talk to them while eating a pizza slice the size of your face.

I have so many amazing memories of the Vans Warped Tour from seeing bands I love play live, to meeting them in person, to meeting new friends and more. I even remember being front row for some bands who only had 20 people in the crowd and then later that year seeing them all over social media and selling out venues. I think that is what made Warped so special to so many people.

If I had to narrow down my favorite moments to being just 3 they would be the following (in no particular order):

  1. The year my friends’ band played Warped as part of a Battle of the Bands event. They brought me along to help them set up their equipment. They were the last band to go on and right after them was Hot Chelle Rae. I remember being in the wings and Hot Chelle Rae came walking right up next to me and told me my friends’ band was awesome. Even though it would have meant more to my friends, it was still a surreal experience for me. After their set, HCR congratulated them and told us to stick around until after their set. When HCR was done we all went and got pizza from one of the venders and sat in some shade and talked for almost an hour.

2. Mayday Parade was in the prime of the pop punk era and I went to see their set at Warped. I was so far in the back of the crowd and being short, I couldn’t see a thing. Standing right next to me were two tall, bulky boys, probably in college. When they saw me struggling to see, they asked if I wanted a lift. I assumed they were going to just pick me up and put me on their shoulders (since we were towards the back of the crowd). But instead, they picked me up and threw me into the crowd and before I knew it I was crowd surfing. Now mind you, I was probably 15 at the time and I was barely 5 feet tall (I looked like I was 10) and here I was floating above the crowd. I got to the front and Derek Sanders looked at me and smiled. When the song was done he said that I was the smallest person he had ever seen crowd surf and that it was amazing. Just being mentioned by a member of Mayday Parade was enough for me to make my year. (And yes, the college dudes that lifted me up found me later and asked if I was okay since I was so tiny haha)

3. Finally, only a few years ago, I was volunteering at my university’s booth, Full Sail University. I had brought some snacks to munch on throughout the day and then was planning on buying some food there for dinner. Our booth was doing a signing for Blessthefall and I was in charge of the lines, making sure they were in order and out of the way of other festival activities. At the end of the signing, Beau Bokan was talking with the members and the other staff at my booth about grabbing food. One of the FSU staff members said that they were going to order out some food while everyone else went to catering. They asked me what I was planning on getting for food and when I mentioned that I was going to purchase some festival food they all looked at me like I murdered someone. Beau said that he wouldn’t allow that and that I should come back to catering. He didn’t know that I wasn’t a staff member for Warped and only a volunteer. So the FSU staff that wasn’t getting catering gave me their card and I went back to catering with Blessthefall. I went through the line, got a huge plate of food and sat at a table with them and just chatted. I got to know them a little more as people and they learned a bit about me. This was my favorite memory of the year.

These memories are my favorite because they broke the boundary of artist and fan. These moments stick out in my mind because it was the artist going out of their way, in one way or another, to make the experience one to remember for the attendees.

The Vans Warped Tour was one event of the summer that I always looked forward to attending. Yes, the attendance has been decreasing, and yes the line ups have been less to be desired in recent years. But, just like they say, all good things must come to an end, and the Vans Warped Tour has definitely left its mark in the hearts of artists, fans and music history.

You can read Kevin Lyman’s full statement and final tour dates here. Also, please share your favorite Warped Tour memories and feelings about the announcement in the comments. Make sure to read my other other post about the Vans Warped Tour.

-Stefanie

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