Since 1995 the Vans Warped Tour has been a rite of passage for music fanatics, skateboarders, activists, and merry troublemakers alike. For the hundreds of thousands of festivalgoers who have been attending the Vans Warped Tour across the country for the past 25 years, it’s as much a scene as it is part of an identity.
The tour, which was founded by Kevin Lyman, has been just as much an important part of the cultural landscape for fans as it has the artists who have performed on its stages.
Before the Vans Warped Tour hits Atlantic City, New Jersey from Saturday, June 29 to Sunday, June 30 (one of just three tour stops for 2019, along with Mountainview, California, and Cleveland, Ohio), MNYK Studios—a proud sponsor of the Vans Warped Tour—wanted to take a look back at the festival’s lasting impact.
We chatted with Chris Payne, a correspondent for Billboard.com, about the “end” of the Vans Warped Tour (the large-scale, all-summer tour officially ended in 2018) and where it’s possibly going. (This year promises—in addition to musical acts like 311, Andrew W.K., The Offspring, Anti-Flag, and Travie McCoy—events such as freestyle moto-cross and wrestling.)
“I was definitely bummed to hear last year that Warped was ending but the summer festival and touring industry had changed immensely since the tour started in 1995,” Payne told us, adding, ”Back then, summer music festivals weren’t nearly as prevalent as they are today, so there was much more demand for a package tour like Warped that took a bunch of bands to numerous cities across North America.”
Once the 2010s rolled around, Payne says it seemed bands wanted to play shows alongside their own tours, rather than making the long commitment to a summer on Warped.
Still, even with the paradigm shifts in the music and touring industry, Payne (who penned an oral history of the Warped Tour’s ground-breaking year in 2005, which put on 48 shows in 59 days) says, “I honestly can’t even think of another touring festival these days that operates even close to the level of Warped.”
In addition to the overall scope of the festival, the Vans Warped Tour was a major jumping-off point for artists of various backgrounds (including pop-punk, emo, hardcore, metal, and hip-hop) to breakout.
“During its peak years, you’d see artists from outside punk playing Warped early in their careers to diversify their audiences and establish cred with the cool skater punk kids and such: Eminem, Katy Perry, and the Black Eyed Peas are some good examples of this,” Payne says.
Of course, the bands that paved the way for Vans to become the hot spot that it would become included heavy hitters in their own realms, including No Doubt, Fall Out Boy, Green Day, Blink-182, My Chemical Romance, Rancid, Deftones, Paramore, and many, many more.
While it remains to be seen what will happen to the Warped Tour after the mini-tour this summer, Payne says the tour, and the brand Vans itself, is still massively popular with younger crowds (as well as those who grew up with both). But whatever happens, Payne says that with the changes that have occurred to the industry, “it’s a major triumph it toured for 24 years.”
As Lyman put it in an interview with the Los Angeles Times last year, Vans Warped Tour was an event that made artists “close and accessible” to their fans. (In fact, as Payne explains, bands had an incredibly hands-on approach, with bands often driving themselves to the various shows, playing a range of set times, meeting with fans for signings, selling their own merch, and, of course, partying.)
Lyman also credits Vans as being one of the few affordable festivals (“Warped always had the lowest ticket prices”) and says he created it for the other 90% who wanted their concerts to be “Sweat, crowds, down and dirty.” For anyone who moshed, headbanged, and rocked with Vans for the past 25 years, it’s safe to say, that’s exactly what they got.
Make sure you stop by our MNYK Studios tent on the Vans Warped Tour June 29-30 in Atlantic City! We’re raffling off studio time, t-shirts, and more. Hope to see you there!