Warped Tour: A Retrospective
By: PJ Jones
On November 15th 2017 Kevin Lyman, the founder of Warped Tour, announced that 2018 will be the last cross-country tour for the longest running American music festival. Warped Tour may not be the tour it used to be as it’s gone from a mostly punk and pop punk festival to more of a metal-core audience. However, the appeal and nostalgia most people have for it is strong and it will be missed. So today I would like to take a look back on the influential music festival, its roots, and its sound changes over time as a little bit of a love letter to the festival that gave bands like Blink 182 and MXPX nationwide appeal.
Since 1995 Warped Tour has been touring across the United States with a few stops in Canada as well. In 1996 Vans became the main sponsor of the festival and re-branding it to Vans Warped Tour. In 1995 Warped Tour was more of an alternative rock festival but in 1996 switched its focus to punk music and with punk music came a change in demographic. They took a focus on skateboarding in 1996 as well as the change from alternative to a more punk offering. Around the early 2000s the tour started changing its demographic again, adding more bands from the 2000s Emo surge like Fall Out Boy, The Used, and My Chemical Romance. This change caused quite a stir as the focus on punk music and skateboarding had been around for about five years at that point becoming something that punks across the nation could look forward to. We here at PunkHouse Press don’t agree with gatekeeping; you like what you like. However some portions of the punk scene aren’t as open minded as we all wish they were, especially not in the late ‘90s. As a result some bands stopped appearing at Warped Tour, one being The Queers.
The early 2000s gave way to the late 2000s where Emo blended with and turned into Scene culture, becoming more of a prominent force within the mainstream and also a headliner focus for the tour. 2009 gave way to the popularity of Metal-core and Metal/Pop punk acts such as A Day To Remember and Attack! Attack! The one thing that was consistent between the early 2000s and 2009 was the diminishing of punk acts on the tour. There were mainstays like Pennywise and Anti-Flag, but looking at the posters you could see the lack of punk bands compared to the early ‘90s.
After 2009 Warped Tour continued to evolve with bands from many different genres. It became the place you could see Alkaline Trio, Andrew WK, and Yellawolf all in the same day. 2017 has been keeping with the theme of being a one-stop shop for many genres including acts like Watsky, Gwar, and CKY. So whether you loved it then and hate it now, whether 2017 was your first one or you’ve been to every one since 1995, Vans Warped Tour, you will be missed.
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