When you ask most people about their Warped Tour experience they’ll probably tell you that they’ve been going since they were 13 years old and that they’ve made many memories and friends. But for some of us that’s not the case. Warped Tour is leaving our hometown too soon.
Growing up I had strict parents and was only ever allowed to go to country music concerts. This was a product of having southern parents of course. So my first Warped was summer 2015 when I was 19 and a sophomore in college. It was like discovering a musical Disneyland that everyone else knew about except you. I had heard of the tour years before when I was maybe 14, but that was through the VH1 channel (I think) and to me it was just another Lollapalooza. A music festival somewhere far away from Texas that I couldn’t attend.
After my first summer I was hooked. I decided I was going to go every summer until I was sick of it completely. Fast forward to 2018 and the cancellation announcement. This sucks. Three Warped Tours is not enough. I thought I would eventually secure a summer spot working the whole tour one year when I didn’t have schooling to worry about. Since that wouldn’t be happening I volunteered for a day job for Fearless records at the Houston date.
Let me tell you, working Warped is insanely more fun than just attending as a fan. I got a vendor wristband, so the small perks that came with that made the whole experience much better. Free parking, early entry, and access to the back gate meant a short walk to the parking lot and avoiding lines. There was also a tent I was allowed to be under with chairs, shade, and water. All of the vendors in the neighboring tents were insanely friendly. Free vegan cookies were also a thing at one point. Not something one usually encounters as a Texan.
After it all I left the venue feeling incredible grateful for the awesome day I had just had, and a sadness that there wasn’t a next year to look forward to. I sort of feel cheated out of so many summers I should have had, but I’m glad I got the ones I did. Warped Tour is such an accepting environment to be in. It’s not like some other music festivals I’ve been to where everyone dressed up exactly the same way. You don’t try to fit in, you just show up. Music is the most important thing to me personally, as well as so many others. Then you add the fact that much of the music played at Warped Tour is very emotionally charged, and it’s easy to see how it becomes something that means so much to people.
Rock music is no longer the most popular genre of music as it was in the late 90’s and 2010’s. There’s not another music festival with the non mainstream rock/pop rock paired with the heavy metal artist like Warped. You just don’t get that any more. Especially not one that comes to you. People hop on planes for Coachella and Lollapalooza. Most young people don’t have that ability. Warped will be leaving a huge hole in the world of music festivals, and while I’m curious to see who will fill it, I can’t help but feel sad and (low key) bitter about it all.
So from a newbie with the connection of a longtime vet, so long Warped. You will be severely missed, especially by all of us laypeople who can’t travel to see all our favorite artists in one day.