As the longest running and largest traveling music festival in the USA, the Van’s Warped Tour has become somewhat legendary. However, with the recent takeover of electronic music festivals, Warped is seemingly revered mostly for reasons of nostalgia and the wonder days of high school past.
But that’s exactly what Warped tour offers, unmatched by it’s “competitors” — a non-compete.
The offer to attend Van’s Warped Tour came to us when we were covering Mysteryland.
“Hey, do you guys want to cover Warped this year? I can give you all access bands. It’s really fun.”
BB, you had us at all access.
Neither of us (my editor and I) had ever been to Warped before, listened to/knew any of the bands playing, or had any idea what we were getting ourselves into.
We were, however, fully prepared to have as much fun as possible. Because that’s exactly what we do, wherever we go. And in that, Van’s Warped Tour did not disappoint.
20something came, saw, conquered..and danced on stage with Family Force Five. And now, your 360.
To the 16-year-old who has been waiting to go to the Warped Tour your entire life, and your parents finally let you go:
First of all, welcome and congratulations. As a teenager, the Warped Tour is one of the only music festivals you can attend before turning 21. This is a true bucket list moment and you deserve to make the absolute most of it.
Whether you’re anxious to see your favorite band or you’re traveling with a color-coded map labeled with set times and autograph signings, you most likely have a planned day ahead.
Here’s a word of advice: unplanned is the best way to go. Wander around aimlessly, even if it’s only for an hour or so. Stumble upon a band you’ve never heard of. Crowd surf. Stand in a random line and see what’s at the end of it. The Warped Tour is filled to the brim with unexpected surprises, take advantage of them.
To the mom or dad being dragged to Vans by your dear child:
Sorry. That’s really all I can say. If I were you, I would look for other parents in despair and see who snuck in alcohol. It’s going to be a long and very hot day surrounded by overzealous teens trying to get their party on in the most conspicuous of ways.
People-watching may be your best bet to get through the day. With such a varied crowd, you’ll definitely see some entertaining things on and off stage. Find a shady spot, grab about three water bottles, and enjoy. Or at least try to enjoy.
To the one who has been to the Warped Tour about 946592 times, now you’ve realized you might be a little old for this:
Well, no one forced you to bring your bearded ass to a teen concert. After about three years, you might want to hang up the towel and move on to bigger festivals. What’s the fun in predictability?
During my time spent at the Warped Tour, I met a few vets. By the end of the day I found them camped out near the portable toilets, bored out of their minds. Obviously. My advice to those who have made this a yearly tradition? Don’t make this a yearly tradition.
To the 25-year-olds who somehow got all-access passes and have actually never been to a Warped Tour a day in your life:
Ah, this was us. Mid-20 newbies. We thought sobriety was going to be the death of us, but after the heat kicked in we were thankful for the lack of alcohol in our system. Honestly, our youthful faces helped us blend in effortlessly, but it was our supreme skill of singing along to songs we had never heard that allowed the true Vans fans to accept us as one of their own. So much in fact, that a random 18-year-old girl leaned over to me in the middle of “Our Last Night’s” set and yelled “Do you want to crowd surf?!” Hell yea bitch. As I lay back atop the crowd of screaming high schoolers I never felt more alive.
After circling the perimeter about six times, we became vaguely familiar with the set up. It was actually pretty simple. The bands would play their set, then retire to their designated tent for autographs. As we were not diehard fans of any of the bands, we opted out of the hour long wait to meet the bands. Plus, we had the coveted all-access wrist bands that allowed us to slum it backstage. (Even though we only used them to find outlets for our consistently dead phones.)
At one point, we found ourselves wandering backstage for absolutely no reason, when a man said “do you want to dress up in neon suits and get on stage with Family Force 5?” …uh, yea.
In about 20 minutes we found ourselves in a giant plastic suits jumping across the stage in front of hundreds of screaming fans with a band we had never heard of, which we obviously became instant fans of.
To be honest, the Warped Tour is just like any other unexpected event you may find yourself at – it’s what you make of it. As a 24-year-old hip hop fan, I never expected to have more fun than most of the other attendees. Thankfully, I lacked the insecurities of a 16-year-old surrounded by her peers and was able to be myself and have the best time I possibly could.
If you’re going to do the Van’s Warped Tour, do it in style.