Vans Warped Tour, is it still Warped?

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Warped Tour logo from Website

Warped Tour logo from Website

Over 15 years ago Kevin Lyman created Vans Warped Tour for one purpose, and one purpose only, to bring music to people. Envisioning a huge venue that would showcase bands and skateboarding, Kevin Lyman’s dream came to fruition in 1994. Growing from a simple idea of entertainment and music, Warped Tour begun to grow and grow. Now in its fifteenth year, it made one of its final stops in San Diego this weekend at the Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre, and something just wasn’t right in Whoville.

When Warped Tour begun it was inundated with the belief of social change and difference. It embraced music that was against the mainstream; unlike many other large scale events, sponsors and advertisers were not at the forefront. As Warped Tour progressed in time, the idea that was once Warped Tour seemed to have become warped.

Now in its fifteenth year, the event in itself has become something completely different. First off, the traffic to get into the event was horrendous, and parking was out of control. Driving down the two lane road which was jammed packed with cars, one could watch and see the obvious change the venue has undergone in the past years.

What were once Mohawks, torn pants, and anti-establishment shirts, have now become tight black pants, emo hair-dos, and an invasion of MTV wannabee scenesters.

Change is an inescapable truth, but the change needs to be forward-thinking and progressive to match the original ideals that made Warped Tour so great. Warped Tour has gone the complete other direction. Rather than building on its foundation of great unknown music, it has become a popularized version of itself. Bands like NOFX, Pennywise, No Use for a Name, Flogging Molly’s, and many not so mainstream, against the grain bands have been drowned out. Instead of bands that preached the powerful messages of anti-establishment and politics, bands on the new tour have morphed into loud, screaming, trendy, well publicized talents.

What happened to the embrace that was once Warped Tour? The common ground that we all felt as we knew we were enjoying something different, and truly unique.

The foundation of unity and camaraderie at Warped Tour would ultimately lead to what has killed it. Time and time again, Warped Tour was

Provided by 'Hitz-Musik Staff' via Flickr

Provided by 'Hitz-Musik Staff' via Flickr

raved about amongst the unknown; then the unknown became popularized among the masses. Those that grew up going to Warped Tour soon gained the attention of Big Wigs in the music industry. What was once only heard about and shared amongst the few was bombarded by an influx of mainstream attention.

Warped Tour is not to blame for this inevitable trend. Like any venue, it wants to grow; it wants to remain a strong, powerful event that will bring thousands, even millions.  On the other hand, they may be at fault for losing touch with what made Warped Tour the best unknown event in the business.

This is not a bashing of the event and what it has become; instead it is an objective observation from a long-time fan. The music, the people, and all that occurred at the event were great. The bands played well, people enjoyed themselves, but for some reason it lacked something. The feeling that once dominated the event over 15 years ago dwindled behind the guise of Hurley signs, Vans symbols, and the public notoriety it has gained.

Warped Tour will always hold a place high in the echelons of music. People will continue to attend the event and it will continue to change. That doesn’t mean that it hasn’t lost something, or will ever be the same as it was. Who knows? Maybe it’s the fear of change that most people face; or the ability to be content with the status quo, and never falter from the comfort that continuity brings. Even with all this, Warped Tour is nothing like it used to be.

Is it for the better, or for the worse? Even though the question is rhetorical and truly has no answer, one thing seems obvious: Warped Tour has changed, and is just not the same.


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