Saying Goodbye To Warped Summers

The last song of a Warped Tour was played on Sunday, in West Palm Beach and with Pennywise performing it. Huge props to Kevin Lyman, who put on the tour for 24 years. He managed to not only maintain a successful tour for over two decades, but evolve it to survive the entire period. It started as a punk dominated festival in its first decade. Then to the vein of a lot of vocal punks, found the blossoming Emo and Hardcore scenes as they were coming up in the 2000’s to let it thrive with the younger kids of that decade. Lyman did this while maintaining a reasonably affordable tour so those kids could catch their favorites in such volume in one place. So up front, a big thank you to Kevin Lyman and the team behind him that kept this going for twenty four years.

For me, my first Warped Tour was as the changeover started to happen in 2003. I still remember our local boys, Authority Zero, opened up what started as an overcast day at Peoria Sports Complex. The sun would quickly come out to heat up the baseball field to around 110 degrees while I caught acts like Less than Jake, Tsunami Bomb and Andrew WK. However, this would be the time I would encounter a learning experience about the heat. Heat exhaustion would take affect when I got up thirty minutes before NOFX was scheduled to play. I had only been drinking lemonade, and lucky for me I faded back from black while in line for water. It was a lesson I used to learn from as it didn’t deter me from coming back and knowing how to survive in 2004, 2005, and so forth.

I only skipped two or three in the time until it ended this year. I made many memories of watching favorites, like NOFX pictured above in the low resolution, phone picture from 2006, to discoveries of bands I never knew existed. A few of those discoveries over the years included Dead Sara, Larry & His Flask, and most recently Alestorm in 2017. The allure of Warped Tour included getting to meet these bands that I loved watching on that stage. For a stretch it was like I would pick up the latest Anti-Flag album at Warped and get it signed at their merch tent right after. Although, I think Less than Jake probably took the “I stood in line to always meet them at Warped Tour” cake.

There were awesome memories that made this feel like a summer camp. Just two years ago, we had Warren, of the Vandals, jumping up on stage to dance with the Interrupters. You found Roger taking over for Intruder Green during the Masked Intruder set. Then I will always remember in 2009, NOFX said they would get a bonus if the temperature went over 105. That joke lead right into Kevin Lyman running out and tossing out their “bonus” to the crowd. These are only a few of the great memories Warped Tour brought to me.

  • Warped Tour 2011

For all the bitching many of the punks would do about Warped, the tour always managed to fulfill enough bands for just the punk and ska fan in me. I established the three band rule about 2011, that there had to be three bands of interest for me to go out in that heat. Only once after that, in 2015, did it ever not fulfill that rule. To me, it feels like willful ignorance to just have a reason to complain. Just a year ago I was able to watch a majority punk and ska from beginning to end in 2017. There was War On Women, The Dickies, The Adolescents, Sonic Boom Six, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, Barb Wire Dolls, Strung Out, Doll Skin, and Playboy Manbaby. A few older punk bands, a few newer, and yet it was the regular vocal whining of old punks. Joke is on them, as I got to enjoy these performances while they sat at home complaining on the internet about how it isn’t punk anymore.

With that, let us get into my very last Warped Tour. I was lucky enough to have my camera on me so I took advantage of the all cameras allowed policy this year. Although the early time slot for Reel Big Fish had me hearing, but not inside in time to see them perform one more time at Warped Tour. However, I did manage to catch two songs of Sundressed. Honestly I didn’t realize they were on the large lineup, but a pleasant surprise to find them once I got in.

The first full set I caught this year was our fantastic young punk rockers, Doll Skin. The road has certainly shown them how to perform on that stage. They are always bouncing around, moving around, and smiling up there as they perform. All things that are not only are fun for them, but engage the crowd in the infectious energy given off.

These girls are always interacting on stage and out to the audience. Sydney does an amazing job in her engagement, talking to the crowd. Besides, I fucking love any band that has a song about punching Nazis. This was just the set I needed to get myself excited on the last Warped Tour.

In the oddly distant Journey’s Left Stage from the Right stage, I walked over to see Fenix TX. Although posted prior, I found it weird not seeing Will up there on vocals. On the flipside, Gage Armstrong, of Runaway Kids, did a good job filling in singing with Fenix TX. Nonetheless, I found it funny how on the nose it was that he wore a Runaway Kids shirt.

He probably spent more of the set on the barricade and mixing it up in the circle pit than actually on the stage. His enthusiasm went a long way assuring it was a fun set for all in attendance for Fenix TX. That, and he was constantly handing the microphone to fans to sing the lyrics they remember by heart. Despite no Will, this Fenix TX set was an enjoyment.

In the most continuous succession of bands for my day, I bounced to the Journeys Right Stage for Authority Zero. As you can tell by the angle of my photos, the dense crowd they attracted kept me mostly stage right. However, the heat was no deterrent for Jason and the band. They put forth perhaps my favorite set of the day. Dan was full of energy, not only doing his usual stage jumps but also one off of the speakers.

We found Jason asking for the giant circle pit around the sound booth one more time. He was another frontman this day that seemed to end up on the barricade more often than on the stage. With one last Warped Tour crowd surf moment for Jason, Authority Zero finished its last Warped Tour appearance.

From here, it was my first lull of the day. After a break in the shade thanks to Mike and the 80/20 Records team, I made my way to watch another local band, Hollowpoint Vigils. If you haven’t managed to catch this pair yet, they are a band that made a name playing punk rock more in the Hip Hop scene. That was until this past year, where they have been jumping into the punk scene frequently. It makes sense how they could fit into both once you see how they blend hip hop and punk rock in their music.

Sean is on vocals and guitar, while Dana shares in singing duties and drums. Sean will break out a song without the guitar to focus on rapping for a track while Dana keeps the beat. While not attracting the biggest crowd, they played a great set out there. It is with ease that I recommend you catch Hollowpoint Vigils at one of their upcoming shows.

After another break in the bands of interest for me, there was Assuming We Survive. This is a band that I first saw at Rebel Lounge. Adrian, their lead vocalist, gave a great first impression. Super humble after that set, asking if I enjoyed it and appreciated it. While I missed their last visit after that, I was making sure to catch them today. No argument that they lean to the pop side of the punk genre. Though with that brings one of the most positive and uplifting bands you can watch perform. Everyone is up there smiling and leaning out to the crowd. Adrian is one of the most positive and encouraging lead vocalist when he talks to the audience this side of Andrew WK.

He ended up taking full advantage of his wireless microphone at one point in their set. He asked the people walking by the stage to stop and listen to a song. After a gentlemen stopped, he asked would he like him to come to him or could that guy come close to the stage. When the gentleman that was passing by opted come to him, Adrian started the next song, started singing and jumped down to the crowd to sing. Adrian continued to roam around as he sang, eventually ending up sitting by the sound booth with a couple surprised girls in the shade. Only reinforcing the charm this band has when it comes to their performances. While I may not be able to catch Assuming We Survive performing at a Warped Tour again, I certainly aim to catch them again at a venue nearby.

From there, I would go to watch the Used, the last band I was going to see at a Warped Tour. By this time the space in front of the amphitheater stage was compressed and no longer allowing more bodies in. So I took the opportunity to take a camera shot or two, then I sat back in the seats to watch the rest. Bert McCracken was jumping around, like he was just infused with energy up there. That went a long way for the last set I would see at the touring festival. I survived the musical endurance run that is Warped Tour in the Phoenix summer one more time. I end this thanking Kevin Lyman for giving me fifteen years of memories with the Warped Tour.

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