by Cole Schoneman
photography courtesy of Baeble Media
It’s the summer of 2008 and alternative punk is thriving. Thousands of tattooed teens with piercings are packed in a sweltering dirt lot, eager to flail in the mosh pit. The only fear more real than heat stroke is the fear that they might not be able to catch Rise Against, Cobra Starship and Paramore in the same hour.
Fast forward to the summer of 2018, and things look surprisingly the same. The weather is still scorching and the limbs still flailing. Sure, Paramore has moved on to selling out arenas, but State Champs and Mayday Parade have taken their place.
Warped Tour made its way through the US for the final time this summer. Its conclusion was unsurprising to many, considering it struggled for years to bring in enough revenue and avoid more mosh-related lawsuits.
Warped Tour was able to generate a great deal of interest this past summer. With higher ticket prices and better safety measures, it could feasibly be brought back next year.
I was fortunate enough to attend two California dates this summer: Pomona on June 21 and Ventura on June 24. The lineups were mostly the same, with the exception of All Time Low and Taking Back Sunday, who did not perform at Pomona.
Pomona featured your standard Warped Tour fare: blistering heat, dry dirt pits and a complete lack of shade. Despite this, the Pomona Fairplex was well-equipped for the thousands of attendees and provided ample space for headliner bands like Black Veil Brides.
Compared to Pomona, Ventura was an organizational disaster. The Ventura Fairgrounds at maximum capacity were extremely crowded and difficult to navigate. The amount of food for sale was also grossly inadequate to feed the thousands of attendees. Lines for the dozen food trucks wrapped around the venue and took well over an hour.
But Ventura, despite needing to be better planned, represents the economic potential for future Warped Tours. The date sold out weeks in advance, a massive feat when tickets are typically still sold day-of.
Considering several other dates also sold out on the tour, it seems ridiculous to argue that interest in Warped Tour has drastically declined since 2008. Even the dates that did not sell out this summer sold more tickets than prior years.
A 25th anniversary Warped Tour show is already in the works, and many fans are speculating a comeback tour will follow. However, if founder Kevin Lyman decided to bring back Warped Tour in its entirety, he would need to adapt it for the 21st century.
Many fans would bemoan increased ticket prices as being incompatible with an alternative music festival. But paying $70 versus $55 is hardly drastic compared to the $400+ many are already willing to spend on festivals like Coachella.
And yes, Coachella features more mainstream acts, but Warped Tour could justify the increased price by adding bigger-name bands. All Time Low is a perfect example, as they are likely a huge part of the reason Ventura sold out.
Warped Tour could also add better safety features to justify the price increase by adding more security near the middle of crowds and signs warning against moshing.
Parents may be uneasy about their fourteen-year-old moshing, but the bigger threats are heat stroke and dehydration. The Nashville date alone saw 20 people hospitalized for heat-related illnesses this summer. More shade tents and hydration stations are an annoying short-term investment that will keep people safe—and prevent lawsuits—in the long-term.
Resurrecting Warped Tour would not be nearly as complicated as some might seem to think. It’s the only festival of its kind, providing punk fans with an amazing summer and proving that the scene has not gone anywhere. Furthermore, it has survived 24 years so it must be doing something right.