The final Vans Warped Tour has come and passed for the West Coast. The audience and artists were collectively sad but hopeful that another Warped Tour will happen again (even as soon as next year), but that has yet to be confirmed.
The beginning and ending of the Vans Warped Tour day one was semi-chaotic in terms of the organization by Live Nation. Live Nation who was responsible for handling safety & security of concert-goers had weak communication and enforcement for pedestrians crossing the street in the morning and then once more in the evening when the crowded venue let out. Multiple fans were trying to reach their Lyft/Uber but were met with drivers being forced to U-turn due to the street being half-closed which led to a bumper to bumper line of cars and fans being forced to coordinate with their drivers. As a suggestion to those who attend large festivals (such as Warped Tour) and use Uber/Lyft to get to and from the venue your best bet is to walk away from the venue to a nearby cross street where it is less crowded so that your driver may pick you up effortlessly and you can avoid large wait times.
Warped Tour attendees who sought out the best standing spots possible were lined up before even I arrived (nearly 8:45 am) despite doors not opening until around 11 am. The attendees that lined the sidewalks and soon the entire amphitheater ranged in age but mostly young teens/adults (40 and under) attended a final sold-out Warped Tour. Concert goers with donations were allowed in first (roughly an hour early) each day with general admission ticket holders following closely behind. Artists began their performances around 12 noon and the headlining acts wrapped up their sets late into the night. Each band went on stage and finished sets rather timely thanks to the experienced Warped Tour stage managers.
There was a variety of food trucks and venue buildings to buy soda, alcohol, and food throughout the amphitheater from including the famous Trejos Tacos. Food pricing was as low as $8 for small items (ice cream, fries, & hotdogs) meanwhile more deluxe meals were $15-$20. The weather on day one was blistering hot; however, the weather on day two was much cooler and windy. Restrooms and hydration station lines were minimal throughout the weekend (assumingly due to the weather & water fountains around the venue). Interestingly there weren’t as many people needing medic attention or fights occurring as I witnessed in previous years. The audience stayed pretty mellow except for a few people who were drunk and disorderly (they were promptly removed by Live Nation).
Not only was live music offered by Vans Warped Tour there were a few other experiences for their sold-out audience to check out as well. First was a tall half pipe that was occupied by world-class skaters and bikers (Rick Thorne, Dennis McCoy, Coco Zurita, Bucky Lasek, Josh Borden, Omar Hassan, Christian Hosoi, and Kevin Staab) during mid-day music performances. Secondly, they had a foam pit where you could get your picture taken jumping in. Both the half-pipe and the foam pit combined drew in a wide audience that was cheering, oohing and aahing for the athletes meanwhile, the other side of the line had fans clapping for their friends jumping in the foam pit. In addition to the multiple meet and greets that took place throughout the day by artists Kevin Lyman had one of his own that began at 2 pm which attracted many fans who wanted to share a sincere “thank you” with the creator who has kept Warped Tour on its feet for the last 25 years. Another popular attraction last weekend was Fujifilm that brought their Instax mobile tour to Warped Tour. Instax offered two murals where you could have your picture taken in front of and receive your photo on the spot.
The first act I reviewed was Doll Skin. With just a couple strokes of Alex Snowden’s guitar, Doll Skin was knee-deep into their first track titled Daughter. Snowden had the audience cheering for her solo shortly before a sea of hands came together to clap for the chorus. After they finished their first song lead singer, Sydney Dolezal, threw her guitar halfway across the stage (to whom I assume was the guitar tech) which ended up being dropped and tied to one big “ooh!” from the crowd and a badum tss from drummer Meghan Herring. Dolezal mentioned “disclaimer: we’ve only been doing that for about a week and that’s the first time it’s been dropped and the last time it’s been dropped on Warped Tour. Anyway, Warped Tour how ya feelin’? I’m going to spend the next 30 minutes trying not to cry. We’re gonna play you some new music if that’s okay. This one is called Empty House.” During Empty House Dolezal climbed on top of a couple of speakers and sang “I learned to love myself” which had the crowd impressed and cheering for the longevity of the note. When the song ended Dolezal addressed the crowd: “Thank you. Our new album Love Is Dead and We Killed Her just came out a couple of weeks ago and if you haven’t picked it up yet it is available. We have about 60 left at the merch table and vinyl. This song is called Love Is Dead and We Killed Her.”
Doll Skins final Warped Tour appearance as an event and as a band is definitely one of their best to date. The last time I caught up with Doll Skin they were touring in support of Manic Pixie Dream Girl (a year or so ago) and have since stepped up their stage performance and musical ability to an all-time high. There is no roof you can put over these ladies heads because they will raise it until they meet God himself.
Since 2010 Travie McCoy has been working on carving and creating a solo career post Gym Class Heroes. McCoy’s debut album, Lazarus, hit number 25 on the Billboard 200 chart and has since gone on to do other popular collabs. As we fast forward nine years to the 25th anniversary of Warped Tour we find McCoy’s band rocking the main stage of Warped Tour.
McCoy’s band made their entrance to A Tribe Called Quest’s song We The People. After the first verse ended McCoy came out to the stage rocking a green skeleton jacket/sweat pants combo and began playing Cupids Chokehold (by Gym Class Heroes ft Patrick Stump). In between lyrics McCoy hyped up the crowd by saying “You better scream louder now than you ever have in your entire fucking life” which had the entire audience popping. After the first song finished McCoy addressed the crowd: “Good afternoon my name is Travie McCoy from Gym Class Heroes. Are you guys ready to have some fun today or what?” Then he said “all my cookie monsters put your hands in the air like this (made hand gesture)” as he led into Cookie Jar.
After the lid was put on the Cookie Jar McCoy told the audience: “It’s been an honor and a pleasure to be a part of Warped Tour for as long as I – This is the 25th anniversary and I know I’m showing my age and shit since I just turned 18. I’ve been coming to Warped tour for as long as I can remember and I spent most of my teenage years playing this shit so to see all you mothafuckas out here celebrating 25 years of awesome fucking summers at the fucking Warped Tour so lets put a finger up for Kevin Lyman man who put this shit together and holding it down for 25 fucking years and that does not go without keeping your fingers up for all the production, all the mothafuckas who put these stages together, everybody that makes us sound as good as we do right now. But I will say this I know a lot of you guys out there have been asking for some new music and I’m gonna give you your fix right now. Mountain View are you ready for some new shit? This song is called Love Me Back To Life. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for Never Slept Better coming soon, I swear to god.”
Travie McCoy’s set was a major hit with the Mountain View crowd. Although there was plenty of nostalgic throwbacks to go around the new song Love Me Back to Life was fun, groovy, and gave me some Mac Miller vibes in terms of the bass and beat. I was also impressed by the quality of angelic vocals by McCoys guitarist/singer who sang alongside McCoy.
Love one another. Respect one another. Warped Tour lets go the fuck off and have a good fucking time, alright? Screamed Chris Barker who plays bass for Anti Flag. Then Barker yelled out “You’re gonna die, gonna die, gonna die for your government” and the band was off and the pit was opened to the song Die For Your Government off their 2002 album Mobilize. “Alright ya pukes” yelled Barker before lead guitarist and singer Justin Sane took over on vocals. Barker yelled out to the crowd before the chorus chimed in a final time “My brothers and sisters of Warped Tour how the fuck are you doing? Front to back side to side hands in the fucking sky right now” and had the entire audience clapping their hands to the beat. In typical Anti-Flag fashion, Barker reminded the crowd “if someone falls down we pick them up. This entire dance floor is a god damn circle pit” before leading into Broken Bones. “For present, past, and future, for every motherfucker that continues to put profit before people. Fists in the air like so. Turncoat, Killer, Liar, Thief” said Barker after Broken Bones. “I hope everyone’s having a really nice time,” Barker told the crowd as Anti-Flag led into Cities Burn. The remainder of their set came from the Anti-Flag albums For Blood and Empire, American Fall, and American Spring.
With nearly two decades of experience, Anti-Flag has had time to figure out how to keep their audience entertained and engaged album by album and set by set. The crowd seemed pleased with the Anti-Flag setlist. I felt that Anti-Flag kept their set true to punk and rock which kept the Warped Tour audience upbeat throughout their performance in addition to their onstage presence already being energetic by jumping and swinging around their guitars.
After leaving the Set Your Goals performance a few minutes late I realized that I missed Goldfinger play their first song Get Up which I was pretty bummed about, but I got there in time to see their second song Put The Knife Away which sounded great live. Afterward, John Feldman said: “Hello Warped Tour after Warped Tour has been done. Hello to the last and final Warped Tour ever! Warped Tour is the best fucking tour of all time! So is this your first Warped Tour, anybody? My first Warped Tour was 1995. It was fucking Sublime, NOFX, Bad Religion, and No Doubt. It was fucking the greatest. I brought my demo cassette I had a cassette for all you youngsters it’s a piece of plastic that plays music when you hit it and I gave it to fuckin’ Fat Mike and he didn’t sign my band! But here we are in 2019 anyway. How many people is this their first time seeing Goldfinger? This song was written in 1985 by a band called The Cure. They’re the fucking best.” Goldfinger played an upbeat version of Just Like Heaven before they went on to play nine more tracks most of which were covers; however, they also threw some originals in there like Here In Your Bedroom, Open Your Eyes, Tijuana Sunrise, and Superman.
Goldfinger had always been a myth to me until last weekend. I’ve spent the last few years around ska bands so the name has been tossed out here and there and I’ve seen John Feldman due to news articles/associations with certain bands, but I never took the time to sit down and listen to their music thus making Warped Tour the first time that I saw and heard them live. I was pretty blown away by how tight this group was from start to finish. Vocally and instrumentally Goldfinger proved themselves to not only be one of the best artists but also to be able to hang with the best of the Warped Tour line up.
“Are you guys ready to party? Put those hands up and sing along” said Pierre Bouvier of Simple Plan as he addressed the Mountain View crowd during their intro song Say Anything. Bouvier changed the lyrics to “I’d do anything for California” during the song which I could only think “be careful what you ask for these days” as a response. The crowd responded back with a thunderous “I’d do anything” which had the band pumped. Soon after Simple Plan breezed through I’d Do Anything Bouvier said: “We are Simple Plan. And after Less Than Jake we are the band that has played on the most Warped Tours. I don’t know how the fuck that happened, but I’m very proud of it. You guys happy to be here? Are you ready to party with Simple Plan tonight? Listen up, apparently, this might be the final Vans Warped Tour – our last time to do this. And this next song is called Jump so what the fuck are we gonna do? Everybody jump with me. Don’t fuck with me are you ready? Here we go!” And with that, the entire main stage audience was off their feet jumping with Simple Plan.
Before leading into their next song Bouvier said “you may know this next song because we said “dick” on the radio” which received another loud pop from the audience because they knew Addicted was coming up quick and once the initial guitar strings were in play the audience let out another scream and sung at the top of their lungs every word to the track. Simple Plan split their set between their albums No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls and Still Not Getting Any… with the addition of one song from Taking One for the Team, it was a nostalgic day at Warped Tour, to say the least. As mentioned before Simple Plan has played the most Warped Tours (13 total) after Less Than Jake which goes to show how they can pull in an audience like no one else can.
One of the multiple reasons why I love and will miss the Vans Warped Tour is because they brought multiple bands together of different genres that you may or may not have heard of before or could introduce your friends and fellow concert-goers to. Well, Warped Tour did it again for me on Saturday when I photographed Fishbone. Despite being around since 1979 I was completely unaware of who Fishbone was; however, I left their set feeling like I discovered the fountain of youth. Their music was a mixture of ska, funk, reggae, and soul and I was having a great time jamming out to it with the audience. From the keys to the saxophone to the drums to the rhythmic guitars it just felt like the gates of heaven was opened. The stage was covered in well-dressed men and the sounds were well fused. The one song I was able to find online and recognize was Cholly but the rest will have to be uncovered over time as I listen through their albums.
Lets cut to the chase on this next act. Bad Religion are legends. There’s no ifs ands or buts about it. Bad Religion showed up on Saturday evening and slaughtered a 20 song setlist easily. To start the show off the group came out to If the Kids are United by Sham 69 and slowly led into their first track (one of my high school favorites) Fuck Armageddon…This Is Hell followed by Them and Us. “Thank you very much it’s good to see everybody here. You didn’t get an introduction so those of you who aren’t sure we’re Bad Religion nice to see ya. It’s great to be out here a couple of weeks ago we did this on the East Coast but it feels a lot more homey here. The Bay Area, of course, was the second place Bad Religion ever played a concert. And here we are with a new album talking about the end of history” said lead vocalist Greg Graffin. This inevitably led to the song End of History from their May release Age of Unreason. Bad Religions setlist covered 12 out of 17 albums so needless to say fans got a little bit of everything on Saturday night.
I walked into Silverstein a song late missing Retrograde, but just in time for one of my favorite songs, Whiplash. Shane Told asked the crowd “Warped Tour how ya feelin’? It’s been a long day. Are you guys holding up okay? Thank you for sticking around we’re Silverstein from Canada. We put out a record called Redux which has our best hits and we would like to play a song off of that from our first record called Smashed Into Pieces” which had the crowd yelling out in excitement. Once they demolished their classic hit Told asked the crowd “Warped Tour you have some energy left?” Before playing Vices. Silverstein’s set came primarily from Dead Reflection but also drew from Discovering the Waterfront, A Shipwreck in the Sand, and This Is How The Wind Shifts.
No matter how much time has passed Silverstein have found themselves as entertaining as ever and as strong contenders for legendary status. From multiple hits in right under 10 years to becoming a household name for young teens everywhere, there is no denying the lengths and extremes Silverstein will go to ensure they stay at the top of their game.
A band that I was semi-familiar with but haven’t witnessed their antics live was The Aquabats. I never understood the attraction to these guys in blue. I always assumed they were not my personal cup of tea; however, I found myself with a small time frame to spare in between bands and decided to grab myself a seat and witness the shenanigans The Aquabats had to pull. When I came walking down the amphitheater steps I saw multiple blow-up sharks in the audience which could only mean that they were playing their opening song The Shark Fighter. The Aqua Bats followed up their fighting skills with Cat with 2 Heads, The Legend is True, and Pizza Day.
What would a song about Pizza Day be without inflatable pizzas? Don’t ask The Aquabats because they wouldn’t know. Not only did The Aquabats float inflatable pizzas throughout the audience but they sent two young brave kids crowd surfing on those pizzas a short time later. The pizzas made it to the back of the venue and back around to the stage. Unfortunately for one of the little crowd surfers, she fell off but the audience was quick to make sure she made it back on her pizza portal and was sent on her way. The Aquabats had a few more songs left in their inventory, but I had to move on to photograph the next live act across the way.
It took a couple of songs and seeing an audience pull together to float a couple of kids on inflatable pizzas across half an amphitheater to convince me that the legend is indeed true…The Aquabats are that damn good and they do it well. They were engaging, funny, and amusing.
As the sound of guitars and trumpets filled a dark stage the audience behind me began to get restless as they awaited their Saturday night headliners. But quickly enough the beat of the drums began to play to Americana and the lights shot on the stage. One by one members of The Offspring came out dancing and began to take their places on the main stage joining in on the track. Lead vocalist Dexter Holland was the last member to come out waving to the packed audience and jumping up and down before lending his vocals to Americana. The lights went out immediately after the song ended leaving the stage dark, but the lights quickly came back on to Holland screaming “yah, yah, yah!” as The Offspring led into All I Want. The lights again went dark after All I Want but lit the stage up once more as soon as the words “you gotta keep em separated” came out. The crowd gave a quick pop and then quickly lent their voices to The Offspring For Come Out and Play. This was the first time we saw Holland pick up a guitar Saturday night as well which was rad to see him cruising through the notes alongside his bandmates Noodles (on guitar), Greg K. (on bass), and Pete Parada (on drums).
There were no shortage of hits for The Offspring as they played Staring at the Sun, Gone Away, Why Don’t You Get A Job?, Pretty Fly (For A White Guy), The Kids Aren’t Alright, You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid, and Self Esteem which were also among the most popular. The audience stayed and participated for most of the set but began to fade out slowly towards the end to catch their rides without excess traffic. The Offspring never hit the brakes as they kept the show moving at full speed which helped keep the audience engaged despite the hours spent in the sun.
Day 1 of The Vans Warped Tour was a complete success from every angle. Artist pulled together to give the Vans Warped Tour the best send-off possible meanwhile giving fans an experience they will never, ever forget. From the throwback setlists to the meet and greets to the pits and the crowd surfing fans were involved in every way and shape possible trying to make their final memories at Warped Tour. Out of all my years attending the Warped Tour, this year will definitely be one of my favorites due to the line-up and memories I was able to make with fans and bands throughout the day. Thank you, Kevin Lyman. Thank you Warped Tour.