The Van’s Warped Tour has turned 15 this year.
How awesome is that?
The longest running festival ever is on it’s 15th run this year and does not seem to be slowing down at all. Punk rock summer camp is still in session for fans of all ages. I know when I go this year I will be laughing at the fact that there will be tons of kids there who were not even born when the Warped Tour first took place.
In other words…I’m getting old.
Recently I read a pretty interesting article in this month AP Magazine. It basically told the tale of the history of the Van’s Warped Tour from the beginning until present day. I suggest you go out and grab a copy of the magazine (who I should add has been around for 24 years!) if you want to know the true history of the Warped Tour and read the wonderful article.
I will tell you one thing…it was almost called the Calvin Klein Warped Tour. (read the article!!!)
Now I don’t remember everything because let’s face it, growing old does a number on you sometimes but I remember enough to talk about it. This was my first Warped Tour festival I had attended and is the one that I will remember for a lifetime. It became the start of a summer ritual my friends and I have been engaging in almost every single summer since.
It all started one day when I read about a punk rock festival that was coming back to town. I missed the first Warped Tour in 1995 for whatever reason and still kick myself for doing so but what happened, happened. Regardless I was excited to see it’s return and this time planned accordingly.
The festival was held at the old Cloverleaf grounds, a one time drive-in turned flea market parking lot, let me rephrase that, a gravel filled parking death lot, located under the I-480 Valley View bridge. Of all the places a festival could have been put at they chose the white stoned parking lot and it was the perfect venue in every way.
Tickets were only $20 for the festival and the parking was free. We arrived before anyone else and parked directly in front of the entrance gate. Too young to buy beers and pre-game we just hung out until the gates were open and the festivities began. Featuring acts such as NOFX, CIV, Pennywise, Unwritten Law, The Dancehall Crashers, Rocket From The Crypt, and others it was to be one of those days that I would never forget. (Speaking of forget, it is possible that Sublime, No Use For A Name, The Deftones, Face To Face, and Fishbone may have played too but I can not recall – anyone else remember?)
Spite the lack of remembering the entire lineup, I have a lot of memories that day that will last for a life time. I don’t even know where to start… I can tell you this though, many of those memories did not even include the bands.
CIV. I miss that band so much. I was a huge CIV fan (still am) and absolutely thrilled to see them take the stage.
I was still new to Unwritten Law having seen them previously opening for Bad Religion so i was excited to see them again live. I was a huge fan of Blue Room and really got into their set. So did some other fans who, apparently, started fist fighting in the middle of the pit. Lead signer Scott Russo and yours truly broke up that fight. I’m more about peace and rock over knocked out teeth.
I should also mention the famous boot prints found on people back’s. I will not confirm if they were from my boots, but my friends did mention that I became very excited about NOFX taking stage and might have run over 4 or 7 kids while charging into the mosh pit.
Speaking of NOFX, one of my friend’s girlfriends at the time somehow got backstage and did not bother to invite any of us. We later in the day discovered she made out with one of the members of NOFX. Awesome. I think at that moment I was double pissed. Once for the blatant cheating and the other for the non-invite back stage.
Right before Pennywise took the stage for the final set of the day the clear skies turned into hell. Huge dark clouds took over the sky and as Pennywise tried to close out the set lightning was striking dangerously close and the rain was pouring causing for their amps to blow out. It was at that time that the two friends that were by me hi tailed it to my car and got the hell out of there. We may have left someone behind.
I was on the nightly news that evening because apparently all of the cussing could be heard echoing in the surrounding cities thanks to the venue being located at the bottom of a valley. I remember I was walking with my pal Jonah and was eating a hamburger. I noticed one of the local news channels filming us so being the goof that I am I proceeded to stop, look at the camera, and stuff the 3/4 worth of hamburger left in my hand into my mouth where I proceeded to eat it.
Mom was so proud that night.
Later one of the newscasters was talking about all of the controlled rowdiness in the grounds and I walked up behind him and threw the devil horns over his head. Everyone surrounding the camera burst out laughing. Even the cameraman was laughing at that newscaster who had no idea what was going on. I am pretty sure that was edited out of the evening news.
Then there was the choke chain I wore around my neck. You see, being punk means wearing dog chains and other miscellaneous metal accessories all over your body. I chose to wear a choke chain around my neck along with other various items including the super long chain connected to my wallet I used to trip over all the time.
For some reason I opted out of using a safety pin or mini pad lock to secure my dog choke chain and chose a chain link connector, something that I was so proud of discovering at a local hardware store earlier that year. Well thanks to the intense heat my neck started to swell and I realized it was time to take off the chain from my neck so I could breath. There was one problem…genus me decided to secure the chain link connector with pliers at home and I could not unscrew the chain link connector for the life of me.
I panicked and tried to do everything I could to get that thing undone from my neck. I ran around like an idiot searching for pliers to get the link unscrewed as I was slowly choking. All of the folk at the band merch booths could not help, the pro-skaters laughed at me, and the security was not any help at all. Finally I found a booth where some folk were making jewelry and luckily borrowed some pliers and took that damn chain off my neck. Who am I kidding, I basically lept over their table and snatched the pliers from one of their working hands in order to save my life.
Luckily there were no news crews around to film me during that episode…although that would have been hilarious.
Let me not forget about the the mosh pit, it was more like a death pit thanks to all the gravel. I do want to note that the pit was very friendly and who ever slipped and fell or was forcefully knocked over was helped up immediately. There was not as much blood as I though might occur but there were plenty of scrapes and bruises.
The drive home too was a memory. Thanks to all the heavy rains my car decided to stall in the middle of Route 43. I literrally beat the crap out of my car when it did not start and am pretty sure scared my friends. To make matters even worse I screamed at my friends to get out of the car and help me push the car into a nearby parking lot. One of them told me “no way, it’s raining”. Thanks Pete.
The Warped Tour then was just in its baby steps when I attended. I think there were three stages, maybe four, on that stony drive-in with just a handful of merch booths. Within the next couple of years the success of the festival provided the means to expand and turn it into a larger festival with more stages and attractions. Moving from place to place it just got bigger and bigger to what it is now.
I have to admit I was getting a little disappointed in the line-ups of recent years primarily because I have no idea who these bands are anymore. I am all for the new generation of music and their fans but it has gotten to the point where I just do not care.
Luckily for me (and others I would assume) Kevin Lyman decided to go back to the Warped Tour roots this year and has asked some of the veteran punk rock bands to once again spend their summer playing on stages to thousands of fans all over the US, Canada, and even a couple of spots overseas.
This time around there will only be one main stage and longer sets. That right there got me excited seeing how I never enjoyed seeing my favorite acts only get 30 minutes to crank out as many songs as they could. I can honestly not wait until next week when the Warped Tour rolls through Cleveland once again.
Featuring bands (aka the bands I want to see most):
Bad Religion, NOFX, Bouncing Souls, Gallows, Flogging Molly, Anti-Flag, Fake Problems, Alexisonfire, 3OH!3, Authority Zero, Fishbone, The Flatliners, P.O.S, The Reverend Paytons Big Damn Band, Westbound Train, and Thrice (just to name a couple)
I will say this though. This is my last year with the Warped Tour and I plan on retiring from the punk rock summer camp once and for all. It was a touch decision but seriously even I am starting to think I am too old for it…
With my luck the 2010 line up with be even better than this years… I’ll just insert foot into mouth now and not tell anyone later if I do return…
Vintage footage of the Warped Tour:
Speaking of memories…I came across this YouTube video of footage from the storm that nearly destroyed the 2007 Warped Tour. I was standing pretty close to the kid who filmed this. That was one hell of a storm…