August 5, 2018 will officially mark the end of an era. It is the last date of the last leg of Warped Tour.
Kevin Lyman is the brains behind the cross country punk festival that has been blessing our hearts, souls, and ears every summer since 1995. If you have been living under a rock and haven’t heard of it, let me break it down for you. Like I said, the tour started in ’95 with bands like No Doubt, Sublime, and Deftones and has since featured bands such as Blink-182, Beck, NOFX, Eminem (yep, the Eminem), Limp Bizkit, Bad Religion, Incubus, Joan Jett, Jimmy Eat World, New Found Glory, Paramore, Katy Perry, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance … the list goes on and on and on and on. They tour the country all summer long bringing punk, pop punk, hardcore, screamo, pop, etc together for a day of amazing music, art, and philanthropy. They raise money and take up non-monetary donations for non-profits such as Keep a Breast Foundation, To Write Love On Her Arms, Feed our Children, and Music Saves Lives to name a few. It’s about more than just music. It’s about camaraderie, passion, inclusion, art, helping others, and, yes, music.
Warped Tour will always hold a special place in my heart. I attended my first tour in 2006 and went every summer I could. This summer would make my 8th and final Warped Tour. I saw bands I’d seen a dozen times, local bands that hopped on for a few dates, bands I knew nothing about, and some that were just starting out and are now selling out shows around the world (Paramore, Katy Perry, All Time Low, Simple Plan, etc). I went to signings, meet and greets, and met band members just hanging in their merch tents. The only thing I didn’t do was crowd surf (which I regret).
My walls, as an emo middle and high schooler, were covered in signed posters from my times at Warped Tour. You think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. Covered. My favorite was my signed promo poster of All Time Low in their underwear (raging teenage hormones, ok?). I have stories about getting a stranger’s iPod signed by Gabe Saporta (Cobra Starship), running into an old friend whose band was playing on the tour, hanging out with the singer of a local band we knew from home after their solar powered stage lost power, and so much more.
It was kind of a bare minimum lineup this year compared to the rest of the stops this summer, but there were still so many bands I was excited to see. Charlotte is always towards the end of the tour and a lot of bands only play a few stops and then drop out for various reasons. The bands I would have loved to see but didn’t play the Charlotte date were Silverstein, All Time Low, Good Charlotte, Taking Back Sunday, The Used, Sum 41, and Bowling For Soup. But here’s the list of bands that were absolutes for me:
My favorites of the day were With Confidence, Broadside, Falling In Reverse, and The Maine. I was lucky that most of the bands I was there to see played in the covered amphitheater because it poured for a good chunk of the day, HOWEVER…I did drag my sister with me out into the rain to see With Confidence and I do not regret the wet one bit. This band is so young but have put out some truly incredible music. They have their second album coming out mid August and I can’t wait.
This year the final band to play the Charlotte stop was Simple Plan. I’ve seen them one other time and they always put on such an amazing show. There were water guns, t-shirts tossed into the crowd, giant beach balls, etc. The drummer jumped the ~10 foot gap from the stage to the crowd to stage dive during one of the songs. To start off their set, the guitarist serenaded a packed amphitheater with Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On, which was surprisingly beautiful and started the emotional end of the night. And then, to end Warped Tour in Charlotte forever, lead singer, Pierre Bouvier, stood on stage by himself with just an acoustic guitar and sang Perfect and for the first time it really hit me that this would be the last time.
I genuinely cannot express in words what Warped Tour has meant to me over the years and the amount of amazing memories I have from attending so many summers. So thank you, Kevin Lyman, for creating an event so special to me and so many thousands of other people out there.