On Saturday, June 30, the energy around the final Warped Tour was palpable. There was the usual buzz of excitement with a twinge of the bittersweet. Warped Tour was my coming of age. I moshed to my favorite bands, discovered new music and forged friendships that have lasted to this day. As a final goodbye to this iconic festival, I asked Warped veterans and newcomers their thoughts on Warped Tour ’18:
SLUG: What is your favorite aspect of Warped Tour?
“The camaraderie, the community. People care about each other’s music and support each other any way they can,” says Gregory Mark, solo artist and Warped Tour performer from San Francisco, California.
“Kevin Lyman has created a place for musicians of all styles to come and be able to play,” says Warped Tour stage manager Blest Brando. “Everyone gets to be equal for a day.”
“This is where everyone gets together to listen to music,” says Brenner Steadman from Salem, Utah, who has attended since 2014. “I come from a smaller town, so it’s nice to be around super-cool people where everyone likes similar music.”
“Simple Plan, that’s how I made it through my teenage years,” says Kate Kirchner, who is at her first Warped Tour and first concert. “This is just so new, but it’s been a really good experience so far.”
SLUG: What is your best Warped Tour memory?
“Being on this journey with my bros, being able to travel and express ourselves. Doing this medicine music for the people, [being able to] express our light and shine it on them,” says Artson, hip-hop artist and Warped Tour performer from El Paso, Texas.
“The best time ever was seeing Fall Out Boy in ’08,” says Jesse Hunt, from Hazleton, Idaho. “Sucks that we won’t get to do this anymore. We looked forward to the party at Warped Tour every summer.”
“I went crowd surfing during Neck Deep, and that was my first time,” says Colton Simpson from Logan, about Warped Tour ’17. “I just barely started going, and now I can’t go anymore. I had to come to this one at least.”
SLUG: What brought you out to Warped Tour?
“I haven’t been since I was 17, and it’s the last Warped Tour. Life just got away from me, and I haven’t been going to concerts as much. I needed to start going again,’” says Jared Hansen from Boise, Idaho.
“This is our first time at Warped Tour—we came on a whim. This is the last one; we had to go,” says Cindy Romo of Salt Lake City.
“There were only a handful of bands I wanted to see today,” says Whitney Dickerson of Salt Lake City, who came for State Champs, Waterparks and The Maine, “but it was enough that it was worth it.”
SLUG: How do you feel about Warped Tour coming to an end?
“Part of me doesn’t believe it. Part of me thinks they’re going to bring it back,” says Kiera Anderson from Draper.
“All things must come to an end, but when things die, new things are born,” says Gregory Mark. “So out of this, something bigger and better will come.”
Special thanks to everyone who stopped to chat with me at the last Warped Tour; you’ve made the experience unforgettable. You can find Gregory Mark at gregorymarkmusic.com and Artson at artson.bandcamp.com.
And now, a farewell letter from SLUG Senior Staff Writer James Orme:
A Farewell to Warped Tour
My first time at Warped Tour was one of the best days of my life. Seems like a strange thing to say about a sweltering July day at the Fairgrounds, where I spent a good portion of my time trying not to get hit in the face, but an amazing day anyway. I went with my best friend, Bart, and his older brother, Jay. We got there, and after waiting forever in line to get in, we were drawn to the sounds of the only band playing, Grinspoon. If hearing hardcore punk for the first time wasn’t shocking enough, I found myself on the edge of the first mosh pit I’d ever seen. All of a sudden, I felt a push from behind, and Bart and I were thrown into the middle of the mêlée for the next 30 to 40 seconds. I just did everything I could to stay on my feet. The song ended, the crowd cleared, and I saw Bart with a face full of blood. We’d been inside for all of five minutes, and Bart had his nose broken. He went to the first aid station, and in order for him to stay, he had to have his mom come down and give her approval. After, I remember seeing Anti–Flag for the very first time. At the time, I didn’t know that their lead singer had gotten sick and had to leave the tour, so their bass player took over on vocals—that just always struck me as the most punk rock thing ever, that not only did they kill it that day, but they did it without their main guy. I also saw the Dropkick Murphys for the first time that day, and even though there was some ugliness as far as them fighting with the crowd, I was still so astonished that such a band existed that you could marry two seemingly different genres—Irish folk and punk rock was a new, exciting concept to me. Probably the band that got me there more than any other at the time was Blink-182, and they were fun, but The Vandals—who ended the day—absolutely slayed it for the diehards that stuck around for the finale. I knew what punk rock was before that day, but it was that first Warped Tour that made me call myself a punk rocker.
I would go to the next five years straight of Warped Tours with those same friends, seeing amazing bands, chasing girls and having adolescent adventures. I remember wandering around and just being drawn in by the sounds of One Man Army, a great band whom I might’ve never even heard of, much less seen live if it hadn’t been for Warped Tour. There was the year they tried to include a bunch of hip-hop acts, and while passing by, I watched a few minutes of Eminem and Ice-T. I knew it wasn’t for me, but I remember being impressed by it. Nothing lasts forever, and the end had to come one day, but I don’t if anything will ever be quite like what Warped Tour gave me. Now an old man of 35, I haven’t been to a Warped Tour in quite a while. I began to recognize fewer and fewer bands on the lineup, and my friends and I slowly started to pull away, as that happens when you get older. But those golden memories of loud, fast music in 100-degree heat, packed in with thousands of other weirdos, will always be there for me.
See ya in the pit!