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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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3 Things I’ll Miss Most About Warped Tour
Thursday, August 09, 2018

It’s official, Warped Tour has completed its final run.

For the kids who grew up at Warped Tour, the countless bands whose careers were launched by Kevin Lyman’s annual cross-country punk rock festival, and the many journalists who covered it all since the tour’s inception in 1993, we shed a tear.

Warped Tour’s ‘90s glory is so legendary books have been written about it, so rather than rehash the complete history of the tour, I’d like to focus on some of the most beautiful aspects of it, aspects I feel will resonate with anyone who attended even just one Warped Tour date.

With that in mind, here are the three things I’ll miss most about Warped Tour.

1. The artist discovery



One of my favorite aspects of Warped Tour was that half the bands were relative unknowns who were getting a shot to be on the same stages – or stages adjacent to – the headliners. This was why Kevin Lyman never revealed the set times of the 60+ bands performing each day until the gates opened.

When I spoke with Lyman in 2011 he fully explained his stance on this, saying, “I still think it’s important for kids to come and learn, so we always have to manage it so that kids come early and wander around and run into a band they might like. We want to try to keep some sense of adventure to shows.”

Lyman added, “Back when Blink 182 was a little band, if I had just written a schedule ahead of time, people would have shown up later, and the band would have maybe not gotten seen by five, six thousand kids every day. It’s exciting to open doors at Warped Tour at 11 o’clock and you have 80% of the crowd in line. It kind of kicks the energy up a little bit.”

Personally, I was always there when the gates opened, hoping to catch as many acts as possible. Because of this …

* I remember seeing a very young, barely tattooed, Lights back in 2009, strapped with a keytar and a smile, playing songs off her debut EP.

* In 2012 I found myself enamored with Tonight Alive, who hooked me early with an acoustic set that was so good I skipped seeing New Found Glory and Memphis May Fire just to see Tonight Alive’s fully plugged in set, which rocked hard.

* In 2013 Echosmith and Gin Wigmore were put on my radar as welcome discoveries.

* I remember PVRIS being bumped up the main stage by the end of their run on the tour in 2015.

All of these artists, and countless others became personal favorites, and since I first saw them on those Warped Tour stages I’ve interviewed them numerous times (except for PVRIS. Still working on that one).

2. Watching artists grow



Since I first saw them …

* Lights has seen her star rise with each new release, and was recently a prominent figure at Comic-Con in San Diego, as her most recent album, Skin & Earth, had an accompanying series of comics which will soon be turned into an animated series.

* Tonight Alive has gone from having maybe a hundred kids in the crowd in 2013 to having thousands in the crowd each day during this year’s tour.

I was thrilled to be able to have a quick conversation with Tonight Alive frontwoman Jenna McDougall this year to let her know when the band performed at Webster Hall in NYC a handful of years ago (coincidentally, with Echosmith opening) it was one of my favorite shows of all-time.

* Echosmith has gone from being a side-stage band to being Top 40 radio darlings, and are showing no signs of slowing down (boy am I glad I interviewed them back in 2013!).

The list goes on and on!

3. Seeing the tour cross generations



A more recent phenomenon, due in part to the tour lasting nearly 25 years, was parents attending with their kids, and not just in a “I have to chaperone this” way, but in a “there are bands I want to see, too, and I want to share this with my kids” way.

A buddy of mine went with his teenage daughter this year. They weren’t together the entire time, but they teamed up to check out the artists they mutually enjoyed.

I also saw a father in line with a very young son who looked to be around kindergarten age. The dad was clearly taking the tike to his first major concert festival, knowing that starting ‘em young is the best way to go.

Yes, there were still plenty of parents in the “Parent Day Care” area, looking at their phones while their kids were having a great time, but over the past few years I saw less parents in that area, and more in the crowd. Heck, in 2016 I saw one grey haired dad crowdsurfing to New Found Glory!


These are just three of the many reasons I will miss Warped Tour, but with the final stage having been taken down, the final merch tent having been rolled up, and the final tour bus having been put into drive to make its way home, Warped Tour has given us nearly a quarter century of memories, and will always serve as a reminder that when it comes to concert festivals – it should always be about the music.

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