Earlier this year, I was saddened to find out that this summer would be the last edition of the Vans Warped Tour. If you’re not familiar with it, Warped Tour is a traveling music festival, and with a multitude of stages, 30 minute sets, and an extensive line-up, it offers kids all around the country a rare opportunity to see a bunch of their favorite bands in one day for the price of just one ticket.
Throughout the years, I have been fortunate to attend as a fan, meet my idols there, and even play the festival. Warped Tour became a summer tradition—a weird summer camp where the punk and emo kids who were tethered to their iPods at actual summer camp could really thrive. It’s where I learned mosh pit etiquette, recognized the performance subtleties that made my favorite artist my favorite, and discovered that it’s never too hot to wear black skinny jeans.
I knew it would be important for me to attend the final year of Warped Tour, especially with the grand-finale/reunion-show line-up Kevin Lyman had arranged, but unfortunately a family commitment meant that I was going to miss the Denver date. I compared my work schedule side by side with the tour dates and figured out I could make it to another date—Noblesville, Indiana. My roommate from college lives in Indianapolis, so I called him up. “Hey Pavelko, you wanna go to Warped Tour?” And sure enough, he said yes.
I ended up taking a redeye flight into Indiana to arrive the morning of Warped Tour. Pavelko picked me up at the airport, we changed into our alternative attire, and then we grabbed breakfast at this cool diner called Yolk.
When we arrived at the festival, I was immediately transported to my youth. It all felt so familiar—the energy, the cacophony of different bands playing in the distance, and the wide variety of music enthusiasts—emo kids, metal heads, punks, their grown up versions, and everyone in between.
In about 9 hours, we saw 15 bands, ranging from pop punk to ska to death metal. I sang along at the top of my lungs to the songs of my college years by Mayday Parade. I freaked out when Reel Big Fish covered ‘Dance the Night Away’ by Van Halen. And I moshed to Simple Plan with strangers knowing we shared ‘I’m Just a Kid’ as our 7th grade anthem.
While Pavelko and I were watching a metal set from the back with earplugs and sunglasses donned, a girl came up to us and said, “Sorry to interrupt, but I just wanted to tell you that I’m really excited to see you guys play tonight.” Ha. I guess we looked the part.
So farewell, Warped Tour. Thanks for all of the amazing memories over the years. I’m glad I got to be a part of the grand finale. It sure is fun to be nostalgic every now and then.