My first Warped Tour was the last stop in the crazy continuous summer tour AND ILL NEVER FORGET IT! There’s so much to discuss. I was a first responder on a medical incident, I met the legend himself and captured the magic of punk and rock n roll in a parking lot. Let’s get started. My day started with getting familiar with the grounds. Warped Tour has 7 stages (kornor stage counts guys!) with the biggest names playing on the Journeys Left and Right stages. After doing research of previous shows I had a list of bands I HAD to photograph, which i nailed them all. I’ve been a bit out of the loop with this genre unfortunately, but that made it special; no conflicts and it gave me the ability to float to whatever stage captured my attention.
I started out with the hardcore punk band Sharp Tooth, with Lauren Kashan as their mighty vocalist. It didn’t take long before their dedicated audience started swarming in circle pits with her preaching to her choir about important topics that the genre famously brings to life. Roars erupted when she brought up mental health issues and acceptance. The band was passionate with their music, jumping off risers and amps with their hair flying in the wind. Next we had Doll Skin, an all girl band who had one of the most packed photo pits, which is a good sign of their upcoming success. They were a fun group with the rocker attitude. Flicking the bird to the world with a smile. I learned that you can never assume what someone will sound like until you actually hear them rip their first chord on a guitar. Alex Snowden would make any guitarist melt. They were proud to say that this show had the most crowd surfers ever at any of their shows and the audience made sure to continue adding to the numbers.Front woman, Sydney Dolezal instructed the surfers to high five her when they got to the front and they listened. At the end of their set, tears were falling as they thanked the audience and showed their gratitude for being apart of the last Warped Tour. One of my favorite acts, Simple Plan, had an afternoon set and a buzzing crowd ready to be sent back in time. They started the set ripping with the opening lick of “Addicted.” A fan mid show threw a Scooby Doo plush on stage and we were teased with “What’s New Scooby Doo” with the audience taking over the lyrics and the band Simply loved it. After the third song we were all cooled down when they brought out Squirt guns and hosed the audience off. After my 3 song limit I took my break and enjoyed the whole show, all of the sets are only 30 minutes anyways. During one of the bands, a fan was tossed too hard and the show stopped when the singer noticed the audience was asking for a medic. Being a first responder, I asked a rando rocker to hold my camera while I tended to her. An audience member and I got this fan to a secluded area to see what happened and had her talking and staying conscious until medics showed up. I ran back to my leather-rocking fellow photographer, gave him a hug for watching my gear and the show resumed. Not much longer after that was when I wandered into the Legend himself. Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman. I went up to him and explained on behalf of the Warped family how thankful we all are for what he’s done over the past 24 years, giving kids a safe space to discover who they really are. He asked for my name gave me a genuine hug. I’ll always be thankful for that moment. Later on in the night is when I discovered my new favorite band, The Interrupters, a Ska group on the rise from L.A that took me by surprise. The crowd kept singing from the first song “A Friend Like Me” all the way to the last song of the night, “Family.” I couldn’t believe how much fun this band was. They gave me wonderful material and new music to listen to on my 2.5 hour car ride home. We finished the night off with OGs Less Than Jake, who gave a classic, energetic performance with their horns! Did I mention they had Toilet paper cannons? That was a first for me and it was exciting to witness and photograph! And closing out the last Warped Tour was Pennywise, a classic Warped Tour band formed in ‘88. They preached about being accepting and telling authority to fuck off. We sang and cried to “Bro Hymn” as everyone in the on stage and in audience belted the famous hook until we walked to our cars and busses. Mr. Lyman came out and said his thank yous and how it’s important to take this energy and put it to good use and fight the good fight! Vans Warped Tour, thank you for something I’ll never forget. Thank you for giving bands stages to play and make their careers on and pulling off a logistical nightmare for 24 years. This was truly a Best Day Ever.
Review and photos contributed by PlayitLoud Media Photojournalist Collen Pryor