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I never quite went through a “punk phase” where I caked on black makeup and religiously went to Van’s Warped Tour as a middle schooler. Regardless, I’ve always liked punk rock and pop punk so I figured I’d try it out and see what the hype was for myself. With all-access passes to the tour and a day full of both the hot sun and rain showers, it was an experience, to say the least.
Although I’m notoriously known for planning out every hour of my day, I decided to go with the flow for Warped… and it was amazing. I saw the bands I loved, wandered around backstage, and got to hear new some dope music (tip: if you love a band, go to their meet & greets, I do slightly regret not planning and missing those). After writing down the sets my friend and I wanted to see on our arms in Sharpie, we were ready to go.
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Microwave was the first band I saw- they absolutely killed it and set the mood for the day. They mix elements of hardcore, emo, and indie rock into catchy and meaningful songs that are perfect summer jams. They’re definitely a band to keep an eye out for in the future. After that, I ventured backstage and scoped out how the behind the scenes action plays out at Warped. It was cool to see bands playing games and just relaxing or jamming along to other bands backstage.
After seeing Gwar’s bassist kill Silverstein’s bassist onstage and play for their set, I went backstage to see Counterparts. By avoiding the crazy mosh pit backstage (it looked like a blast til someone got knocked out), I actually got to see how talented they were. The drummer was insanely energetic throughout the entire set and was probably the most talented drummers I saw all day. It was crazy how Counterparts was probably the youngest of the musicians there and were probably the most technical group. Also, highly recommend going to see a hardcore band backstage if you ever get the chance.
Next up was one of my favorites at the Main Stage, Beartooth. I planned on sitting in the back for this one but when I heard the guitar feedback echoing throughout the amphitheater, I knew I couldn’t just sit back and watch from afar. Pushing my way to the barrier was definitely worth it as they were even better live than on their records. I stood on seats right behind the mosh pit and got an awesome view of both the band and the pit. It was cool how even though they came out with a new album recently, they played a lot of older, more popular stuff to have a good time with their fans.
After checking out some of the tents and watching one of my friends join in on a random jam band on the drums, it started pouring down with rain. Oddly enough, this made the experience more fun because the last band I went to see was wild, to say the least. I’d heard about them in the past and was just genuinely curious to see them live. If you don’t know anything about them, they are known for skinning animals on stage and spraying their fans with blood. Of course, I’m not that daring so I stood way at the back but it was honestly hilarious and awesome all at the same time. They dressed in ‘World of War-esque on steroids’ costumes that have pieces which are ripped off and a ton (and when I say a ton I mean A TON) of blood spurts out. At one point they brought out a Donald Trump life-size doll which was then torn apart on stage. If that doesn’t tell you how theatrically disturbing their show is then I’m not really sure what will.
All in all, Warped Tour definitely exceeded my expectations and all-access was an amazing opportunity to have. It was cool that despite all the different genres and fan bases there, everyone got along and just had a good time together. Overall, I highly recommend going if you vibe with bands in the lineup, and if not, it’s a concert series that is definitely different from most festivals and a pretty exciting experience to have.