I almost didn’t write this post. To try and put Warped Tour into words is next to impossible and to have to acknowldge that I will never have the experience again is something that brings me to tears. Warped Tour is something that means something different to everyone who has ever attended. Whether you find solace in the gathering of the freaks and music obsessed or you find it as an opportunity to see some of your favorite bands of all time alongside newer acts, Warped Tour means absolutely everything to many people.
Growing up without a Warped Tour near me broke my heart. The closest the tour ever came to Des Moines, Iowa was Minneapolis and that just seemed like too much to ask of my parents (although I’m sure my dad would have said yes to eight hours in the car just so I could experience it). I obsessed over every year’s DVD and would play them as loud as my TV would go to just pretend like I was there– like I was part of it. I had put Warped Tour on a pedestal and when I moved to the Twin Cities at age 17 for college, I finally had my chance to experience it in person. For the past eleven years, I knew that there would be one day in late July where I could see a bunch of my favorite bands and have the time of my life whether by myself or with friends. Although everything in my life seems to be changing at the blink of an eye, Warped Tour has been one of the few constants in this crazy thing we call life.
Like so many other festivals I attend, there are no words to describe the feelings that I felt yesterday as I watched some old favorite bands play alongside newer bands that have inched their way into my heart all the while being roasted by the sun as the blisters formed on the bottom of my feet. Sure, that doesn’t sound glamorous in any way, shape, or form but that miserable feeling is something that I think I am going to miss in the years to come.
I know there are many other festivals to look forward to each year including my personal favorite- Riot Fest- but there was something different about Warped Tour to me. Maybe it was because it was always a goal of mine to attend or even work a Warped Tour just once (I’m super bummed that I will never have a chance to work on Warped Tour as a crew member and that is something I will always regret not doing) but Warped Tour was more special than any other festival. The way that the crew would set up multiple stages, vendors, and everything else in just hours and have a festival for a couple of hours, pack up, and do it all again in a different city the next day was something that was beyond impressive. The fact that bands would play for months on straight outside in the elements in front of thousands of people each day was something that I was honored to be a part of even if it was just from the crowd.
Beyond the impressive logistics, Warped Tour is also my favorite because of the feeling you get. Even when walking through security and into the wonderland of merch booths, stages, and fried food, there’s a feeling of home that overcomes me more and more with every step I take. Although the cast is always changing, the feeling you get at Warped Tour never does. It doesn’t matter how bad the past couple of days, weeks, or even months have been, as soon as you walk into Warped Tour that all falls away and you are left with what’s really important in life- friends, fun, music, and smiles. It never matters who you see or who you miss band-wise because, honestly, it’s more about the experience than anything else.
There were too many highlights to list from yesterday. The Maine kicked off the day with a super positive and fun set that got me in the right mindset to make it through the rest of the day. Singing along to Four Year Strong as they powered through their short set left my voice raspy and my throat itchy. I danced my way through Reel Big Fish’s set with a smile on my face that left my cheeks sore. My friend and I screamed our way through 3OH!3’s set as we relived our angsty teenage years. Watching members of We The Kings and Simple Plan join 3OH!3 on stage was just the icing on the damn cake and, for a moment, that stage pretty much summed up a good couple years of my life. Honestly every band brought back a memory and left me with a feeling of almost euphoria that you can’t get from anything else.
Even if you were there, you didn’t get the feeling I got but you weren’t supposed to. Just like I have no clue how Warped Tour felt to you and the impact it has made on your life, you reading this doesn’t make you understand the impact it has had on my life nor should it. Some things just can’t be put in words because they just mean too much– to the point where they mean everything.
Thank you for everything Kevin Lyman. You created something that just can’t be described with words. You created an atmosphere where the freaks and music obsessed are allowed to be just that– freaks and music obsessed. Just like words can’t describe what my last Warped Tour was like– they also can’t convey the amount of thanks I have for Kevin and everyone who has ever been involved with Warped Tour. You guys created more than just a traveling festival- you created a constant in the lives of myself and many others.