The Vans Warped Tour
Riverbend Music Center
30 July 2008
For most people, summer starts at baseball season. For the rest of us, summer starts with the Vans Warped Tour. Now in its 14th year, Kevin Lyman and crew continue in the tradition of summers past and managed to give fans a total entertainment package. This year, there is a little something for everyone. Like pop? No problem. Check out Anberlin. Like metal? No problem! Check out All That Remains. Part of the Fuelled by Ramen Faithful? The ever present The Academy Is…, Gym Class Heroes, and Cobra Starship will definitely be up your alley. Posi-punk? Four Year Strong Psychobilly? The Horror Pops Imported noise? Bring me the Horizon what’s that you say? You don’t like music? No problem! This year, Lyman gave fans the opportunity to go head to head with their favourite proskateboarders on the half pipe set up just out side of the mainstage.
The main draw, though, is and will always be the music. Any band worth their mettle within this scene has cut their teeth on the warped tour circuit. You earn your preverbal right to tour by surviving warped, with the utmost respect going to the rookie bands who insist on trekking across America in the middle of summer in vans and rvs, depending on the kindness of strangers to get them to the next stop. It is almost guaranteed that you will find either your new favourite band or the next big thing on these tours.
Even though doors aren’t until 11am on most dates, the warped tour experience will start much much earlier. Whether watching bands load their gear in from your spot in line or listening to whatever band has set up to win you over in the parking lot or whatever local band has gone up and down and up and down the line trying to get anyone to listen to their cd, the hours leading up to doors are a spectacle in and of themselves. This particular day happened to start at 9am when we arrived at Riverbend. The place was already a buzz of activity. Vans were arriving. The production crew was putting the finishing touches on the stages and wiring up the lights. Mike and Chachi from The Akas were carrying guitars in. Four Year Strong were pushing road cases through the front gate. Jeremy from The Devil Wears Prada was walking around trying to find his parents, only to be stopped to take pictures with his fans, sign a few autographs, and give a few hugs.
For me, Warped started when I arrived to pick up my passes. Upon arrival of the check in tent, Biggie, tour manager for Every Time I Die was riding around on his bike with a sandwich board reading “EVERYTIME I DIE ARE PLAYING AT NOON. ON THE HURLEY STAGE. THAT MEANS WE’RE PLAYING EARLY.” Self promotion, even for the more established acts is of the utmost importance. With passes in hand, I made my way back to the press tent to sort out my schedule. Part of the day would be spent hanging out with old friends and the rest of the day would be spent working, and working hard as there were bands going every twenty minutes.
Whether you see one band or thirty bands, you will always leave happy. In most people’s cases, tired, sweaty, sunburnt, and covered in dirt but happy. It’s necessary to look past the corporate logo fest that warped tour has become to see the real goal of the festival. That goal is to introduce new music to the masses. Lyman has managed to do just that. He has managed to bridge the gap between rockstar and fan with relative ease by arranging signings and meet and greets. he has brought bands to the states that wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to make it over here (The Beat Union and Bring Me the Horizon, for example). He has turned hometown heroes into superstars, if only for a day. More importantly, he has introduced the next generation of record buyers to the band that will change their lives. Perhaps the kids who go to warped tour this year will be inspired to go home and start a band. Who knows. Maybe the bands started this year will be playing the Hurley Stage in 2012. Hey… It could happen.
Every Time I Die
All That Remains
Bring Me The Horizon
The Street Dogs
Gym Class Heroes
Set Your Goals
It is necessary to mention the following people: Gabe Saporta, Marc deJesus, Biggie, the Devil Wears Prada, Phil Labonte, and Bouncing Souls Greg who, along with his lovely wife Shanti, turned in one of my favourite performances of the day.