Forever Warped: A Final Goodbye

After nearly 25 years, a staple part of summer is finally coming to an end as we know it. Since 1995 Warped Tour has been home to punks, misfits, and everyone in-between; allowing people of all ages to come together for one day and take in such an eclectic mix of music and culture. With the pressure of the final tour upon them fans made sure to take complete advantage of their last chance and came out by the thousands, selling out multiple dates across the country and even in Toronto, Canada. GBTRS was lucky enough to be able to attend both the sold-out Toronto date as well as the Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and make memories alongside Vans Warped Tour for one last time.

Fans in Canada turned out in the masses, proving to Kevin Lyman and the tour that it was well worth the hassle of crossing the border with hundreds of band and crew members. Selling out The Flats at Budweiser Stage, thousands of eager fans filled the waterfront and enjoyed watching their favorite acts from the past and present. I couldn’t help but start my day with Doll Skin, a band we have worked closely with through our Roadie For A Day program, and to say I was blown away was an understatement. Watching these women give an energetic and tantalizing set was a rush, you’ve got to keep your eyes on this band because they’re going to take the world by storm.

I spent a lot of time in Toronto checking out the bands on the Owly.fm Stage, most are up-in-coming acts that hustle all summer to perform and captivate their audiences. As It Is, who recently spoke back on negative comments made toward mental illness from a member of a another band on the tour, played an amazing set full of songs ranging from fan favorite “Dial Tones” to new songs like “The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)” and vocalist Patty Walters spoke to his battles with mental illness and let the crowd know that they’re not alone in their struggles. Other high energy acts like Chase Atlantic and Don Broco filled the day and kept fans dancing into the night.

A Warped Tour wouldn’t be complete without taking in some metal and hitting up the Mutant White Lightning Stage to catch Dayseeker live finally. Well hyped up throughout the tour, Dayseeker was sure to not disappoint with a crushing set that reminded me why I ever started coming to Warped Tour in the first place. Being able to discover new music that moves you and find acts that carry such passion for what they do is revitalizing.

Special guests Silverstein hopped on the tour in Toronto and their hometown crowd poured their love and hearts back into the band with a sea of fans watching and dancing as they played their set. Similarly, Sum 41 attracted the largest crowd of the day, with thousands of fans piling up onto the beach to catch their only set on the final run of Vans Warped Tour. Playing tons of nostalgic fan favorites from their album Does This Look Infected? and of course, closing the set with “Fat Lip”. Seeing Sum 41 was one of the most pinnacle, final Warped moments for fans, most who had listened to these songs when they originally came out in 1995. Having that sense of nostalgia tied with the finality of this last tour made for a cathartic experience for all that chose to take part in it.

Day two brought GBTRS through Cuyahoga Falls, OH for more adventures and special guests. Kicking off the morning fans fried their brains with a band called The Maine and enjoyed dancing and singing along to new bops off of their most recent album Lovely Little Lonely and old songs like “Girls Do What They Want”. Even security guards were caught smiling and every photographer in the photo pit couldn’t help but join in on the singalong. A special surprise came after The Maine’s set over at the Transform Stage with a Canadian melodic-hardcore band called Widmore. Creating an emotionally driven and captivating set to a small crowd of fans, Widmore blew me away with both their sound and performance.

The first special guest of the day came from Knocked Loose, playing one of five dates on the Mutant White Lightning Stage. Fans and Warped crew members alike were eagerly awaiting this set, filling up the stage and mosh pits to show Knocked Loose love. Vocalist, Bryan Garris shouted out women in hardcore during their set and they gave the high octane performance they are known and loved for. Right after was the other special guest for the beautiful and sunny day in Ohio, Underoath, who only played three dates on the bill and this date being their last. Charging the Journey’s Left Foot Stage, thousands of fans gathered to watch the legendary act grace the Warped Tour stage for one last time. Dozens of crowd surfers made their way to the front of the crowd and just a chance of getting close to the band and fans of every age could be caught losing their minds in the moment.

Every set seemed to be more intimate and emotional than ever before, as each day there was an ever-lingering finality knowing that it’d be the last time these bands would play these stages in these cities. Despite being in the first week of a twenty-day stretch without a day off, crew members and bands still spilled their hearts into every moment and ensured that fans were both safe and having fun. Heading back to the Owly.fm Stage for the second day I made sure to catch Sleep On It, a Chicago, IL based alternative/indie band known for charming performances. They lived up to my expectations and kept fans of all ages enticed in their set, having a fan as young as seven in the crowd on her mom’s shoulders.

I sealed the night with two Warped Tour veterans who have been staple acts on the bill for years now, Mayday Parade and Every Time I Die. Take a moment to soak that sentence in, what tour will we ever be able to see a pop-punk act play right before a chaotic metal/hardcore band again? Both bands were sure to include nostalgic fan favorites like “Jersey” and “Jaime All Over” for Mayday Parade, and “Underwater Bimbos from Outer Space” and “No Son of Mine” from Every Time I Die allowing fans to create new memories attached to old songs. Every Time I Die put on the wild and highly interactive performance they’re widely known and loved for, with multiple members diving themselves into the crowd and giving fans every ounce of their energy for that half hour segment.

Warped Tour, for so many of us, has been a refuge and a solace in the summer; a place where no matter who you were, or what you looked like, you could be yourself and immerse yourself completely into music of every genre. A place where you can take advantage of non-profit organizations like Hope For The Day and The Canvas Foundation and learn how to express yourself and forever be reminded you’re not alone. With twenty-four long, exciting, and unpredictable years under its belt, Warped Tour will always hold a special place in the heart of every misfit kid out there. So here’s to being Forever Warped, may the memories you made with the tour last you a lifetime!