R.I.P. Warped Tour: The End of an Era

Earlier this month, Kevin Lyman, the founder of the Vans Warped Tour announced that 2018 would be the last full cross-country run of the festival.

Needless to say, a part of the emo, punk lad inside me died. 

“I have been a very lucky person to have traveled across the country and sometimes around the world as one of the founders and producers of the Vans Warped Tour,” Lyman said in a statement. “Today, with many mixed feelings, I am here to announce that next year will be the final, full cross-country run of the Vans Warped Tour. I sit here reflecting on the tour’s incredible history, what the final run means for our community, and look forward to what’s to come as we commemorate the tour’s historic 25th anniversary in 2019.”

Though I lived vicariously through many summers on the Warped Tour through YouTube videos and stories from my older siblings, I’m glad I got to attend the festival when I did in 2011.

While the lineup wasn’t nearly as stacked as it was in 2005 (My Chemical Romance, Thrice, Armor For Sleep, Fall Out Boy, Senses Fail and Tsunami Bomb among others), you can’t fully experience what it’s like to see band after band in the blistering heat unless you go there. 

Mike Terry, whose band The Jukebox Romantics appeared on the tour for runs in 2010 and 2012 said while it’s sad, he understands why it’s ending.

“Festivals like Riot Fest last for just a couple days. Warped Tour is everyday,” Terry said. “Having to secure venues, cities, food and water. There are a lot of logistics that go into it. Kevin Lyman is the Vince McMahon of Warped Tour. From the largest to smallest scale, everything is covered and he’s put his whole life into it.

As someone who has seen the tour from both perspectives, Terry said that a goal of his was to be on Warped as a band because him and all of his friends went as fans growing up.

“It’s super fun, but it’s a lot of traveling,” he said. “You arrive at 7 or 8 a.m. find your stage and then promote all day. There’s an old adage that if you can survive Warped Tour, you can survive any tour. There are a lot of long commutes and no time to sleep in a bed.”

I also caught up with Josh Eppard, drummer of Coheed and Cambria recently and asked what it was like to be on the festival the entire summer and some fond memories he remembers.

“Jesus. I mean, the whole thing,” he said. “It’s an experience unlike any other. For me, that first three weeks in a van on Warped almost killed me. If you asked me this question while I was in the midst of that first run I’d have told you how awful it was, but that’s part of it. The sun burn. The sweat and dirt. The summer camp feel of it all. It was pretty ludicrous.”

Eppard went on to say that while Warped Tour was cliquey, the veteran bands of the tour warmed up to Coheed after Dr. Know from Bad Brains came out and played with them.

All of a sudden with Doc playing with us, a lot of those dudes warmed up to us,” he said. “It was cool. I’m talking Bad Religion, NOFX, Pennywise. All those guys were cool and all but we were outsiders. It was cool to get love from all those legendary punk groups even though we weren’t really a punk band.”

Perhaps my fondest memory from attending the tour was getting to see and meet one of my favorite bands from high school, Less Than Jake. I also got elbowed in the face while moshing to Attack! Attack! But that’s for another day. 

The night ended when Jeremy McKinnon from A Day to Remember walked across the crowd in a giant hamster ball and then the band split the crowd down the middle, creating a wall of death. I was bitter because my friends wouldn’t let me see Relient K instead of A Day to Remember so I boycotted the wall of death. Needless to say, I’m kicking myself now.

Katie Chirichillo attended the tour from 2005-08 talked about a day in the life of what going to the tour was like. 

“At Warped Tour 2006, I was 16, and got kicked in the face during The Early November from a crowd surfer,” she said. “It was the first time that ever happened to me, and 12 years later, I consider that some sort of rite of passage.”

The tour will pass through downstate New York on July 28 at Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre. Make sure you get your final moshing in, because this is it.