Ahh, Warped Tour. For those of us old enough to remember, Warped Tour had its heyday in the early 2000s when bands such as Blink 182, Sum 41, Good Charlotte and New Found Glory dominated radio waves, and stores like Hot Topic and Gadzooks set the standard for fashion for middle schoolers worldwide.
Maybe it was out of rebellion. Maybe, it was an adolescent way of dealing with the leftover anxiety brought about by the failure of Y2K. We will never really be certain as to why – all we know for sure is that between 2000-2008ish, preteens and teens everywhere were v emotional people who were just so “misunderstood.”
Over the years, the number of emo bands that perched cozily up on the Billboard charts has steadily decreased, and Gadzooks has gone out of business. EDM now dominates the music festival scene and Benji Madden has somehow landed Cameron Diaz.
Despite all the changes over the years, Warped Tour is still very much a thing and I would know.
This past summer I attended Warped for the second time as a member of the press. A child of the emo generation, the greatest irony of this newfound and glorious love of Warped is that I wasn’t even remotely into the genre during its reign.
Which begs the question, Why go if It’s not even cool anymore? Because, I could never live the way they want.
There are many emotions the 25-plus-year-old would feel the morning before they head off to the festival. Excitement, because duh; Concern, because LOL “I’m so old”; and anxiety because how on earth is any of-age human supposed to have fun without alcohol being sold on the premises (Warped is very famously a dry festival).
Now, being a #warpedtourvet, I thought it was my duty to break down the three main pillars of handling post-25-warped-stress-disorder, and how to not only survive, but thrive in such the setting.
Before leaving for any music festival I always make sure to have three things I don’t usually carry with me: snacks, toilet paper, and a hoodie. For warped, I was sure to throw in a Tampax box hiding a flask filled with whiskey. Having gone the year before, I remembered that security was pretty darn lax, and decided it was worth the risk. After all, whiskey is always worth the risk. Much to my delight, and just as I expected it would, the tampon thing totally worked. This method of deceit should probably only be used by female attendees; but hey, who am I to tell you how to live your life.
Pretend you’re someone else:
The best way to feel like you belong when you absolutely don’t? Pretend you’re someone else. After all, being true to yourself is so cliche. In this particular scenario, I opted to be a 20-year-old college student named Vanessa, majoring in psych and minoring in visual art. If you’re like me and you enjoy fcking with people, this will prove invaluable to your Warped experience. Inconsiderate and selfish motives aside, it’s also a great way to lose yourself in the moment, the music, and the crowd. After all, it’s only in your head you feel left out.
Enjoy that a more mature outlook on life and appreciation of things:
It’s safe to say that I have been to somewhere around 834344 music festivals in my professional career, and none of them target the socially conscience quite like Warped. In fact, I don’t think other festivals target much of anything at all, aside from people who drink and like food.
In addition to tents set up all along the festival grounds where bands stand to sign merch and greet fans, you’ll also find suicide prevention organizations, politically inclined non-profits hoping to inspire the youth to vote, and much more.
Being of older and wiser, these are definite highlights of Warped Tour; my friend and I spoke in great detail with the founders of Can You Hear Me — a “platform for teens and young adults to speak out, express themselves, and be heard without the lecture, judgment, hostility, conflict, condescension or reaction.” We walked away feeling inspired, and well informed — which is a lot more than I can say for basically any other music festival I had ever attended.
As a wise man-band once said, summer fling don’t mean a thing…But trust ya gurl, Warped tour is way more than a summer fling. It’s a hot topic that with memories that will last a lifetime.