It’s the end of an era — in November, Vans Warped Tour announced that the summer of 2018 would be the last cross country run. It was 1995 when the first tour took place, and ever since, it has been a staple in the alternative music scene. What’s special about Warped Tour, in my opinion, is that it spans every genre while still remaining as an umbrella that brings a specific group together. Being at Warped almost gives me the same sense of being at the church I grew up in, where I can talk to anyone as if we’re old pals, and sing without judgment. And no matter what band is there, there is still the same feel of a home.
On the topic of spanning genres, let’s talk about who I was most excited to see — Colorado pop/rap duo 3OH!3. I’ve been a proud fan of the group since I was WAY too young to be a proud fan. They opened up the show and absolutely packed the arena. I don’t know if it was just because they were up first so nobody was tired yet, but it was the most energetic set I attended by FAR. Even the casual fans who were only there for hits like My First Kiss and DONTTRUSTME were dancing to every track.
An added bonus, I was super excited to find out Jess Bowen is drumming for them on tour. She has been an idol of mine since her days in The Summer Set, and now Nekokat. Truly the Renaissance Woman of pop-punk percussion.
I met the boys shortly after their set, and they were sweet as can be for having such vulgar lyrics. 10/10 would meet again. Thanks for signing my camera bag and being nice to me even though I was awkward!
While in line to meet my Colorado favorites, I caught Simple Plans set. If you read my review of They Might Be Giants, I mentioned learning about them from a Target Girl Power CD I got as a kid. This was also my introduction to Just A Kid by Simple Plan, the sadness anthem that made me way too emo as a small child. Their set was awesome, complete with Pierre jumping into the crowd.
Any beef I have with Warped Tour was strictly a venue issue. Our humble riverfront stadium was not built for a large-scale rock festival. The entrances were unclear and the bottleneck between Red Dawn and Journeys Right Foot nearly made me miss my problematic favorites, Falling In Reverse. No worries, I made it just in time.
Falling In Reverse was our surprise guest band, much to my delight. Ronnie Radke’s powerhouse vocals were the soundtrack to my youth, with Dying Is Your Latest Fashion being one of my favorite albums of all time. The Drug In Me Is You also holds a special place in my heart, as I saw this album performed during Warped Tour 2012.
While Falling In Reverse has changed their sound, and Radke has become more controversial than ever (how is that even possible,) I was captivated by the performance. Old favorites from TDIMIY were mixed between the newer pop songs, and the band sounded great on both.
Like the old lady I am, I spent the rest of the day seated at Journeys Left Foot, which was set up in the existing pavilion. The advantage of my lame seating choice was that I had a birds-eye view of the crowd — and boy, did Bowling For Soup PACK the house. I was trapped in my seat because of the sea of people lining the stairs and aisleways.
After High School Never Ends, Reddick announced that Warped never changes, and it’s still a bunch of “40-year-olds singing about high school.” Then, for the culture, we were treated to the Phineas And Ferb Theme Song — a highlight of the day if you ask me.
It stayed packed for Mayday Parade, who did a short but wonderful cover of The Rock Show, as well as Reel Big Fish. In the best way possible, Reel Big Fish looks like you pressed random on a bunch of sims then told them they were in a band. The mish-mash of personalities on stage melted together into a memorable performance — SKA isn’t dead, people!
I closed out my time at Warped Tour with an old favorite, We The Kings. Travis Clark was the first artist I ever interviewed way back in my middle school days. I’ve followed them ever since, and it’s a treat to be part of the journey — I was moved by the group singing a song for Clarks daughter, and even making it part of their upcoming music video.
What is important to keep in mind as the summer of Warped Tour ends is that this is the final CROSS COUNTRY run, not the final show. This paradise of alternative music will still exist, you just might have to travel.
And if anything, the threat of never being to another Warped Tour reminded the scene of just how important it is. If that truly was the last time I step into Riverbend Music Center for the ultimate emo festival, I am content knowing just how important that music is to me and everyone around me.
Farewell Warped Tour, you will be missed dearly. Thank you for being a home.
Hannah is an accidental internet meme, drummer, loud talker, and proud owner of a purse that functions as a working analog clock. She got the media writer gene from her dad, PF Wilson, another writer for Pop Culture Beast. Her favorite bands come and go on a seasonal rotation, but Marina & The Diamonds and Say Anything are here to say. She’s probably watching The Grand Budapest Hotel right now, but if she isn’t, she’s out photographing rock concerts.