23 years and thousands of stops later, Warped Tour is putting its brake on its punk rock traveling music festival. While I only caught onto punk rock music culture in the latter part of the tour’s run, Warped Tour signified everything I embraced as a moody teenager: being yourself, raging against the machine and creative expression. Each of these traits have stuck with me beyond my days of wearing skin-tight band tee shirts. The festival changed my life. Despite the fact that my taste in music has changed since high school, here’s why I’m paying homage to the Tour in its final year.
The pinnacle of the punk culture, Warped Tour was a constant in myself and my friends’ lives. Most of these friends were friends I met through Twitter. We all shared a mutual love of bands like All Time Low, Cobra Starship, blink-182, The Maine and countless others. We bonded through music, but became close by tweeting about the minor annoyances of teenage life. Some of the people I met became my closest friends, and I remain as close as ever to these amazing people.
Staying True To Yourself
One of the greatest things about the Warped Tour community was the amount of acceptance. I always met the kindest people who embraced who they were and liked me for who I was. The artists themselves always promoted self-love and expression through their music, interviews and social media. Don’t believe me? Here’s a video of Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat of All Time Low saying it themselves.
Looking back at middle school photos might induce some discomfort, but the fashion will bring back all of the nostalgia. Tight band tees, flannels, skinny jeans, thick rubber band bracelets and black Vans (or Converse) was everybody’s uniform. My sense of fashion has changed drastically since, but hey, it was nice not having to overthink my outfits.
Meeting The Bands
It was already unreal watching my favorite bands play my favorite songs live — but meeting them took the experience to an entirely new level. Many bands were generous enough to meet fans after shows for free, and meet-and-greets were never too expensive. One of the neatest things about Warped Tour alone was the ability to meet multiple bands I loved in a single day. Sweaty hugs never felt so good.
The Free Stuff
Posters, stickers, CDs and … condoms? All of these items are distributed for free at a Warped Tour date nearest you. If I got lucky, I’d catch a guitar pick or drumstick during a band’s set. Did I really need any of these things? Absolutely not. But these items served as trinkets from the amazing time spent at every date.
Some of my fondest teenage memories involved looking forward to Warped Tour every single summer. Seeing my favorite bands and discovering new artists in 90 degree weather every summer is an experience I’ll never be able to replicate. Here’s to you, Warped Tour. Thanks for the memories (no pun intended), and most importantly, thank you for making me who I am.
Click here for a list of all the stops on the Tour’s last run.