The Vans Warped began 23 years ago in 1995 by a man who became a legend known as Kevin Lyman. Lyman began running the tour from June-August in outdoor venues around the states. Shortly after beginning the tour in ’95 Vans became an official sponsor in ’96 (when they gave Lyman 300k for the tour and 100k to buy their merch rights back from Sony) and the tour went international in ’98 which was a major step for this tour. From throwing parties in college to raise money for a ski team to graduating with a degree in recreation administration Lyman absorbed a variety of information which led him to Lollapalooza where he was a stage manager, production manager as well as an artist liaison at one point. As he continued to gain knowledge from different sources the gears began turning in his head for how he could make Warped different for not only the fans but the artists as well. A strong example seen on behalf of Lyman was the consistent change of set times daily. By changing the artists set times on a date by date basis fans had a chance to be turned on to different artists whom they may have missed because they would typically be on the opener side of the bill. Lyman has worked year-round to continue fixing and adjusting the tour over the years but has finally decided to call it quits. Citing reasons such as bands participating, and declining ticket sales Lyman has openly admitted he has become tired after working 26 straight summers on the road and now looks forward to teachings as a college professor at USC.
With that being said, thank you, Kevin, and thank you to any and all who helped make Warped Tour possible for not only myself but everyone who has ever walked through a Warped Tour gate. The Warped Tour has truly changed my life in more ways then I can imagine but more than anything Warped Tour has made friends, families, relationships, and long lasting impressions on lives across the country.
Headlining stages Journeys left and right foot stage was stacked with many popular acts as well as some up and comers showing the veterans how we do things in 2018. Some of the veteran artists we captured on the left stage such as Black Veil Brides, Mayday Parade, Reel Big Fish, and The Used got a glimpse of the future of the scene with popular up and comers Issues and State Champs who took on the crowd fearlessly and with an overwhelming amount of passion. Meanwhile, on the right side, we viewed more veterans than we saw up and coming artists as we watched Falling In Reverse make their triumphant return alongside headliners Real Friends, Simple Plan, Tonight Alive, We The Kings, and acoustic duo This Wild Life.
Black Veil came out stronger than ever with their classic hits such as Knives and Pens, Rebel Love Song and newer tracks like Faithless and Wake Up which all received an overwhelming amount of crowd participation during the set that consistently put a smile on lead vocalists Andy Biersacks face. Alongside Biersack were bandmates Jake Pitts, Jinxx, and Ashley Purdy who rocked the crowd while CC hid behind his beautiful custom drumset and laid down the firepower necessary to bring Black Veil to the top of the group’s performance level. Mayday Parade who recently released a strong record titled Sunnyland wasn’t afraid to return to their roots as they played their hits such as Miserable At Best, Jersey, When You See My Friends and of course Jamie All Over (which the fans went particularly wild for the line “drove out to see Las Vegas”). Mayday also shook up their set with a cover of Blink 182’s classic hit The Rock Show which had fans walking by singing along and banging their head.
Reel Big Fish turned up the skanking for the already hot crowd with Everyone Else Is An Asshole, Beer, Sell Out, and did their classic Suburban Rhythm track where they switch up the playing style with different genres for the same track. The Used came out with lead vocalist Bert McCracken swinging around colorful smoke grenades as he led his band into the set. I’ve been lucky enough to catch The Used twice this year and I have to admit they put on a very powerful performance. Every member of the band knows their role on stage and are able to handle the set with ease and professionalism as they burned through old school tracks for their fans in Las Vegas while enjoying each other and the audience throughout the performance. McCracken is also very animated onstage and is not afraid to show his comedic side to the audience as he throws up consistent middle fingers during his set.
Issues and State Champs had no problem carrying the torch as they have had previous experiences with Warped Tour in the past and have progressed their live performance into one of the most captivating and expressive live shows Warped had to offer on this year’s tour. Issues were founded 6 short years ago and despite a variety of lineup changes they’ve overcome every obstacle in their way and have always pushed to write the best music they are capable of. As for Issues overall live performance bassist Skyler Acord has always stood out to me as an onstage performer and artist because of the abundance of curly hair being span around meanwhile his fingers lay down the funky groove and bass lines which makes him a notable act in my book. Drummer Josh Manuel has also been on my radar. Manuel who took over drumming duties in 2013 recently turned 27 and is very vibrant and lively when it comes to his set with Issues. Manuel always has a smile on his face as he continues to grow as an artist over the years and that really impacts the fans to want to follow in his footsteps.
Falling In Reverse are only doing a select run of dates on the Vans Warped Tour but catching their set is always worth it. With a revolving door of artists coming and going through the band Falling In Reverse performed with some popular artists on Friday night including Max Georgiev, Tyler Burgess, Brandon Richter and longtime members Zakk Sandler and Derek Jones. As Kevin Lyman sat side stage for Falling In Reverses performance lead vocalist Ronnie Radke put on the performance of a lifetime as they opened with crowd favorite Just Like You, Fashionably Late, and the unforgettable Fuck You and All Your Friends. I’ve had the great pleasure of seeing FIR a few times over the years and considering most of these members upbringing in the scene I feel that this could be one of strongest (both figuratively and literally) fractions we see out of the music scene for the foreseeable future. Falling In Reverse will be an immovable force for quite some time if we continue to see the same members return. Real Friends are always an emotional favorite to capture live because of lead vocalist’s Dan Lambtons ability to tell a story through song. As Lambton pours his heart out to the audience from the front risers his bandmates stay behind on the stage rocking and vibing with one another. Despite seeing Real Friends once before I didn’t remember them being as friendly and outgoing on stage as they are in person. Guitarists Dave Knox and Eric Haines continually play off each other as they don’t mind getting too close for comfort during the set only to laugh it off alongside bassist Kyle Fassel and drummer Brian Blake.
Simple Plan is the band I grew up listening and crying to while loving every emotional song they targeted at my soul. Simple Plan was also the perfect band that I never got to see and that changed on Friday evening. With I’d Do Anything, Addicted, Welcome To My Life, I’m Just A Kid, and Perfect booming from the speakers straight into the hearts of concert goers it’s impossible to say Simple Plan made a bad setlist for the final year of Warped Tour. Simple Plan took a majority of those songs from their beginner albums but didn’t hesitate to pull Boom! from their 2016 album Taking One for the Team. Judging from the fans reactions every second of the bands live set was worth the unrestrained heat as the audience sung like a church choir to every word that left lead vocalists Pierre Bouvier’s mouth. This Wild Life helped wind down the evening with their acoustic tunes and sounds from their recent album released in June titled Petaluma as well as playing tracks from their other albums Low Tides and Clouded. Although a majority of the crowd merged to other stages or out of the venue at the beginning of the set there was still a well sized audience humming and singing along with Kevin Jordan who plays guitar and sings for This Wild Life. Those who left the set early in the evening missed TWL play a cover of I Will Follow You Into the Dark (originally performed by Death Cab for Cutie) and even more importantly they missed out on the fantastic guitar playing of band mate Anthony Del Grosso who multitasked between guitar and drums as bandmate Alexander Bemis helped on backing vocals and keys. Similar to TWL’s albums their live performance is flawless and continues to impress audiences nationwide.
Tonight Alive shot off like a rocket into their Warped set with The Book of Love from their 2018 album Underworld. Underworld has been very popular among the fans as it displays the most in-depth Tonight Alive lyrics and instrumentals that the fans have been craving since the prior release of Limitless in 2016. For the audience members who caught Tonight Alive’s set for the first time, it seemed to be a thrilling experience as Jenna McDougall who does vocals for Tonight Alive has a very unique style of connecting with the fans by making them feel at home and at peace with whomever they are and wherever they are in life. Sharing the stage with McDougall were bandmates Jake Hardy & Cameron Adler on guitar and the flawless Matt Best on drums. The most memorable part of Tonight Alive shows is hearing the roar from the audience after McDougall explains that “Tonight Alive is a band that stands for embracing the personal power and emotional freedom” because you can really feel the connection between the artist and audience unlike no other. I also enjoy seeing the smile from Adler as he paces the stage during each song while Best flips his drumsticks and holds down the pace of the music. There was a special moment during the set on Friday when McDougall tripped on her mic cord and although most band members would be upset McDougall chose to smile and laugh it off and I believe that’s because that is genuinely who she is (a very easy going and loveable person) and I find that very inspiring.
Taking over the Mutant Red Dawn stage on the intersection of Bridger and 3rd of Downtown Las Vegas were fan favorites The Amity Affliction, Chelsea Grin, Ice Nine Kills, Mychildren Mybride, and chaotic but poetic artist Sharptooth. On the opposing side we saw Crown The Empire, and Motionless In White tear apart the stage from edge to edge. We also took a brief stop by the owly.FM stage to see our friends in Doll Skin hold down the hot weather with their rockin’ tracks and cool vibes before the sun went down on the streets of Las Vegas.
As fun as the idea of summer in Las Vegas sounds the 100-degree weather can really get to the out of towners who are not used to the heat; however, the residents of Las Vegas considered the weather to be a cool breeze compared to what they are used to on the more brutal days. Luckily for the concert goers there was bottled water being sold for $3, sodas available for purchase, the annual Cool Gear hydration station, and plenty of vendor trucks to help quench thirst and ease stomachs as fans waited for their favorite artists to take the stage. We advise anyone going to the remaining Warped dates to please remain hydrated, know where the medic tents are and have a fantastic time!
Looking back on the two dates of Warped Tour I attended this year (San Diego & Las Vegas) and the years prior I have been blessed to be able to cover the event I think it will always be needless to say that this tour, this family, and this event will be sorely missed for generations to come. For teenagers, adults, parents, and bands alike the annual Warped Tour was the Woodstock and The Summer Jam of our generation. This was a tour where you could pay a very cheap price to see some amazing (and not so amazing) artists take the stage and give you their all and when you were done you could visit the countless number of other stages, booths, and vendors to continue the enjoyment. As it comes to an end I will always look back on Warped Tour as a well ran and well planned out tour that gave more to the artists and fans than they could have ever imagined. Many artists such as Katy Perry, Eminem, G-Eazy, and Bebe Rexha have all been able to receive exposure from the tour and in return, fans were introduced to these artists like never before. From consistent strong lineups to spicy food and tastier desserts this was a festival and a summer everyone looked forward to annually. To now say goodbye to a festival that has brought us so much happiness and pleasure will be bittersweet.