June 22, 2014 still remains a clear memory in the back of my head.
It was my first time ever going to Vans Warped Tour, and for being a middle schooler obsessed with Mayday Parade and All Time Low, it was a dream come true for my emo self.
Something about Warped Tour is just more magical than anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’ve been to too many concerts to count on my fingers and toes, but which concert is one of my favorites? Definitely Warped Tour.
Warped Tour was beautiful in every sense of the word. So many different people were there. Girls with colorful neon hair, and boys with stretched ears and tattoos over their arms and backs. There were little kids on their parents shoulders, screaming the lyrics to every heavy metal song that played. Worries never existed at Warped Tour. Everyone was happy, and that happiness was contagious.
The crowds were huge and endless. Everyone constantly pushed to the front, crowd surfers were above my head every few minutes, and band members were jumping into the crowds encouraging everyone to let loose. There were no rules at Warped Tour. Everyone was accepted there, and it was accepted for everyone to go crazy.
The cross-country music festival has been going on for over twenty years. Bands like My Chemical Romance, All Time Low, Fall Out Boy, and so many more started there before they were even famous. It hasn’t just been a place that has made my dreams come true, but it has jump-started the careers of so many bands that I love more than anything in my life.
When I first went to Warped Tour in 2014, I remember waiting in line to go in, and I ended up seeing the drummer of one of my favorite bands walking through the lines selling cds. When I walked inside, I ran straight to the main stage when I heard “Check Yes, Juliet” playing by We The Kings. Shortly after, I found the singer of We The Kings signing autographs and giving hugs to people for free. I saw over ten bands that day, including Linkin Park, a band who just decided to show up for that day and perform a set. They only performed one Warped Tour show ever in the history of the tour, and I was there to experience it.
Then I went to Warped Tour again in 2015 with my best friend. It was over 100 degrees that day, and I almost passed out in a mosh pit from dehydration. I stumbled out of an Attila crowd covered in dirt head to toe, and I went through three water bottles before I regained enough energy to jump straight into another crowd for another band.
No matter the location, Warped Tour was where anything could happen. I was in the crowd for Black Veil Brides when I got a text from my friend telling me she met four different band members just walking around. That only happens at Warped Tour, because the bands who go there have such a strong connection with their fans that they just walk around the festival they’re performing at. There’s no overwhelming paparazzi, or security guards following the members around, and there’s no one making the band members uncomfortable.
That’s what made the music festival so special for me. There was a connection between everyone there. There was a connection between the bands and the fans, and connections between strangers. Even if you didn’t know the person, if you sang with them at one set, the connection was there. In 2014, I left my sister to head into the crowd for Falling In Reverse. There I met a guy who I rapped along with to “Bad Girls Club” and “I’m Not A Vampire,” and I knew every word to those songs too, and I still do. But we were there, complete strangers horribly belting out the lyrics to two amazing songs, and I still smile at the memory years later. The connection was the music all these strangers had gone there to see.
Warped Tour has always been a second home for me, and I always hoped that I’d still be attending the festival when I was forty, or that I’d be going to the festival with my college friends. Sadly, 2018 is the last full cross-country run of Warped Tour ever.
When I found that out I was heartbroken. I had only gone to the festival twice, but they were some of the best experiences of my life, and I regret missing the last two years. After this year, there’ll be no more Warped Tour. No more memories to create, but the ones I made I could never forget.
However, I’m going to go to all the Southern California dates. I will run as fast as I can in the circle pits, I will hug all the band members I can, and I will sing my heart out while the sun sets over the horizon behind the stages. I will crowd surf to the front, and I will probably fall several times attempting it, but it’ll be worth it one last time.
Summer can’t come soon enough, but once it does, and once I step into the fairgrounds where Warped Tour is, I’ll never want to leave. I’ll never want it to end.