Saturday afternoon proved to be incredibly bittersweet for those in attendance of the Vans Warped Tour. Fans had been lined up all the way down the street since early in the morning, eagerly awaiting to get through the doors and play witness one last time to the traveling punk rock summer camp, the Vans Warped Tour. In its twenty-fourth and final year (visiting both Shoreline and Pier 30/32 in San Francisco's Embarcadero District), I had never seen a Warped Tour date sell out so far in advance. Having been to several dates throughout the tour before, I've definitely seen it hit capacity (I will never forget being in Oregon in 2012 when it was oversold), but that usually happens day-of. Never days before. I saw all of the frantic Facebook and Twitter posts going up, begging people to find a ticket at the last minute.
If you were not in attendance, you missed out on something extremely special. In the ten years that I've been attending or working any of the Vans Warped Tour dates, I've never seen a Bay Area date, let alone any date of the tour, go out like this. There were a few changes made in the day, with the amphitheater playing host to the second main stage (rather than being side-to-side as it usually is). It made the commute from stages a bit trickier, but it paid off throughout the day, and it allowed for the most special moment of the entire evening to happen. More on that later.
On a blistering day in Mountain View, CA at the Shoreline Amphitheatre (perhaps the hottest Warped Tour that has ever occurred in Mountain View), twenty-five thousand people gathered to pay homage to Kevin Lyman's summer festival. Each stage was packed throughout the day, with fans being able to experience a little bit of everything that the scene has to offer: caffeinated pop-punk (State Champs, Real Friends, Simple Plan), the punk/ska roots that the tour was originally based in (Reel Big Fish), devastatingly brutal metalcore (Motionless In White, Chelsea Grin), straight-up hardcore (Sharptooth, Harm's Way), electro-pop (3OH!3), acoustic (This Wild Life), pop-rock (We The Kings), and legendary post-hardcore (The Used).
A stand-out feature of this year's tour was the Owly.FM stage (which I assume would have originally be inside the amphitheater), which played hosted to a plethora of up and comings acts like Picturesque, Assuming We Survive, Doll Skin, and Chase Atlantic, who drew crowds in spectacular fashion throughout the afternoon.
A lot of people have gone on over the years about how "rock music is dead" or how the "Warped Tour scene is dead". It's not. Those people would be wrong. This fact became apparent when the entire amphitheater, at 9:15 at night, was packed from front to back with fans who had been waiting to see All Time Low, one of the most anticipated bands of the day (and one of their only dates on Warped this summer). The members of the band genuinely looked shocked when they walked out on stage and saw so many people. During the middle of their closing set (before bringing out Kevin Lyman to say a few words to the crowd), they performed "Something's Gotta Give", a track from their album Future Hearts. The crowd rose the lights on their cell phones in unison, waving them throughout the air, forgetting about social media, forgetting about the horrible state of the world. They just let themselves be taken away by an event that let everyone escape for an entire day. It was the perfect farewell to the traveling festival, and one that will be talked about for years to come, when our kids' kids will be asking what "the summer at the Warped Tour" means when they hear "The Rock Show" by Blink-182.
If you find yourself lucky enough to get a ticket for any of the other dates throughout this summer, do it. Don't pass up the opportunity. Buy your ticket as soon as you can, and be Forever Warped for one last time.